University of Colorado at Boulder
BackgroundInterview Date:February 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020, transferred to start sophomore year.
High School Experience: Public school in Chandler, AZ with a graduating class of about 1,200 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Psychology (B.A.)
Minors: Business and Leadership
Extracurricular Activities: I was a varsity athlete for a few months but ended up quitting because I wanted to focus on other things. Currently, I am in Leeds Consulting Group, I’m in Student Government, Presidents Leadership Class which gives me the Leadership minor, and I’m part of the Diversity Commission which promotes different student groups on campus for minority, religion, and gender groups.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The Presidents Leadership Class (PLC) has had a huge impact as well as being in Student Government. Student Government helped me get prepared for having work friendships and building relationships with people who are co-workers and also may have some authority over you. That helped me understand the dynamics of a working environment. PLC gave me the ability to do actionable leadership and helped me learn how I view leadership and how others view it.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
I’m in Statistical Psychology now which has a lab, but this will be my first lab of college. Because I’m in the Bachelor of Arts program, I’ve taken some other classes, like art history and philosophy. For my major, we have tests and a lot of reading.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
For especially well, as long as you go into your advisor’s office and develop a relationship with them, which I had to do to make sure my transfer credits would transfer over, it really helps and they can be great. At the same time, one thing that they do poorly that I’ve seen through my friends is if you don’t invest in that relationship, they will put the pressure of picking classes on you and don’t explain to you how you should build your resume or base of knowledge. For some people it probably works out, but I’ve heard people complain that their advisor doesn’t care about them, but that’s because they aren’t trying to meet with them and are not letting them know where you want to do later on.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I’d say it’s competitive with a hint of collaboration. It’s competitive in that the school is decently regarded but not highly regarded and students are pushing to have it be highly regarded. People are competitive with themselves in the courses and are not competing against others.
How accessible are your professors?
They aren’t very accessible. They have their office hours but if those don’t work for your schedule you can get one meeting to try to figure it out, but if you need consistent help that might be difficult. They won’t make themselves accessible, you have to make yourself accessible to them.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m happy with my choice. I took a psychology class in high school and I really enjoyed the course material. I want to be a lawyer and Psychology helps you work well with other people and also has a very intense reading workload which helps you prepare for law school.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Sophomore: Off-campus apartment with one roommate.
Junior: A different off-campus apartment with a different roommate
How was transitioning from living in Arizona to Boulder, CO?
It wasn’t too difficult for me because I have moved around so I’m used to moving states. It’s absolutely gorgeous here so I’m very happy.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Campus is absolutely safe. I’ve never heard of any problems on campus of anybody being harassed. For girls, off-campus is a little bit more dangerous because they’re going to frat parties and things like that because it’s your typical college party town. I’m not in a fraternity so I don’t really know what goes on there. I do know there have been a couple of gun-related incidents on The Hill where all the students live but no one was harmed.
What impact does the legalization of recreational marijuana have on your life in Boulder?
I wouldn’t say it has much of an impact on my daily life, but, because it is legal, you could have it affect your daily life in the sense that you could be high all the time. It is much more prevalent and education about it is much more prevalent, the other day I walked by a booth set up about the effects of marijuana. I was fortunate enough to sit on a drug safety policy panel that talked about how to effectively make a safer policy for drugs that isn’t abolishing drugs. The culture around it is very different in that there is a focus on education and that drugs aren’t bad if you can use them correctly.
Pros and Cons of being in Boulder, CO?
Pros: (1) The size. You can get anywhere in Boulder in a 10-15 minute drive and you can walk a lot of places too.
(2) If you like being outside, there are a lot of things to do.
Cons: (1) There’s not much diversity. [About 80% of residents in Boulder are White.]
(2) It’s a decently expensive town to live in. The cost of living is pretty high.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I just turned 21 so I’ve been going to the bars recently, but there are also parties and things of that nature. The school also does a good job of hosting events on campus and there are student organizations hosting events almost every night of the week. From Thursday through Saturday there’s a party at somebody’s house off-campus, but I tend to go out Friday and Saturday. When I was not 21 I mostly went to house parties.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out or weekend?
Pearl Street has great restaurants to eat at. There are movie theaters and mini golfing. You could probably hike a different trail every day and there are places to go snowboarding and skiing near campus.
What’s the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It’s going to be more difficult freshman year because you don’t know that many people, but after freshman year it doesn’t matter. As a transfer, I was on my team for a few months so I was able to meet people through that and I knew a couple of people from home when I came in so I did get invited out. It’s pretty easy to meet people who want to hang out with you, but it probably takes a good semester or semester and a half to get your group of friends.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Boulder? Is there anything you would change if you could?
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say I’m about an 8. I do wish there was a little more to get involved with that isn’t partying because that is what a lot of people like to do. It’s a college town, so a lot of what people like to do on weekends is party.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I transferred in with one of my best friends from my school freshman year. He’s from Colorado, so I met a bunch of his friends from home and that’s how I met my initial friend group.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
Because of the affluence here it is easy to run into people who are full of themselves. You meet your group of friends and will hang out with your group of friends. You’ll meet more people but will probably end up just hanging out with your group of friends. [Socioeconomically, about 26% of students come from the top 5%.]
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I wouldn’t say much. For better or for worse, there are a few organizations where the Black students congregate and all hang out together. If you’re in a fraternity, it’s going to be majority Caucasian and they will hang out together. I personally have never seen somebody who visibly doesn’t align with heteronormativity at frat parties.
How would you describe the Black community on campus? How strong is it?
It’s not very strong. We make up [2.6%] of the student population. I would say all of those people know each other for the most part or knows somebody who is very connected with an organization so if you want to hang out with that group you can.
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
Not much, but occasionally.
How do you like the size of the University of Colorado at Boulder in terms of undergraduate enrollment?
I like it a lot. It’s easy to get lost in all of those people, but you do get to meet a lot of different people who grew up differently. There are large groups of California and Chicago people. Through the friend groups you run into, you’ll meet a lot of people who are from your area and a lot of people who aren’t. [About 11% of undergraduates come from California and 3% come from Illinois.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Being in the PLC has helped me a lot. Alumni in the PLC have helped me land my internship for this summer.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful are they?
I have never used the career office.
Have you learned any computer programs or languages through your coursework that will be helpful to you professionally?
I wouldn’t say I was taught Excel, I was more forced to learn how to manipulate Excel in one of my math classes. They didn’t necessarily teach it, they excepted you to learn it yourself. In my Statistical Psychology class, I’m learning how to use a coding software, but I’m not necessarily learning how to code.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Boulder before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how to network better. Being at a big university, you can bump into a lot of people who are going to have at least decent jobs and decent connections, so you can build a network with them. I wish I knew how to build a better network when I was younger because this is probably the first time when I’ve had to leverage my network to give me opportunities.
What is something a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
They should try a little bit of everything. That sounds generic but it holds real weight when you’re at such a large university because there are so many opportunities to explore on campus. You will find somebody who has similar traits and interests as you. It’s important to not be closed-minded, you can bump into those types of people, but you will also bump into open-minded people who will show you a different side of life.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
For a Leadership class, I was forced to go on the website and fill out a worksheet that lists all the services the school offers, so I would go on the website and look up every single service because your student dollars are paying for it whether you use it or not. A lot of the times people feel like their university is doing much, but really the school is doing a lot but they don’t know and the university isn’t going to tell you.
Reasons to attend CU Boulder:
1) It’s absolutely gorgeous up here. It’s one of the most beautiful places in America.
2) The students are generally very happy here.
3) There are great professors who like to teach their classes.
4) It’s our own secluded area outside of Denver. If you want the city vibe, you can go to Denver very easily, but Boulder has a small city vibe. If you want the country vibe, you get out in the country easily too. It provides both lifestyles depending on what you want.
Reasons to not attend CU Boulder:
1) The lack of diversity. [About 68% of undergraduates are White, 12% are Hispanic, 8% are Asian-American, and 3% are Black.]
2) If you can’t manage money well, living in a town with a high cost of living would but a lot of unnecessary stress on you. [The average cost of living in Boulder is 42% higher than the national average.]