An Interview On
Davidson College

Background

Interview Date:June 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Private school in Savannah, GA with a graduating class of 32. It was more of a college prep school than the other high schools in the area. I think almost all the students in my class went to college
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Double major in Economics and Latin American Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I occasionally play club soccer. I am part of a fraternity. I work with the Patterson Court Sustainability Council, which is a student group of people in Greek life working to make the campus more sustainable.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I think being in a frat had an impact in terms of who I’ve met. Club soccer also helped form relationships at the beginning of my freshman year.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
It’s usually pretty heavy on readings. Latin American Studies is a lot of reading and we sometimes have journal entries as a response. Economics varies by class but problem sets are usually involved. Latin American Studies is mostly essays and group projects, and Economics is heavily exams, so either multiple choice and/or short answer questions.

Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
I think that one benefit of the Latin American Studies major is that it’s pretty small. [In the Class of 2018, there were five majors.] That makes it so there is a lot of flexibility in terms of what you want to study and focus on. Your capstone paper, which is the big thesis at the end of the year, can be on any topic you want. They leave it pretty open. One of the downsides of that is people come out of the major with different experiences. It’s kind of hard to know what it means to have the degree because so many people have taken different courses and gone down different paths to get it.

Economics has a pretty good structure, but there’s not a lot of opportunities to study what you want. There are some courses that are better about it than others. I’ve taken a few where you get a lot of chance to explore topics and write about topics that you feel engaged with. But, a lot of the courses have set readings and coursework.

Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
I think it depends. You get a good mix of people. There are definitely some people who are very competitive, but you also get people who want to succeed but also focus on retaining information. For them, if group work is a better option they will work in a group. Some classes are pretty big on encouraging group work and sometimes it’s a hassle because you have to schedule with people, which can make it difficult at times.

What have been your favorite classes in your majors?
Economics: Economic development of Latin America. It was nice it overlapped with both of my majors. I also liked Computational Economics because it was a challenge. I had to do a lot of work in MatLab, which is math programming work with matrices. I had never done any coding before either so it was hard, but it was the class I had the most leeway in terms of choosing what you wanted to study. You got to pick something and then apply economic models to it.

Latin American Studies: I had one professor who was phenomenal. She taught Spanish 201 and Latin American Cities, which were both awesome classes. I took one good one without her called Politics and Economics in Brazil. That was awesome because it was the first class I’ve taken on one country. A lot of Latin American Studies courses are looking at something from the different perspectives and countries, but I liked having one semester dedicated to one country. After the course, I felt that I had a sense of the history of life and culture in Brazil.

Why did you choose your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m very happy with it. One thing that attracted me to the combination is that they’re very different. I liked having the diversity of work. It helped me keep engaged going between material. Like going between poems and problem sets keeps things more exciting when I’m changing gears.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Belk Hall with one roommate

Sophomore: Chidsey Hall in a single

Junior: Abroad in the fall and then came back and lived in a house off campus.

Senior: Lived in the same house off-campus.

What was your favorite living situation?
I don’t know what was my favorite. All three were pleasant. My freshman year I really enjoyed my roommate, but the dorm was old and small and crappy. Sophomore year was a big upgrade and all the facilities were really new. I liked off campus because it has more space and freedom.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I personally have never felt in danger or campus or in Davidson.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Kindred on Main Street.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The cross-country trails are really nice. It’s my favorite place to go for a run or walk around on the border of campus and feel away from it.

Pros and Cons of being in Davidson, NC?
Pros: (1) You can walk down Main St. any time of day and not be too scared or feel really worried about anything. It’s a really well maintained and manicured town where you’re not going to feel in danger.
(2) There’s an honor code at Davidson which is pretty strict and encourages students to leave your phone and computer on a library table while you go to dinner or something. That carries over to the town of Davidson. Wherever you are you feel that people are going to help you out. It feels like an extension of the campus, which I think is unique.

Cons: (1) It’s a small college town and a sleepy older folk town. If you’re too loud and you’re bound to get a noise complaint and are going to get shut down. That happens pretty regularly.
(2) There are some good restaurants and some stuff to do, but there’s not that much to do. The college is the majority of the town. If you don’t have a car, you are limited in your options. That’s super important to point out about Davidson.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
My first year I was in a big freshman dorm and I was going out more than I did this past semester. I’ve never been a big weeknight guy, so I mostly go out Friday and Saturday. Sometimes there are Court Parties, which is basically where the organization will host parties. Every now and then that will happen and sometimes people will host those in Eating Houses, which are basically sororities at Davidson. They have a small house and they have all their meals and events there. Sometimes there will be smaller stuff going on at the senior apartments, whether that’s a themed party or one apartment wants to have something because it can get tiring going to the same thing every single night. It depends on the weekend.

What have been your favorite days and nights at Davidson?
There’s one event that Kappa Sigma has which is called Woodstock, which is normally super fun. It is basically their Court Party in the fall. The best part about it is there’s always a band, so having live music is something that is kind of rare, but something I really enjoy since it’s a nice change of pace from somebody on an AUX cord.

Other than that, I would say at the end of the spring semester is Frolics, which I bet most students say. It’s our big last hurrah before exams and the one time where people really party all Friday and Saturday. The whole campus kind of feels like a party rather than a small sectioned off area. There are also events and food trucks and those are pretty fun.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like?
I’m pretty bad about keeping my ear to the ground for things, but there are a lot of events that are hosted for people who aren’t going down to the senior apartments. There are some people who go to Charlotte, but I don’t because it’s a 30-minute drive. Other than that, there are events in the Student Union.

How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I definitely wish there was a bit more diversity of what was going on, but that’s also kind of something that I don’t seek out too much. I wish there was more live music and I wish there was more dancing. I wish there was more diversity of music, more dancing, or at least a different environment every once in a while.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
One was on my freshman hall and the other I met through my fraternity.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Davidson?
It’s definitely repetitive, there’s no doubt about that. You’re not going to get a lot of variety after the first few weeks. It’s also not thriving. In general, after the first few weeks a lot of people stay in to do work. So, it’s pretty small and repetitive.

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think there are circles on campus, and in terms of the more identified ones, like fraternities, there is some mixing. But, I think there is more mixing in non-Greek life. There is not a ton of mixing honestly. It’s not to say people aren’t welcome, I just think that some people gravitate towards people they are similar to. I wouldn’t say it’s segregated, but a little divided in terms of who you’re friends with.

How would you describe the student body?
It’s a lot of people who are very driven. They love to tell you how much work they have. At least half don’t really go out or go out once a semester. In that sense, it’s very academically focused.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of Davidson by the time they graduate?
Yeah, I think people do leave pretty happy. For the most part, everybody says the social scene is repetitive, but it doesn’t necessarily stop us from enjoying it. People leave happy when they went.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, my first internship was with a Davidson alum through the career center and they offer it every year. The second internship I had after sophomore year wasn’t with a Davidson alum, but I got lots of perspectives from people who were from Davidson. I’ve almost never been turned down reaching out to somebody.

Have you used the career office much?
It’s been super helpful. Whether it’s just going over a resume or prepping for an interview, it’s one of the better resources at Davidson.

Have you learned any computer programs that will help you professionally?
Excel and any Microsoft software for sure, and some programming stuff like Stata for Economics classes, MatLab and some other mathematical software.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Davidson before entering as a freshman?
I wish I had known that while I’m going to have amazing professors, that is going to be true for pretty much every department. I think that I had such amazing professors my freshman year, I just stuck with the subject matter and the courses I was used to. I wish I branched out more and kept in mind that there are really acclaimed and interesting professors that are studying all sorts of different things.

What is something a prospective student may have missed on a visit that is worth checking out?
The farmer’s market, which on Saturdays. It’s very quaint and adorable. It’s one of the best things to do when your parents come into town. You go to the one main coffee shop on Main St. and then go walk to the farmer’s market. It’s a normal thing to do when you have somebody visit.

There are also some small study lounges on campus that are really peaceful that you don’t always go to. One of those is in the art building, [the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center], which is adjunct to campus because it’s across the street. It’s a beautiful building with this amazing study space with floor to ceiling windows and it’s just gorgeously designed. You can walk out on the balcony, and nobody’s ever there.

Reasons to attend Davidson:
1) I’ve met the best teachers in my life without a doubt. I really enjoy going to class. Obviously, every now and then there are classes that are just boring, there’s no way around that. But I think the frequency of my classes that are like that is really limited.
2) Anybody who works at Davidson, whether it’s at the mail office or at the registrar, is 100% dedicated to helping students. You can ask them whatever question you have, it doesn’t matter if it’s relevant to what they do. They’re always all ears when trying to help you.
3) If you like the idea of a college town, Davidson is pretty quintessential for that. It has restaurants and it has a little main strip. It has stuff around it, like you can go into Charlotte, but for the most part, you feel like you’re in a quiet, small college town.

Reasons to not attend Davidson:
1) The social scene is going to be limited.
2) It could be tougher to find people that are similar to you, or your friend group might be smaller, just because it’s a smaller pool of people. It’s a tiny campus and the social scene is restricted, and even outside of that it’s a really small group of people.
3) It’s a lot of work. There is a really obnoxious culture of people being really stressed out and wanting to be like, “I have the most work. My schedule is the hardest.” That can get tiresome.

Notice: Davidson College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Davidson College.

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