BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
High School Experience: Private Quaker school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 90 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: English and French Double Major
Minor: Creative Writing
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in an all-female acapella group. I’m in a co-ed improv group. I’m in the Outing Club, which does outdoor activities. I’m in a sorority, and I do community service with my sorority.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The sorority and acapella both were a great way to meet people and make friends. They are both my main friend groups.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
There’s lots of reading. For French, we don’t do grammar anymore so it’s the same kind of stuff for my English classes, like reading and essays, but in French. The Creative Writing minor is a lot of writing too.
Is there anything that you feel your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
All of my professors in the English department have been really great. I really love my English advisor. They’re all pretty passionate about what they teach. Since it’s a small liberal arts school, you actually get to go in and ask them questions and that’s really helpful and something I really like about going to a small school.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
You’re collaborative with your professors. English isn’t really a collaborative major. It’s not really competitive either. You’re in charge of what you’re going to do and you decide how hard you’re going to work.
What have been your favorite classes in your majors?
English: I like the Shakespeare classes that I’ve taken just because the professor was really smart and into the subject.
French: I took a French food class, which was cool.
What have been your least favorite classes in your majors?
English: I’ve liked all my English classes, but I took a film class which was cool, but the professor kind of sucked.
French: I took an Introduction to Francophone Cultures class, which was good but challenging because it was on stuff I’ve never learned about.
What made you choose your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I’ve always liked English and French and have done well in those classes, so that kind of made my decision. I was going to just do English, but I was really close to getting the major for French, so I decided why not.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go to house parties. We have like two bars in town but I’m not 21 yet so I can’t go. Greek organizations will have parties, small extracurricular groups will have small parties, but there are no tailgates or stuff like that. It’s mostly small environment kind of stuff. You go to a bunch of smaller parties and then there’s a party that’s hosted by a sports team or a Greek organization. The nights that change are Tuesday and Thursday, and then I regularly go out Friday and Saturday.
What have been some of your favorite times at Dickinson?
I lived in a house for the Outing Club with a bunch of my friends, so even Sunday nights were fun because everyone was hanging out at the house. Everybody would chill together and those calm nights were nice to just hang out and watch TV together.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It’s pretty big and it’s pretty exclusive for liability reasons. I feel like Dickinson tries to downplay how big Greek life is, but it’s actually huge in the sense of parties and that people aren’t going to get in if they’re not in an organization. [About 25% of females are part of sororities.]
Can you describe a typical night going out before you were in Greek life?
Before I was in Greek life, it was a lot of wandering. We’d walk around and if someone knew someone or heard something we’d go to that. Some people are more flexible about who they let in, so sometimes you’d go to some random place and don’t know anyone and don’t get kicked out, but it’s not that fun if you don’t know anyone. You definitely know who the freshmen are because they’re wandering around campus. It’s not their fault, it’s just what you have to do. Second semester once you’re in Greek life (we rush the second semester of freshman year) or in a smaller organization and get to know people, that’s when it becomes easier. You [have a small party] with your friends at different houses and all meet up at one central party.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Dickinson? Is there anything you would change if you could?
They’re taking away off-campus housing, so that’s going to affect it a lot because that’s where the majority of our parties are. I would change that back to what it was. I don’t know the repercussions of that yet. I would make it more inclusive because Greek organizations are predominantly White, it creates a racial divide.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in the Davidson-Wilson Dorm with a random roommate.
Sophomore: I lived in the Outing House with one roommate. There were 25 people in the house.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s weird because it’s Carlisle, Pennsylvania so you wouldn’t think anything would happen. But, for some reason this year there were gunshot incidents. It was very weird. I think there’s a certain side of town that’s dangerous. For the most part, I feel safe walking around at night and stuff.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Issei Noodles, it’s a really good noodle place.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Laurel Lake, it has hiking spots and a lake you can swim in. We’re close to the Appalachian Trail and Pennsylvania has some really pretty parks, so there are good hiking spots around us.
Pros and cons of being located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania?
1) It’s a really pretty area.
2) It’s your one time to live in Pennsylvania and be in a small town.
1) Air quality is poor. I have asthma and it’s gotten worse. Pennsylvania is a through state and Carlisle is a through city, so there are always huge trucks going through.
2) Because it’s a through city, there’s a bunch of traffic you hear.
3) I like big cities, so it’s kind of my fault for choosing this, but I’ve gotten used to it. There’s not much going on.
4) It’s a very conservative area.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my sorority and my acapella group.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Dickinson?
It can be exclusive and feel divided, unfortunately. Even within Greek life it’s split up, which is really annoying especially at a small school. Racially, the campus can be segregated and I think that is a result of Greek life [being predominantly white and having exclusive parties]. [In 2018, about 56% of the student body was White.]
How would you describe the student body?
There are a lot of rich, preppy kids who are paying full tuition. It’s hard to generalize because there are also students who come for free from low-income neighborhoods. Then there are also kids in the middle. For the most part, people are friendly. [Socioeconomically, 40% of students come from the top 5%.]
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Dickinson by senior year?
Yes, but I think a lot of people aren’t happy with it freshman and sophomore year and those people transfer. There are some people who are very happy to get out of Carlisle by the time they graduate. [Dickinson’s 1-year retention rate is about 91%.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Dickinson before you entered as a freshman?
I think just knowing that it would get better second semester of freshman year.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go in town and explore the stuff outside of campus, like the hiking spots.
Reasons to attend Dickinson:
1) The professors are really great and you can get one on one time with them.
2) You’ll make really, really close friends. If you’re involved in extracurriculars you’re going to have a pretty close-knit group of friends.
3) [About 70%] of people study abroad. Even most athletes study abroad.
Reasons to not attend Dickinson:
1) Sometimes it does feel too small. You can’t walk across the street without seeing somebody you know. You can’t be anonymous if you want to be.
2) Carlisle’s not that great. Don’t be tricked by the aesthetic value of the campus when thinking about the school itself.