BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: I went to an independent school in Manchester, Vermont, with 150 to 200 students in my graduating class. The town paid for students in the area within a certain radius to go to school, and students outside of that radius had to pay tuition to go.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Neuroscience, on the Pre-Health track
Extracurricular Activities: Pre-Health Society, club soccer and Greek life.
Do any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Club soccer and Greek life have had the biggest impact.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your Neuroscience Major?
My freshman year I had three labs every semester, and my sophomore year I had two labs every semester. The majority of my homework was for lab and my classes. My workload was not as much assigned homework, it was more studying to keep up with the classes. We spent a lot of time working through problem sets and going through notes to understand the information from class. Many of the classes are lectures and there was not much discussion. I did have classes outside of my major, like Distributional Climate, which was different and had more discussion.
What are your major graded assignments?
The major graded assignments are exams for almost every class. I’m a Neuroscience major but I’m also on the Pre-Health track, so, in addition to Neuroscience, I take different science classes for the Pre-Health program. Within the Pre-Health and Neuroscience, 60% is exam based and the remaining percent is homework, online assignments or lab reports.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
I’ve enjoyed my lab work in the Neuroscience department. During my internship this summer, I was able to talk about the work that I had done in the specific labs. In the fall semester, I was able to work with mice and was able to take out their brains and learn about them. The lab work has prepared me for my future and work outside the classroom. I can’t think of anything done poorly.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s collaborative. At Dickinson, everyone wants to study and learn together. This is because the exams are rarely curved. Because things are rarely curved and professors write tests in ways want you to do well, [the learning environment] is less competitive. At Dickinson, the classes are small and you get to know your classmates and professors well. I have intimate relationships with my professors because I am able to talk to them during their office hours when I’m struggling or need help in certain areas. [The average class size is 15.]
What made you choose your major? And are you happy with your choice?
Yes, I’m happy. I want to go to medical school and want to go into the health field, so I knew that I had to do something in the science area. I chose Neuroscience because I enjoyed psychology, biology, and chemistry in high school. Neuroscience is a great combination of the more social sciences but also the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. It is also the major that has the most Pre-Health requirements. There’s overlap between the Neuroscience and Pre-Health. The Pre-Health aspects give me a lot of other courses that I would not have taken otherwise. I am happy with my major and enjoyed it so far.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I enjoy going out to social events or parties with my friends. That’s my favorite thing to do. Last semester I had to stay in a lot of the time because of homework, but I do enjoy going out when I don’t have to stay in. I usually go out Friday and Saturday nights with the occasional Thursday night thrown in there. We have to stay on campus, because of a new housing rule they have. That has changed a lot of the locations where people will go. My freshman year and my sophomore year students tended to go off-campus for social events, but everything been pushed back onto campus and I can’t go to bars [because I’m not 21].
Can you describe a typical night going out in freshman year?
You start to get ready to go out between 8:00 – 9:00. Joining a sorority has allowed me to make friends, find places to go, and I now have a bigger group to go out with. I was clueless where to go the first few weeks of freshman year. My friends and I would wander around until we found a house that was playing music and just went in, but most of the time now you receive a text message about where to go.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Dickinson? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Taking away the off-campus housing has made nightlife harder because there are not many places to go and there are not many houses that can host a large number of people. The first semester of my freshman year, there were many places to go and they were all off campus. The first semester of my sophomore year, DPS (Dickinson of Public Safety) has cracked down and shut down a lot of social events which is tough. But, for the second semester, it calmed down a little bit.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in Davidson-Wilson. I was in a double with one other roommate.
Sophomore: I lived in Morgan Hall, which is suite style. I had one direct roommate and two indirect roommates and there was a hallway between the rooms. We had a bathroom within our room what I liked.
What was your favorite living situation?
The past year in Morgan Hall, because we had our own bathroom and I was able to choose my roommate. The rooms were also bigger and the common areas were more enjoyable.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I never felt unsafe in any way. I would not recommend walking around alone at night off-campus, but I felt always safe walking home from the library at 3 or 4 a.m. I always see DPS cars driving around campus. They have an active presence and we have the blue light system. Be aware if you’re walking home at night from somewhere off-campus. I would always walk with a friend, but I think that’s just common sense.
How is the transitioning from Vermont to Carlisle?
The weather is different. I miss the winters in Vermont. It is nice to go to a slightly bigger school, but it is nice that it still feels small. Most students at Dickinson are from the northeast so it wasn’t a huge culture change and I feel comfortable on campus. I felt more of the transition moving from home and having more independence, rather than the location.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I enjoy it all. We have a great local food selection in Carlisle. My favorite is Helena’s, which is a crepes restaurant and is good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Another good restaurant is Kimberly’s Cafe which is an inexpensive breakfast place and is a 30-second walk from my dorm. For dinner I like Brick.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
The club soccer fields are a bit off campus. It is within walking distance, but it nice to be off campus. Traveling to an away game is also nice. Helena’s is one of my favorite places, as well. It is a great place to eat and do homework.
Pros and cons of being located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania?
1) You have a community feeling. There are not that many chain restaurants or stores. There are more locally owned stores and it’s fun to get to know the owners and the people that work there. I know people that always go to certain cafes and the owners know them by name and their drink orders.
2) I like that it is safe and the main locations in Carlisle are within walking distance from campus.
3) It is a nice change to be in a new area and be away from home. I’m from Vermont, which is 8 hours away from campus.
4) Carlisle is in good proximity to Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is about an hour and a half or two hours from each city, so you are not completely in the middle of nowhere.
1) Carlisle is not a city. Any student that wants a city with shopping and stuff like that, it wouldn’t be the ideal environment.
2) Carlisle doesn’t have the most exciting weather. I like snow and it doesn’t snow that much.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My freshman year, my dorm room was one of about 5 rooms that had grown mold over the summer. So, I had to live for the first month in a smaller house, the Vincett House. The house had only eight girls and one became my best friend. It helped that we were in a smaller environment and that it was easier for us to connect because we were all kicked out of our rooms because of the mold.
The best way I have made friends is through being in a sorority and being an athlete. There’s so much bonding in those groups and there are so many ways to meet people and talk to people in different activities that we do. That is the best way to meet new people.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Dickinson?
It is inclusive. For me, Greek life has been a huge part of my social life and to interact within my organizations and other organizations. Greek life plays a big part in my social life and I don’t know any girl that turned away from a sorority. Everyone finds a sorority to join, which is great about Dickinson. Dickinson is also a school where you are able to be involved in different things like Greek life, athletics, playing an instrument, etc. That makes it easy to meet people. Staying on campus has allowed me to meet people and be social.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
I feel like everyone is able to be friends with whoever they want. There are no social norms that are exclusive in any way. However, I always find it interesting that in the cafeteria, everyone is always sitting with the same group at the same location. In that way, it is weird how students stick at the cafeteria. Other than that, Dickinson is inclusive and a safe environment regardless of your race or sexual orientation. [In 2018, about 56% of the undergraduate population was White, about 4% was Asian, about 16% were international students, and about 6% were Black.]
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Dickinson? Do you think people love Dickinson after they graduate?
There is a shift in happiness. Recently, we have had two fraternities kicked off campus and taking away off-campus housing has made a lot of students unhappy. In general, schools in America have been cracking down on Greek life. Fraternities are social and fun to be with, but Dickinson’s decision to crack down is tough on the overall happiness of the student body.
Dickinson is not listening to the student’s opinions. There was a petition that was sent out after students were forced to move back on campus. [Over 1,000 students] signed the petition, and it was never recognized.
The students have felt deceived throughout the whole process and some of my friends have transferred after their sophomore year because they are upset about these two decisions. There is room for improvement and there is a big disconnection between the students and administration, but if they are able to fix it the students be much happier. I will say, there are many students that are happy at Dickinson. The group of students who have decided to transfer and were unhappy is pretty small.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t used the alumni network. I found my internships and jobs on my own, but I have heard of people using it and working it out.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I have never used the career office, but I do plan to use it. One of my friends has used it and it was helpful. I’ve never needed it but I will when I start to think about my future and the next steps after graduation.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew before about Dickinson when you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew how the administration is disconnected from the students. I don’t know if it has always been like this or started during my time, but I would be more aware of how that impacts student feelings about the school.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Walk through town and walk on High Street and look at the restaurants and the small stores, because that is something that I have enjoyed about Dickinson. During the tour, we spend most of the time indoors. I would recommend taking time to walk outside and look at the places to study or do work outside the science center. Or, go to the Academic Quad and look at the campus. That is something that I enjoy and missed on my tour.
Reasons to attend Dickinson:
1) I love the small campus because it is easy to get to class and to meet new people. Being on a small campus has many benefits and not many cons.
2) Sororities are great and are worth investing your time in during college. I got a lot out of it. At Dickinson specifically, sororities don’t have to be your life and you can be involved in other things. It gave me leadership roles, ways to make friends, and positive memories. I recommend looking into Greek life.
3) The academic culture has been positive and a good amount of stress. It is stressed out enough to make it feel like I’m in college, but I’m not so stressed out that I can enjoy social events occasionally and I’m not stuck in a library all the time. So, the academic culture is good and positive, most of the students are very happy with it.
Reasons to not attend Dickinson:
1) The disconnection of the students with the administration. I would like to see that change and I’m hoping that it does change in the future.
2) [Fraternities have been getting kicked off campus]. It can be hard for boys to find a good social niche and find their way in that regard. It might be hard for students to find social things to do, especially at night.
3) There aren’t many options for dining. It is a small school and we don’t have 5 different dining halls.