BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Graduation Year: 2018
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public school in Richmond, Indiana with about 400 students in my graduating class. There was a culture of going to college, but 50% went to college and those who did stayed in-state.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Music Composition
Extracurricular Activities: I volunteered for a music workshop program and I was a Music Theory teacher’s assistant.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The volunteer program helped to learn what benefits other communities and the music theory teaching assisting enable me to help other people in the school and it helped me to form relationships and better opinions on music itself. These two were very formative.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your Music Composition Major?
At least two hours a week of required listening by the end of senior year. As a composition major, I was consistently composing larger projects throughout the semester and on top of that, a lot of reading materials. My larger senior project was a semester long composition exercise of me creating a larger scale work with the help of an advisor.
What were your major graded assignments?
Most of the time we were graded on compositional projects. There were also quizzes and tests in theory, and sight-reading, singing, and being able to perform are also a part of the curriculum.
What kind of instrument do you play?
I play guitar, but I taught myself piano when I was in school. They offer those lessons and make you be a part of an ensemble for at least two semesters to two years. You do have to perform a bit.
Is there anything that you feel your department does especially well or especially poorly?
The small classes sizes were great because of the intimate relationships with the professors. They are easy to talk to and happy to help. What they didn’t do so well is that it is a classical department, so there is not a lot of pop music or Rock & Roll history. That is something that I would have appreciated more. [The average class size is 15.]
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s collaborative. People are consistently working with each other on theory homework or with actual performances. It’s conducive for collaboration as opposed competition.
How accessible have your professors been?
Incredibly accessible. They are easy to get a hold of most of the day and sometimes even after midnight.
What made you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I choose it because I have a passion for music. I don’t regret that decision, I think the path I chose was the one I wanted to take.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I like to go out and there are a lot of opportunities. I just turned 21 so can go to the local bars and that is what most people do. There are also house parties, and parties in dorms are part of the experience [when you’re younger].
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
I go to the bars on the weekend, every Friday and Saturday, and sometimes on Wednesday or Thursday depending on my schedule, but usually Thursday. Thursday nights, there is a karaoke night at a popular bar. Before that, on campus there are different parties organized by Greek life and varsities sports. There is always something available.
Can you describe a typical night going out in freshman year?
You start with [partying] with friends from 8:30 till 11:00, and after that try to find something to go for as long as you could. There is a local eatery on campus called The Quarry where you go after the night out and they sell pizza’s and tortillas.
What have been some of your favorite times at Dickinson?
Going with friends to happy hour at Gingerbread Man, which is a local bar that has happy hour. This was something that we did weekly after exams to celebrate being done. We will have 20 people or so trying to fit into that space. That’s one of my favorite experiences.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Dickinson? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I was happy with the nightlife. I wish I had met more people early on that could have made my experience better.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived over the past two years?
Freshman: My freshman year I lived in Adams Hall and I had one roommate.
Sophomore: I lived in Witwer Hall. I had one roommate, a common room and another double. So, I had 3 suitemates and one roommate.
Junior year: I was abroad for the fall semester. I came back in the spring and was assigned for a triple, but one roommate dropped out and the other one was a volunteer firefighter and was in and out, so I had it almost for myself.
Senior year: I lived in the Music Society House of special interest housing.
What was your favorite living situation?
The Music Society House. I was house manager, so I was in charge of the house and there were six singles and having a single was nice.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
On campus I never felt unsafe. After a night at the bar, it’s not strange to walk back with a feeling of unsafety at 2:00 a.m. I’ve never had any trouble but I know others have.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Carlisle Thai Cuisine, which is a Thai place a block away from campus.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I have family about 35 minutes away in a neighboring town called Mechanicsburg and I love to go there to get a nice home cooked meal and spend time with family.
Pros and cons of being located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania?
1) It is nice to be in smaller town, but it is not too small and has a downtown life.
2) The campus is small and intimate. It is easy to go from place to place.
3) Carlisle is a safe place to walk. There are always crossing guards and things that help you to facilitate which is a plus for the city.
4) There are a lot of great places to eat.
1) There are some places in Carlisle that are unsafe to visit at certain times. I’ve known people to have some trouble safety-wise in town.
2) We are far away from anywhere you might want to visit. We are far away from Philadelphia and New York, and it can be nuisance to get there. Harrisburg [is about 30 minutes away, but it] doesn’t have much to offer.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends when I signed up to be a dining services worker on the first day of orientation. That was an instantaneous connection. I met most of my other friends through mutual connections and then I started to make a larger web. People are friendly, which makes it was easy to add new people into the circle.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Dickinson?
There is nightlife here. The people are predominately white and I think some of us are segregated. There is a historically Black fraternity and a historically Hispanic fraternity. Maturity wise, you’re looking at way underage drinkers on the weekends if you’re not at the bar where only seniors are going. During the day, it’s more athletics based. Varsity sports and club sports have an impact where you end up socially.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
I would say to an extent, it’s mixed. It’s not as common as it should be. There is some level of segregation built into the community, but they are trying to fix it. [In 2018, about 56% of the undergraduate population was White, about 4% was Asian, about 16% were international students, and about 6% were Black.]
How would you describe the student body?
I would say liberal-minded, forward thinking. We are known for our sustainability. There’s a push to recycle and to be sustainable as possible composting. The student body is leaning toward that idea and is open minded and progressive. There are some students more conservative, but most students are White and left-leaning.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Dickinson? Do you think people love Denison after they graduate?
Most people do love Dickinson. I have seen people that are not so pleased by the end of their four years. 60 percent or more are pleased with their education, but I’ve talked to less-studious social circles and they have felt like they missed something. I’m not sure what, but there are some social components for example the segregated nature of going out gives the minority students a skewed outlook on the experience that I had. There are different factors that can influence that.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
Sparingly. I’ve been there a few times and did not utilize as much as many of my other peers.
Have you learned any computer programs that will especially helpful to you professionally?
Yes Sibelius, it is a music notation software that I was able to get acquainted with through my time at Dickinson.
Have you used financial aid? And how accommodating is the office been to your needs?
I did receive financial aid. We didn’t have problems with the amount that we received. We were given what we needed, so they were accommodating.
What is something you wish you knew before about Dickinson when you entered as a freshman?
I wish I had known that the music department was classically oriented. That was a shock to me and was disappointing.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go to different places to eat on and off campus. Most of the prospective students get to eat in the cafeteria, but on campus, there are two other places to eat and are both pretty good.
See as much of the social life as possible. It’s a big part of coming to Dickinson.
Reasons to attend Dickinson:
1) The small school lends itself to smaller class sizes and more intimate learning. [There are about 2,400 students at Dickinson.]
2) You are able to meet people easily and have a tight network.
Reasons to not attend Dickinson:
1) If you want a big school with more different options, Dickinson is not the right school for you. This is a small school and gives you a broad education and they are not so precise in a specific field.
2) If you’re a person of color, you might struggle a little bit trying to fit in with the main group of people that go.
3) There’s sort of a white preppy vibe that dominates campus and that can be alienating to people.
4) If you know what you want to do, you might have a better chance of finding it somewhere else, but if you don’t know what to do it’s a good place to try and find out.