BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public high school in Maryland with about 500 students in the graduating class.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Double major in Policy Management and French
Extracurricular Activities: I am in an acapella group. I work at the Clarke Forum, which is a forum for contemporary issues and we bring speakers. I am in a sorority. I am on the equestrian team, which is a club sport.
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
They all had a significant impact on me, but my sorority had the biggest impact because it exposed me to a huge number of people and I had ties to a very large organization.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
It depends on the semester. When I’m taking an Economics course or an upper level Policy Management course it can be more demanding, but in my first year sometimes I had classes that were more difficult than later on. It does depend on the class because the suggested courses are diverse. In the first year, I had a seminar that was debate based, I took Business classes, Philosophy classes, and Policy Management classes. Many classes at Dickinson are writing heavy, but it wasn’t too bad. In some of my classes, I had essays throughout the semester, but I think it’s more of a Dickinson thing than it is specifically for Policy Management.
Is there anything that you feel your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
I’m not sure yet. I got my General Education courses out of the way first. My exposure to Policy Management courses is limited, but I have taken courses that are adding to my major but not specifically in my major. What I do like is the diversity of the classes because you get exposure to things you may not have otherwise. I got to take a class on morality, which was great, and I may not have taken if it weren’t something that was qualified for my major. The advisor for my major is nice, supportive, and tries to help you. I like that one of the requirements for the major is internship experience in your field. Next summer, I’ll have a policy internship in the real world and I like that they’re preparing you for what work will be like. I don’t think they do anything poorly.
Can you describe the learning environment at Dickinson? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It is collaborative. There is competition but it’s not students against each other. I had support from a lot of people and I got through my classes because of other students. We’ll make shared documents for studying. Throughout all of my classes, students help each other to succeed. I don’t have to worry about someone trying to get screw me over to get a better grade, because everyone is trying to survive together.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought within the classes?
It has a liberal leaning environment. We talk about social issues. It’s a liberal arts school, so that assumes that there is a more liberal atmosphere, but we talk about a lot of schools of thought. If a majority of the class have a certain view, my professors try to acknowledge a counter-argument. Their goal is to strengthen your own argument but also to expose you to other arguments. It doesn’t mean that the entire student population thinks the same way, but a lot of people at Dickinson are progressive.
What made you choose that combination of your majors? And are you happy with your choice?
I was always interested in doing business and policy. My Government and Politics high school teacher influenced me to take a Policy Management class and I liked it. Policy Management was the most interesting study and it is also employable. The course load of Policy Management gave me the exposure to different classes and by taking different classes, it would be a versatile major that I could use into the real world and apply for a multitude of jobs.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived over the past two years?
Freshman: I lived in Davidson Wilson, which is just nicknamed DW. I had one roommate.
Sophomore: I lived in two places. First semester I lived in the Romance Language House for the first semester and I had one roommate. Second semester I lived in Morgan in a suite with two other girls.
What was your favorite living situation?
The Morgan suite because I clicked really well with my roommates. I got lucky and had a double for myself but it was connected through a hallway to another double. I got my own privacy in my room but I could still hear my roommates and we were really close. It was a nice place to come back at the end of the night because it was like a little family with people that I liked.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
During the daytime, Carlisle is fine. I have not felt unsafe, but things happen off campus at night. There have been some issues this year with either gang or drug related activities. Somebody from Carlisle town was shot close to campus. This kind of thing worries you a little bit, but I know that these are not the best places to be at night. I’ve never seriously felt unsafe, but I don’t go there during the night. I don’t think anyone’s had any time trouble at night.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Issei Noodle, an Asian fusion restaurant. It is really popular and a lot of students go there. Mt. Fuji is a good sushi place. There are surprisingly a lot of good food places right off campus and even more if you go a little further.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Usually if I go off campus, I go home. Otherwise, I go to the [equestrian] barn, which is 15 – 20 minutes away. It is a nice escape when you need a few hours.
Pros and cons of being located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania?
1) You are in a nice scenic area for hiking. I know that the Outing Club has a lot of activities there.
2) You are close to Harrisburg. This is easy for students who need to fly in because it’s only 30-minutes from Carlisle and you can get a student to drive or an Uber or taxi to campus.
3) We’re close to the Amish country. We have a farmers’ market on Wednesday in the town square. The Amish community comes out and brings baked goods. I like that Carlisle is urban enough to have restaurants and shops and is also closely tied to the agricultural communities and do reap the benefits of orchards and small farmers.
1) A major highway that goes through the middle of Dickinson Campus, which results in a lot of noise.
2) There is pollution. The air quality is not fantastic. It is not so bad that you notice it, but students of Dickinson are aware of it.
3) It is not an urbanized area. There is not much outside Carlisle. Harrisburg is 30-minutes away. I grew up close to Washington D.C. and I’m used to having more small businesses and cultural experiences. Carlisle does a good job of putting it on, but it is less than I am used to.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
The most active nights are mostly on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; there are usually parties on these nights. The school puts on a lot of school-sponsored events, like they’ll offer food in the dining halls and little parties. Sports teams or sororities organize a lot of the parties. We don’t have that many fraternities. I like social events with girls from my sorority or if one of my clubs is hosting a party. Most of the time, I go to Greek organizations or to clubs that partner with Greek organizations and organize parties.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
It depends on the semester. Last semester I didn’t have any classes on Friday, so I had the option of going out on Thursday. Most of the time I go out on Friday and Saturday and occasionally on Tuesday or Thursday if I have no homework or have some free time.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
My freshman year was different compared to my sophomore year. I didn’t join a sorority until sophomore year and that changed my social life. In my sophomore year, I was part of multiple organizations, so I had more options and I didn’t have to worry about if it was a closed party. At Dickinson, you have to be part of an organization [to get into a party] for safety reasons and accountability.
What have been some of your favorite times at Dickinson?
Joining my sorority was a good experience. In the beginning it was a big-time commitment, but then it eased up. My favorite times haven’t been specific days or events. It is more moments, like hanging out with my roommates or spending time with people that I like. If there’s nothing to do on campus the other students can be like a great source of fun. My favorite part was getting to know and doing spontaneous things, either going to parties or going out in Carlisle.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Dickinson? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with it. A few fraternities have been kicked off campus, which limits the options. I’m in a sorority and sororities tend to organize events for themselves and with other clubs. My social life is taken care of for me because of my sorority, so I don’t have to seek out something to do. Personally, it is good, but for some other people who don’t have social ties, it can be more difficult. But, every organization works to have its own social life.
How did you meet your closest friends?
One of my closest friends is my roommate from freshman year. We were only roommates that year but we’ve been close friends ever since. I consider myself lucky to have and continue good relationships with the people I’ve lived with and those are some of my closest relationships. I have friendships within my sorority and at work. I’ve developed other friendships in the classroom. Dickinson is a small and solid community, you know people from multiple areas, which is nice and helps you build relationships when you see certain people for different occasions. I have met my friends in different areas but they connect sometimes as well.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Dickinson?
It is exclusive and it’s hard to be not affiliated with any organizations that have an active social life. It is exclusive in the sense that you have to belong to an organization, a sports team, a group, or Greek life to have a good social life because people do affiliate with their organizations. In terms of parties, this can determine your social life. Outside of the parties, people have friends that are across different organizations, but for party purposes, social life is dominated by organizations.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
It’s the liberal arts environment, so we’re always talking about social issues and there are demonstrations and protests. The school is cognizant of that. When the [travel ban] announcement came out from Washington D.C., the school made it a point to say that all of our students are welcome here and we never want you to feel unsafe. I am used to a larger demographic of diversity. Dickinson is trying hard to have a more diverse student population. [The Class of 2022 is 65% White and 21% domestic students of color.]
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Dickinson? Do you think people love Denison after they graduate?
I know some people who don’t like it and who left Dickinson freshman year. If you’re not involved with an organization that you love and fulfills you personally, I don’t think you’re going to have a good time. The people I know who didn’t enjoy it didn’t find their niche and their community, but the people who do love Dickinson and enjoy their time here. People have a love/hate relationship with the school because our school isn’t perfect. The student body isn’t great, but you love your friends. You can be annoyed with administration or Pennsylvania in itself, but I think people do leave loving it.
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
I should have used it earlier. I recommend new students to get familiar with the Career Center as early as possible because they have amazing resources, but you have to show initiative. I used the career center to get internship advice this summer. I spoke to a career counselor on the phone and that was helpful. They looked over my resume, which was also helpful.
Did you learn any computer programs that will be especially helpful for you professionally or for your course work?
No. In my French classes, I had to make podcasts and had to be familiar with different forms of audio formatting and I had to make videos. I didn’t really use Excel, but I worked with Word. I had to become familiar with audio and visual software named Audacity and iMovie, and another audio recording application, but don’t remember the name of it.
Have you used financial aid? And how accommodating is the office been to your needs?
Financial aid is the reason I came to Dickinson. I liked the school, but I couldn’t afford it without their large financial package that was comprised of both a grant and an academic scholarship. It has been integral in my experience at Dickinson and the financial aid office has been amazing. I have a good relationship with my financial aid officer, they’ve been supportive and without Dickinson being so generous, I wouldn’t be here.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew before about Dickinson when you entered as a freshman?
I wish I had known that I should join as many clubs as possible during freshman year without overdoing it. I was really hesitant to join clubs. It can be intimidating to join clubs and you can be worried about what the club says about your image, instead of doing something that you like. My experience would have been better if I had joined a club earlier. I would recommend to push yourself to join some clubs that you like. Don’t overload it because your academic work is also important, but joining a club is also important.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would encourage visiting students to get a tour without their parents. It is like the general tour, but there are some opportunities to see more things backstage. This is also an opportunity to ask questions you may not feel comfortable talking about in front of your parents for example about the social scene, sexual safety, safety in general or relationships on campus, romantic or otherwise.
Reasons to attend Dickinson:
1) There are a lot of academic opportunities. Be these from work or the connections that professors have or the way they encourage students, you are prepared for a good future in the real world and you do learn valuable life skills.
2) I love the students. It is a small campus and, because of that, you have more accountability for your actions because you know the people. It’s hard to be anonymous on campus. That can be good or bad, but I like that. I like the close-knit community.
3) It is a good school. We have connections with sister universities with big names. Academically it is a good school. You’re going to be challenged but it’s not overwhelming. There are resources to make sure you do well and you have to take advantage of them. It’s a great place socially, academically and you’re going to be challenged but it won’t be horrible. It’s a good college experience.
Reasons to not attend Dickinson:
1) It can be elitist. You have to be prepared to battle that. We do pull from some private school, prep schools, and boarding schools and not all people those people have a certain personality, but some stereotypes are true. Not that they’re not great people it’s just some of the stereotypes does exist and you need to be aware of that. [Socioeconomically, 71% of Dickinson students come from the top 20%]
2) The area outside of Dickinson isn’t fantastic. It can be gloomy at times but it is what you are making of it.
3) The food isn’t that good. A lot of people complain about the cafeteria and the dining hall options, inclusive myself. I am trying to get a place that has my own kitchen because I’m conscious about what I eat and I like to be able to eat healthily. There are healthy options, but they are not amazing. The smoothie bar is good and sushi is good, but everything else is not amazing. So, the food quality is average.