BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2019
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
High School Experience: Public high school outside of Philadelphia, PA with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Psychology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I am in a sorority, I’m in an acapella group, and I used to play a sport but I just quit.
Other than your sport, have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
Both the acapella group and the sorority, but probably more so my sorority. I joined the sorority during my second year because I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to be in Greek life and I ended up finding a group of really supportive wonderful women. They helped me explore Dickinson more and helped me learn more facets of Dickinson that I had not been exposed to my freshman year.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
The majority of my coursework is very heavy in reading and writing. For the higher-level classes of my Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies major there can be 150 pages of reading a night. For Psychology, it varies. The early classes are a lot of textbook readings and tests, the Research Methods and statistics classes are very numbers based, and then when you get into the seminars there’s a lot of reading, writing, and a lot of research papers.
Is there anything that you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
One thing they do well is I think the community that both of my majors foster is pretty incredible. I have yet to have a bad experience with a professor in either of those classes. One of my favorite things about Dickinson is the relationships professor can have with their students. In terms of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies department, they do a great job of cross-listing classes so you can explore other majors while fulfilling requirements in the major.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s definitely competitive, but in a good way. It’s almost frowned upon to not try hard. I’ve heard people describe Dickinson as a work hard play hard environment where people will be in the library until 10PM and then go out right after that. I would say academics hold priority at Dickinson.
What have been your favorite classes in your majors?
Psychology: Research Methods in Gender and Sexuality. We had free range to do a funded research project, and we did ours on LGBTQ athletes. The class itself was the professor and the research group together learning good qualitative methods, which sounds super boring but it ended up being really interesting
Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies: It’s a tie. One is the first class I took in the major, Global Genders, which was looked at gender and sexuality through a transnational and trans-historical lens. That framed the way I look at gender and sexuality. The second is Queer Politics, which was about disenfranchised populations in the U.S. and abroad and how politics effect that.
Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yes, I do. I consider myself pretty liberal, so I’ve never had an issue with that. I think a lot of the professors try to play devil’s advocate. I have one Philosophy professor who still no one knows what his actual beliefs are. He did a really good job challenging every student and broadening their horizons. [Overall,] it is a very liberal school and I have heard of people who are more conservative feeling like they are ignored or maybe don’t have a voice, but I also think that’s a result of the political climate. I would say that Dickinson has a pretty broad range of schools of thought, especially with the professors.
What made you choose the combination of your majors? And are you happy with your choice?
I went in my first year as a neuroscience major, but then quickly realized after taking chemistry that it was not for me. So, I went to Psychology because I’m really interested in how the brain works. I ended up taking the Global Genders class, absolutely loved it, and thought the two majors were pretty good for each other because there is a lot of crossovers. My advisor now is the head of the Psychology department and is a professor in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies department, so it worked out perfectly. Sometimes at Dickinson it is a little hard to double major because it’s a small school, which means there are fewer professors and fewer slots for classes, so I know a lot of people who have had to drop one of their majors because they couldn’t fit one of the classes into their schedule.
How was managing both your sport and your coursework?
It was hard and it’s one of the reasons why I quit. I love my team, I love my coach, and I love my sport, but I ultimately made the decision to stop playing because I didn’t want to grow to resent my sport because it was getting in the way of me doing my coursework. My majors are very reading and writing heavy, so it takes a couple hours to do all my work in one night and I simply just didn’t have time. But, that being said, I know a lot of neuroscience majors, biochemistry majors, and psychology majors who have handled the two really well together. I will also say that the Dickinson coaching staff is incredible in putting your student status before your athlete status. My choice to quit was because of me and not the coaching staff.
How easy was it to get involved in research?
One of the great things about Dickinson is if you put yourself out there at all with professors and are a good student and try hard you can get involved in research. One of my friends got published during our sophomore year in a chemistry journal. It’s really easy to get involved because of the small class sizes and you can get to know your professors. You can walk in their office and say, “Hey, this is really interesting to me. Would you be willing to help me out with this research?” if you know that a professor and their research concentration matches your interests. It’s pretty easy to apply or ask them.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Buchanan Hall which is a typical first year residence
Sophomore: Morgan Hall, which is an upperclassmen dorm style hall but it’s quads.
Junior: Abroad in fall and then lived in my sorority’s house. I had a single room and lived with 16 people.
Senior: Goodyear apartment building with three roommates.
What was your favorite living situation?
I loved my first-year dorm. Living in my sorority house was probably my favorite living situation, but I might have to tie it with my first year.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never had a bad experience. I know some people who have had bad experiences in Carlisle. It’s a college town and I wouldn’t classify it as very dangerous, but I wouldn’t walk home alone at night. There is very much a divide in Carlisle where there is the Army War College and their professors and then you have the people who have lived there forever and are of a lower economic status. [There is a 19% poverty rate in Carlisle.] That divide I think can create some hostility, but I have never had an issue with it and have always felt really safe.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
The Grazery, it’s a new one.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Dickinson’s awesome for this because you can go any direction and find stuff. There’s a great hiking spot called King’s Gap, there’s a place called Opossum Lake and it’s only a 10-minute drive away. After classes some friends and I will go there. A lot of people like to go watch the sunrise at a place called Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch.
Pros and cons of being located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania?
1) It’s a really interesting spot because you’re in rural Central Pennsylvania, but there are a lot of opportunities to work because there is the courthouse, the Army War College, and the Peacekeeping & Stability Operations Institute where you can work with four-star generals and diplomats. Penn State’s Law School is also right next to Dickinson. The academic environment of the town is a benefit.
2) There’s a lot of nature stuff to do around campus.
3) We have a farm that hosts a lot of cool events. You can work at the farm and visit the farm.
4) Harrisburg is [30 minutes away]. My friends and I just realized that we like going to Harrisburg. That’ll be nice to do next year. There’s a huge scene for rooftop bars there and cute restaurants. This past semester we started going out there if we don’t feel like hanging out in our rooms.
1) It is pretty secluded.
2) Central Pennsylvania for some reason thinks it’s the south and there are some people who fly Confederate flags on their trucks. I’m a White woman so I haven’t experienced anything like this, but I’ve had friends of color tell me they felt uncomfortable or had people shout a racial slur at them.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
This is changing because we have eliminated off-campus housing for this upcoming semester, which to me is not a huge deal. The scene at Dickinson is a lot of house parties. When we were younger we’d have small parties in the dorms or go to an older person’s house then go out to a couple of known spots that throw parties. Usually, they’re [associated with] Greek life or athletes. Dickinson also has a funny social scene because oftentimes the acapella group will host something or the frisbee team will have stuff, stuff like that. We also have a couple of bars near campus. Dickinson is definitely not a bar school, but when you turn 21 that’s usually where people go after the party. I usually go out Thursday or Friday and then definitely Saturday.
What have been your favorite times at Dickinson?
I lived in my sorority house this past semester and absolutely loved it. I thought it would be overwhelming at first because there are like 17 girls in the house but it was awesome. I love Dickinson’s nightlife and going out, but sometimes having a wine and cheese night and hanging out with people is a lot of fun. Dickinson also has awesome outdoor spaces, like Morgan Field, and we have on campus apartments with rooftops, so I think some of my best memories have been hanging out on rooftops with my friends on a nice day [laughs] or hanging out on Morgan Field. Academically, some of the research I’ve gotten to do in my classes and some of the classes I’ve been in have been great. I also went abroad last fall and that was one of the greatest experiences of my life. [Students are allowed to have alcohol on campus when they are 21.]
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Our public safety is a little strict. I respect what they do and understand that you have to keep people safe, but I think, especially my sophomore year, they were strict to a fault. They’d bust a party and have people walking around Carlisle. To me, everyone in one location at a party is safer than kids walking around in the middle of the night. That’s my only gripe with nightlife. I am the type of person where I really like big parties but also appreciate hanging out with small groups, so I’ve never had an issue with the nightlife. It’s hard to speak on it because they just got rid of off campus housing so we’re not exactly sure where the spots are going to be when we get back in the fall.
Has being a person who identifies as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience at all?
No, not at all.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met some of them through my sports team and then I met my absolute best friend through my sorority. I’ve also met a lot of friends in my majors and my acapella group.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Dickinson?
I think it’s fun. On most nights of the week there is something for you to do. I would say it’s a welcoming scene. Because it’s a small school and everyone knows everyone to an extent, you’re going to feel welcome wherever you’re going. You’re never going to walk into a party and not know a single face. I still see new people, so it’s not like high school, but I don’t think you can get lost in the social scene.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
I think it’s an issue. Especially this year, it’s been something that’s been brought to the administration’s and student leadership groups’ attention. There is no racism, and people of different races are friends with each other, but I don’t think the social scenes are integrated as well as they could be.
How would you describe the student body?
Overall, I think the Dickinson community is very civically engaged. I think the majority of people that go to the school really care about what they’re studying and about the world around them which has been cool. I love being surrounded by people that are pushing me to be better because they are doing cool things with their lives.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Absolutely. Last month I went to a networking happy hour in Philly. The president travels around and hosts these things where students, parents, and alumni can all gather and network and talk. My sorority has an incredible alumni network. We have a Facebook group where people are constantly posting about jobs and internships. Also, a lot of alumni will offer their homes if you are interning in a city that you don’t live in.
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
They’re super helpful. I’m doing an Internship Notation Program right now. There’s a woman who runs that and she will help you find internships and will be in close contact with you and when you finish it goes on your transcript. They also have a guide on how to interview, write a cover letter, and all that stuff. You can do walk-in appointments any day and they usually have somebody available to work with you.
Did you learn any computer programs that will be especially helpful for you professionally or for your course work?
I used Excel a lot in my Psychology classes. I also am now pretty good with SPSS and MAXQDA because of my research.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew before about Dickinson when you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew when they would get rid of off-campus housing. I don’t think it would have influenced my decision at all, but I do wish they had been clearer that off-campus housing would not be an option my senior year. It kind of sucks, I was anticipating living in a house with my friends off campus. A lot of students were pretty upset by that.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Goodyear Gallery. It looks so ugly from the outside, but inside there is an incredible art studio. It’s a pretty awesome artistic space that I have used and a lot of my friends have used. We also have a really great staff, like the people in the dining hall, and I don’t think the tours necessarily show you the community.
Reasons to attend Dickinson:
1) The people. I love the people at Dickinson.
2) The Professors.
4) The career and internship networking opportunities.
Reasons to not attend Dickinson:
1) There are a lot of people who transfer after the first or second year because they didn’t realize they didn’t want a small school. [In 2017 the 1-year retention rate was 91%.]
2) If you are looking for a big party school or a big sports culture it’s not here. If you’re applying here and Penn State, you probably don’t want to come here.
3) Because it’s a small school there are some major limitations. If there’s a certain major you’re looking for, it may not have it. We don’t have business, marketing, or communications majors.
4) If you only want one academic path, don’t come here because you have to take a lot of general education classes.