Franklin & Marshall College
BackgroundInterview Date:October 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: December 2019
High School Experience: Private school in Tokyo, Japan with a graduating class of 240 students. Only one other person went to college in the United States.
First-Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: Club Sports, Co-Ed Honors Fraternity, Senior Honors Society, Tour Guide, Works for International Admissions
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
The co-ed fraternity that I’m a part of because I rushed it during my freshman year and I’ve met a lot of people and developed relationships through that organization.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
For my major I don’t have as much reading as I would in a Sociology class. It’s a lot of writing integration papers and reading case analyses. It works on your ability to write concisely and clearly.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I consider all the professors in my department to be very friendly and willing to help. They’re always there when you need extra assistance. I don’t think the major itself can do much about this, but there isn’t a lot of diversity within the students in my major, which I sometimes wish was different.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
If anything, it’s more collaborative, but it’s not a very friendly environment in the Business major. If you have a few friends in your class you only associate with them. It’s not like you talk with everyone in your class. You don’t get to know the other students well through the class.
What is your favorite class in your major?
My intro to business class called Strategies for Organizing. There was a collaborative project where we got to work with a local business in Lancaster. We interviewed them, wrote an analysis, and make recommendations. It was a lot of work but I felt like I learned a lot.
What is your least favorite class in your major?
Managerial Accounting. The topic itself was very dry. The professor was also not one of my favorites. He didn’t seem very invested in the topic and that brought down my motivation.
How was transitioning academically from your school in Tokyo to F&M? Were there any systems in place to help you adapt?
It was a really difficult transition for me because my high school was in Japanese, so it was a really long time since I studied in English. There wasn’t a lot of institutional support in terms of that, but the professors were very understanding. They didn’t make exceptions for me, but whenever I went to talk with them about something I was struggling with they were very understanding.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose Business because if you want to find a job or an internship in America [you should study something in that topic], so that was definitely a factor. I was also interested in marketing and advertising before coming here so the business major was in the back of my mind, and there was nothing else I would have rather majored in. I’m really happy with my decision. Sometimes it does feel very dry and like I’m learning things that everyone already knows. Especially with marketing, I feel like some of the material is pretty obvious. But, at the same time, I feel like I’ve learned a lot of skills that will actually be useful after graduation.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Brooks College House with one roommate
Sophomore: Thomas in a suite with four other people and I had a single bedroom.
Junior: College Row Apartments in a single bedroom with three other roommates, second semester I went abroad
Senior: In a house in West James with two other roommates.
What has been your favorite living situation?
I really like the house I’m in now.
How was transitioning from Tokyo to Lancaster, PA?
That transition wasn’t that difficult. I think I care more about the people, that affects me more than the geographical location. It definitely helps that Lancaster is still suburban and not in the middle of nowhere because I don’t think I would have been able to handle that. I’ve also moved around a lot in my life so I’m used to living in a different place.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never felt unsafe or uncomfortable walking around campus at night. I would feel less comfortable if I was walking off campus really late at night. Other than that, I can walk downtown Lancaster during the day and I feel fine.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I have too many, I don’t know. One of the many cafes in Lancaster. I really like the cafes.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Long’s Park, which is in walking distance of campus. It’s a really nice park. I also go downtown to a café and hang out.
Pros and cons of being in Lancaster, PA?
Pros: (1) You can walk to downtown Lancaster and there’s a lot to do there. There’s Central Market, and I really enjoy that.
(2) How diverse a place Lancaster is. It doesn’t necessarily feel like I’m a foreigner here. [The three most common origins in Lancaster, PA are the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and Ethiopia.]
Cons: (1) When you go downtown it can sometimes be sketchy. I know friends how have had problems with homeless people nagging and following them. [The city of Lancaster has a violent crime rate 112% higher than the national average and the property crime is 49% higher than the national average. But, it should be noted that the college is located in one of the safer areas of Lancaster.]
(2) We don’t have much public transportation, so it’s difficult to get around without a car.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
During my first year and a little bit of my second, I used to go to fraternities, but I’ve stopped doing that. I also went to the parties that were held by the frisbee team and my Greek organization because I know them better, and I still do that sometimes. Since then, I mostly just hang out with friends.
What do you and your friends like to do when you hang out?
It depends. Now that we’re all seniors we’ll go downtown to a bar sometimes, but we also just hang out and talk.
What have been some of your favorite times at Franklin & Marshall?
This isn’t a very specific memory, but just the fact that I live so close to my friends and they’re almost always accessible. Like, whenever I want to hang out with someone I can walk to their place and do it, and that’s something I really appreciate about F&M.
How happy are you with options for weekend activities at F&M? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It would be nice if the parties were a little more open to other students instead of having to be on the guest list or belong to some sort of organization to be a part of it. The clubs and nightlife downtown is more like that except you have to be 21. I don’t know what else the school could provide or do to make it different.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I would say through my college house, ultimate frisbee, and the co-ed fraternity I’m in.
How would you describe the social scene?
There’s a lot of different groups of people. It’s a little segregated socially. You can go about identifying what groups people are in and what kind of people they’re friends with. Not that there’s any hostility between groups, it’s just that there are so many different types of people here that people would rather hang out with people of their own kind.
To what extent do you feel international students mix with domestic students?
It really depends on the student and where they’re from. We have a lot of Chinese students and you can obviously understand why they are not able to integrate as well. There are a lot of international students who hang out amongst themselves. Like, I have a lot of international student friends as well as American friends. It also depends on if the international student belongs to a club, a varsity sport, or is very involved in an organization. That really changes if they end up hanging out with domestic students.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Not a lot. In terms of sexual orientation, I feel like there’s more of an acceptance and integration. Racially, there is not as much.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of F&M by senior year?
I don’t know. This is a conversation I have often with my friends. I have some friends who say they don’t love F&M but at this point they’re content with it. I’m sure there are lots of people who really like F&M. I think for everyone it’s more of an attachment to the people they’ve met here than the school itself.
Was there anything that surprised you about F&M or American college overall that surprised you when you arrived on campus?
How much people watch Netflix and TV shows. That surprised me and still does. Also, I went to an international school for a little bit of my life before coming here and I think I can in with a very biased perspective that it was going to be like an international school, so I totally did not consider the fact that I was a foreigner coming to an American school with majority American students. That was kind of a shock that I should have expected. I was also surprised by the racial tensions in America that I was never exposed to growing up. That was a very new concept for me.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, I was part of their Life After College Success program for juniors. They gave us a mailing list of some alumni and I reached out to them. I did have some good conversations with some people and I know they’re willing to help. I just feel that it’s difficult as an international student to actually go somewhere from there.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I used Excel, and for one of my statistics classes, I used SPSS. It’s helpful. They also hold Excel workshops for business majors who want extra help.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about F&M before entering as a freshman?
I don’t know how they would do this, but the whole idea of hyper-masculinity and how much being a varsity athlete or in a fraternity is tied to the social status here.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Something that is not very tangible is how amazing the professors are here and the relationships you can build with them.
What is something a prospective international student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
F&M does embrace how many international students we have, but it’s not a very diverse group of international students. [15.6% of students at F&M are international students.] [More than half] of international students are from China, so I know a lot of international students were shocked when they arrived at international student orientation and found no one other than Chinese people.
Reasons to attend F&M:
1) The academics. I’ve definitely learned a lot.
2) Studying abroad is really encouraged and there are so many programs. [Over 50% of students study off campus at F&M.]
3) They give a lot of scholarships and grants for research and travel over the summer.
Reasons to not attend F&M:
1) I feel like sometimes the work I put into academics here isn’t recognized because the school is not that well known. If you were able to get into a higher ranked school you would probably do as difficult of work.
2) It’s a very typical East Coast, White, privileged school. If that is something you’re uncomfortable with then maybe don’t come. [Socioeconomically, 48% of students come from the top 5%. About 56% of students are White.]