Franklin & Marshall College
BackgroundInterview Date:October 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Private Jewish day school outside of Boston with a graduating class of about 90 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Government with a focus in International Relations
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a Varsity Athlete, I used to be in a sorority but I just dropped, I’m in the Pre-Law Honors Society, I serve on the Student Athletic Leadership Committee, I participated in Life After College which is a semester-long workshop that helps develop professional skills, and I have the Marshall Fellowship which awards me a grant to do an independent project of my choosing
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I would say the fellowship because it’s really an amazing opportunity to do what I want to do with it. It gives you that financial support to do something you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. It’s been an amazing opportunity.
What is your weekly coursework like for your major?
It varies semester to semester and course to course. Right now, I’m taking my senior seminar which is time-consuming because I’ve been assigned a real asylum case, so I’m actually helping someone with their asylum problem. I’m assisting a lawyer and compiling the necessary documentation so they can hopefully win their case. So, you can imagine that it’s time-consuming, but it’s also really unique to F&M and is very rewarding.
Is there anything you feel the Government department does especially well or poorly?
I’ve taken courses in other departments, and I have found the professors in the Government department are amazing. I have made some really good relationships with them. They’re so excited and willing to help you outside of class, and it might not even be related to the class, it could be professional development or personal stuff. They’re all really excited to talk with you and help you and set you on the right path.
I’ve also liked the different types of classes offered. Obviously, Franklin & Marshall is a small college, and I’ve found that I’ve been able to take courses in a lot of different areas and through that find specific things I’m interested in and can see myself pursuing as a career.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Everyone wants to do well and in that sense it’s competitive, but I find that motivating as opposed to intimidating. It’s not competitive in a dog eat dog way. When I have exams in Government classes I work with other students.
What was your favorite class in your major?
For Introduction to International Politics, I had an amazing professor and I loved the coursework. I loved learning about the different theories, and that’s what sold me on focusing on international relations.
What was your least favorite class in your major?
I don’t know. I’ve had one class where I didn’t love the style of teaching but I really enjoyed the content. That class was Comparative Politics.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m really happy with the choice. I had always been interested in international relations. Growing up I was a huge current events and news junkie, and I also really enjoyed history. I found that pairing history with current events and applying that to the ways different countries interacted and how that shaped international policies translated into international relations. Freshman year I just signed up for any class that sounded interesting regardless of what department it was under, and my freshman spring I signed up for Introduction to International Politics and I got really lucky and loved it. I’ve enjoyed the coursework I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the internships I’ve secured in that field.
How was managing both your sport and your coursework?
I went to a high school that was an hour or hour and a half each way, so I was commuting two to three hours every day, then on top of that, I had courses, sports, and extracurriculars. For me personally, I think it was an easier transition than for other people in terms of balancing school, extracurriculars, and sports because I was forced to develop good time management skills.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Ware College House with one roommate.
Sophomore: Thomas, which is a suite-style living situation for sophomores. I had a single in a four-person suite. There were two singles, a double, and a living room for us.
Junior & Senior: I’ve been living on College Row, which is right across the street from campus. I have a three-person apartment. It’s great.
How was transitioning from your hometown to Lancaster, PA?
It wasn’t a big transition for me because a lot of my family went to F&M, so I’ve been here a few times before and had seen the city and the campus. I’m from a very small town, so I was very ready to go somewhere new. Lancaster isn’t a big place, so it was a pretty easy transition. It’s been fun to explore the food scene because there’s a lot of good food here. I also had older kids on my team who could help me in whatever area I needed in terms of transition.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel pretty safe. I haven’t had any experiences where I’ve been scared or anything like that. My apartment is really close to campus, so I’m not scared to walk home late at night from the library. The Loft apartments are a farther walk away, but if I was scared to walk there is a free shuttle available that I could take.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
There are a lot of fun places to visit around Lancaster if you want to hike or explore Amish culture. We do that sometimes and go for hikes.
Pros and cons of being in Lancaster, PA?
Pros: (1) A lot of people think that Lancaster is in the middle of nowhere and there’s nothing to do, but there is a downtown and a city area. There are things to do here. It’s not all horse and buggies.
(2) There’s a huge refugee population and that leads to amazing restaurants and every cuisine you can think of. A lot of students enjoy trying new foods and meeting new people. I definitely recommend people take advantage of the restaurant scene.
(3) It’s about an hour away from Philadelphia. If you have a car you can drive and if not there is an Amtrak station.
Cons: (1) If you don’t want an hour-long [commute] into Philly.
(2) If you want to be closer to an airport.
(3) It’s hard if you don’t have a car. Freshman year you can’t have a car and it can feel a little bit restrictive.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at F&M?
It’s been different year to year in terms of what Greek life is like on campus. The culture has changed a little bit this year, so during the week I mostly hang out with friends, but on the weekends I’ll go to different types of parties on campus or off campus. Now that I’m 21 I also go to the bars downtown, and, besides that, I mostly go to apartment parties.
What have been your favorite times at F&M?
I’m lucky that I’ve really enjoyed my experience overall, so pinpointing something specific is touch. We had a snow day my freshman year – we rarely have days off due to weather – and we all went to a Loft with a bunch of my teammates. It was really nice and fun basically having a long weekend all together.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I think Greek life has changed with the administration’s stance on Greek life, but I also think it’s for the better. During my first two years Greek life was the backbone of the nightlife. Now, parties are still held at apartments of fraternities, but sports teams and other organizations and clubs are becoming more prominent in that more people not in those organizations are going to those parties.
How happy are you with the nightlife at F&M? Is there anything you would change if you could?
My first two years I thought it was great and I had a lot of fun, but the school has become a lot stricter on parties, security, and the rules of those parties, so for that reason I don’t really go to frat parties anymore. But, we have some new deans here and I’ve been hearing that they are pursuing a change, so I would be excited to see that. I tend to stick to more apartment parties and bars because the frats aren’t what they used to be here.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Playing a varsity sport here takes up a lot of time. We have two-hour practices every day and if we’re in season we have matches on the weekends, which can take a very long time, or we’re traveling to different colleges for a full weekend, so you become very close to those people. One of my roommates for the past two years isn’t on the team and I met him through a pre-orientation program, which was a community service project that you apply for, and we have stayed friends.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I’d say there are two big groups: athletes and friends of athletes who are affiliated with teams, and the other group would be people involved in Greek life. There are definitely people who have fun and go out who don’t fit in either of those boxes. There is also a big art scene in terms of acapella and drama and all that, and those people make up another group, but I think it’s smaller. This is also coming from somebody who was in Greek life and is an athlete, so that is my perspective on things.
How would you describe the student body?
I think the student body is pretty diverse in terms of everything. A lot of my friends through my sport have been international students, so in that sense I am around different cultures, religions, and languages. [15.6% of students are international students.] There are also people from all over the U.S. [Students come from 45 States and Washington, D.C.] The political affiliation also varies.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
As a straight White woman, I don’t know if I can answer this question well. I know there are specific groups for certain groups. I think it makes sense that people want to be with similar people.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Just by talking to people I’ve been able to make really good connections. I got my last summer internship partially because I met someone who had worked there and was successful in his job there, and he was able to give me some inside tips on what to do and how to pursue that.
Have you used the career center at all? If so, how helpful is it?
We have an office on campus called OSPGD. I participated in the Life After College program, which you have to apply and interview for. If you get in, it’s a semester-long workshop that helps you develop different professional skills and networking skills. It was amazing. I’m really glad I got into that program. They would have professional lecture series where different alumni from different industries would come in and tell you about how they got from F&M to where they are now and give advice. I found the OSPGD office really valuable.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about F&M before you entered as a freshman?
When I toured, they didn’t show a dorm room and that was a red flag for me. But, they redid all the dorms and they’re pretty nice. So, I just wish I knew that the dorms are nice.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
It’s pretty valuable if you’re able to stay overnight so you get more of a glimpse of how people interact, get a sense of the dining hall and dorms, and stuff like that.
Reasons to attend F&M:
1) It’s a really good education. I think the skills you learn and the people you meet will help set you up for a successful future.
2) I didn’t want to go to a huge school after going to a smaller high school. The size of the school and the size of the classes have been really amazing because you get to interact with the other students and get to know your professors.
3) I was able to play a varsity sport. I was able to work my butt off and actually play, which was really rewarding.
4) I met so many different people who go here in terms of personality and everything else, and the vast majority of them are happy in whatever they’re doing. F&M provides many different ways for you to be happy academically and socially.
Reasons to not attend F&M:
1) If small schools aren’t your thing, this probably isn’t the place for you.