An Interview On
Franklin & Marshall College

Background

Interview Date:October 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Black
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: From Boston, and went to a boarding school in Connecticut with a graduating class of 186. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Psychology
Minor: French
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a T.A., I work with Squash ACES, I’m in the International Psychology Honors Society, I’m in a national honors fraternity, I tutor for Psychology Statistics, and I do research in one of the labs on campus

Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
I really like tutoring, which is why I keep on doing it. I like to help people, especially through Squash ACES, because a lot of the students, [who come from lower-income public elementary schools], don’t typically see people like them going to college. I think it’s really important to have a role model who is more of a reflection of who you could be rather than just a wall. Through the program, I help them with English, Math, and then later on I help with college essays.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
The Psychology major is pretty chill in general. I don’t typically have labs. Most classes are either seminars, which are three hours once a week two hours twice a week. Once you get to upper-level classes you are reading a lot of studies based on the subject that you’re taking. You take tests and learn how to run experiments, write academic articles, and stuff like that. When you get to the 400-level classes you actually start designing your own experiments to run on students at F&M or people in general. I’m in a couple of 400-level classes now so we are learning how to get approved by the Institutional Review Board, run experiments, collect and analyze data, and then present it at the research symposium that happens once a semester.

How easy was it for you to get involved in the research that you do?
It was not the easiest. You have to be ready to bug your professors and tell them you want to do research with them. I didn’t really know I wanted to do research, so I didn’t get involved with it until later in my college career. They do have openings for people. It’s easier once you have the professor in class because they know who you are.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I love being a Psychology major. I could not imagine doing anything else on this campus. I love all the professors. You get to know the professors really, really well in this department. It’s a pretty big department, but I like to think that I know most of the professors really well. They care about the students and want people to do well, they want to know about you and your life and know that you’re doing okay, and, they want you to succeed academically even though they’re still challenging them. Even when I’ve disagreed with how they’re teaching the material, I still respected them as a person.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I don’t think it’s that competitive. I think the most competitive thing is before you declare and are trying to get into classes. The hardest thing about the Psychology major is getting into the classes you want, especially Psychology 100 because it’s one of the easiest labs to take on campus and everyone needs to take a lab class before they graduate. After that, it becomes way easier because nobody is trying to take 300-level courses other than Psychology majors.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
Psychopathology with Professor Penn. He is the intellectual love of my life. He’s really interesting and has this way of presenting information that captivates you. Even though it’s a three-hour class and he makes you read whole books before you get to class, you don’t mind doing the work because it’s so interesting.

What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Social Psychology. I thought it was boring. It can be fun, but the way I was taught was very boring.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
At my high school, they offered two psychology classes and I took them because I’ve always liked learning about people. That is super interesting to me. I had already decided that the whole chemistry thing was not for me. I remember taking a social psychology class and being able to go to a prison and talk to prisoners and hear about their lives and what led them to that point. I made up my mind right there that that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to learn about people and their behavior. I came to campus and said I was a Psychology major and I haven’t regretted my decision once.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I was very lucky as a freshman and I lived in New College House. I had one roommate.

Sophomore: Four-person suite in New College House. I shared a bedroom with one person and the four of us shared a common room.

Junior & Senior: In an apartment in New House with three other people.

How was transitioning from Boston to Lancaster, PA?
This is very different from where I’m from. People are nice here, which is not something that happens where I live. That was a big transition for me. I had a leg up on everybody already because I had been living away from home since I was 15. The only different thing was that now we were adding more alcohol and drugs and guys living in the dorm to the mix. I thought the transition was pretty easy. I did have my moments where I was like, “Oh my God, I’m going to transfer,” especially during orientation. But after orientation ended I actually liked being here. I love the campus feeling, which I wouldn’t have gotten in a city. I do miss being in a city and being able to take public transportation places.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I don’t leave campus that often. Sometimes I go downtown, but most of the time I spend in the Psychology lounge doing work and hanging out. Or, my friends and I will treat ourselves and get Chipotle and Dunkin’ Donuts and that will be kind of like a night out. I also have family friends in Manhattan, so I’ll go visit them to get out of Pennsylvania and that’s I nice change of pace.

Pros and cons of being in Lancaster, PA?
Pros: I really like how cute and small it is. I like the campus feel and I like that I don’t have to cross the street to go anywhere and I don’t have to take a bus around campus. I’m more of a city person, but I was willing to sacrifice that for the community and the campus feel.

Cons: Sometimes I get really frustrated that I’m not in the middle of the city.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
When I was a freshman I did the typical freshman thing and I went to frats. That got really tiring around second semester freshman year and I decided I cared more about my grades and sleep than going out. I didn’t really go out much freshman and sophomore year. I went out to frats about once a month because I couldn’t go to bars. Once I hit junior year I didn’t go out at all. I would order food and that felt like going out. But, then I went abroad and I went out all the time. Now that I’m back I’ll go to senior night at bars and clubs off campus. I’ll go to about two or three senior nights a month. I haven’t been to a “college party” since junior year.

What have been some of your favorite times at Franklin & Marshall?
Senior nights are super fun. I also like when we have Fall Fest and Spring Arts because day parties are always a good time. Listening to music, having free food, and chilling out is really fun because at F&M there is a stress culture and it is really nice to see students outside relaxing. I also like when it’s warm and then people start going out to Hartman Green and hanging out. It’s really fun to see people hanging out and talking with their friends and relaxing.

How happy are you with options for nightlife and weekend activities at F&M? Is there anything you would change if you could?
As a freshman, I was pretty content with what was happening, but when I was a freshman the school treated frats completely differently than how they treat them now. They started really cracking down and making sure the frats are doing certain things. That means they have become a lot more specific about who they’re letting into their parties, so you have to know someone in the frat if you want to go out and have fun. You also have to rely on that person putting you on a list and making sure you can go and your friends are on the list too. That seems like way too much effort. It also builds into the patriarchy because they are dictating where and when I can have fun.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
We were on the same hall freshman year. In New the halls are super wide, so we’d hang out in the hallway all the time. That helped us become really close friends. I have three super close friends on this campus. I’m friendly with lots of people, but there are about three people on this campus who I would do anything for and would do anything for me.

How would you describe the social scene?
You can party if you want to, but I also think it’s very easy not to. If you want to go find a party you can probably find one, but, if you want to stay in and do homework, you’ll find a bunch of people in the library at 9PM on a Friday night. It depends on what you’re interested in, but I do think their sober fun needs to be a little bit more fun.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Not much. Greek life on this campus, as it is most places, is very White. They’re very White for a whole host of reasons, but predominantly because most of the people of color here are of lower economic status so they can’t afford to pay a thousand dollars a semester for dues. That kind of promotes self-segregation. Most people don’t go to frat parties unless they know people, and people of color wouldn’t go to a party with a bunch of random White guys there because they don’t know anybody. If you are a person of color, and especially if you are a female of color who happens to be darker, it is really hard to get on the party lists because of built in biases, [social self-segregation], and all that jazz. I’m kind of a unicorn in that sense because I have a lot of White male friends in frats, but I am not like the majority of Black girls on campus. Most of them are not super close with guys in frats, most are close in with guys in IMPACT, which is a club on campus with predominantly people of color.

If you aren’t straight, it is also hard. They self-segregate to protect themselves because they don’t trust that they will be respected by members of certain communities. It’s Queer Visibility Week this week so I’ve been talked with a lot of people in the LGBT community and they don’t feel comfortable going to the frats.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of F&M by senior year?
F&M has a pretty bad retention rate. [For 2017-2018, the retention rate was 92%.] My roommate transferred after sophomore year because she couldn’t take it anymore. I think that once you make it through you’re like, “Oh my God, Thank God I made it.” But while you’re in it you [wonder why you’re there] because you could have gone somewhere where it’s easier, less stress, and I could sleep and party and get good grades. I think I still do love F&M, but my love has decreased a little bit over the years. It was really great to get off campus junior year because I was reminded of why I liked it, but first semester junior year I was feeling that seven-year itch.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No, but I haven’t actively tried reaching out to alumni. Most of the internships I’ve gotten are because of people I know.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful were they?
I’ve gone to OSPGD to talk to them about different things I can do and what I can do to make myself most desirable to people. At least with the adviser that I had, it only became very helpful when I went in with very specific questions. She wasn’t super helpful with questions like, “How do I get into grad school?” but when I came in saying, “I want an internship having to do with psychology and I want to work in a lab, how do I do that?” she was super helpful. When I was abroad and applying for internships she was very helpful because I would send her all of my applications and she would edit them and send them back. She was really good at helping me out even though she was 3,000 miles away. If you capitalize on them they can be very useful.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about F&M before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how hard it was. I did not realize that it was one of the hardest liberal schools. I had no idea what I was signing myself up for. I also didn’t know how stressed out I would be and how it would play into my less desirable anxieties that I have. I was an anxious person before college, and now I’m a much more anxious person.

What is something a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
They need to realize that, if they are not a conservative person, that we are in the middle of Pennsylvania in a very conservative place. I felt very unwanted after the 2016 election when Trump won. There was a swastika drawn on a blackboard and people were shouting pro-Trump things. I’m from a very liberal place, and I didn’t realize that there are some pretty conservative people here in Lancaster. That was a really big adjustment for me.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I think on a tour when you’re being thrown all this information you will miss how pretty campus is, especially now in the fall. It’s nice to sit back for a moment and look at the beautiful campus.

Reasons to attend F&M:
1) You will make really, really good friends here.
2) You’re going to learn a lot. You will have so much information packed into your head in such a small amount of time.
3) You will grow. I earned more about myself here than I think I would have elsewhere because I put myself in a place where I would not always be the most comfortable.

Reasons to not attend F&M:
1) The stress and how hard it is to do well. I have friends who are very smart and they have gotten grades that are not reflective of how smart they are and that’s not fair because they can’t pursue the things they want to do because grad schools will see that they got a C.
2) It is hard to do what you want to do. Registering for classes is very hard. I cried at the first few registrations I had on campus.
3) If you want to party all the time this is not the place for that.

Notice: Franklin & Marshall College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Franklin & Marshall College.

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