Franklin & Marshall College
BackgroundInterview Date:October 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Public school in New Zealand with a graduating class of about 250 students. There was a culture of going to college abroad.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Psychology and Sociology Double Major
Extracurricular Activities: Varsity Athlete, Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity, International Student Advisory Board, Student Athlete Leadership Council
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Mostly just my team because it’s played such a big role in my daily life. I spend two hours a day with them plus away trips and stuff.
What is your weekly coursework like for your major?
Usually, it’s a lot of reading and then some papers and exams.
Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
They both do a good job of giving us a chance to do our own research and get involved that way. For both majors, you have to take a statistics course where you do your own research and for Psychology you have to take a 400-level class that is a semester-long research project.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It can be both. It’s competitive in that everyone wants to do their best and people are vying for the same grants and scholarships. But, at the same time, everyone is willing to help each other and the classes are based around discussion and in a lot of classes we have shared study sessions.
How accessible have your professors been?
Very accessible for the most part. They’re always willing to meet with us.
What have been your favorite classes in your majors?
Psychology: Health Psychology
What have been your least favorite classes in your major?
Sociology: Sociological Theory, it’s one of those mandatory classes that’s really born.
Psychology: Psychology Statistics
How was managing both your sport and your coursework?
It’s pretty hard work, but you learn how to do it. The first semester I struggled quite a bit getting used to it, but I think you learn pretty quick. It also creates motivation to get your work done sooner.
How was transitioning from New Zealand to the US academically?
It was pretty tough. There are a lot of differences. A lot of my friends here have done huge amounts of college-level work all through high school. [In New Zealand] I never really had much homework. I’d never had to do citations or write a real paper, so it was a huge adjustment all of a sudden having a lot of homework every night. The professors were pretty helpful that first semester in getting me on the right track.
Were there systems in place to help you adjust academically as an international student?
We have our Connections courses during our first and second semester of freshman year to teach us [the material that I missed in high school]. There are also the advisers and a lot of other people who are around to support us if we need help and are good at catching us if we’re struggling.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: A dorm with one roommate
Sophomore: Thomas in a double room with one roommate and then we had two other roommates in our suite.
Junior & Senior: College Row
What is your favorite living situation?
How was transitioning from New Zealand to Lancaster, PA?
It was pretty tough. I had never shared a room before, so that was a big adjustment. Getting all of my stuff there was also a bit of a struggle.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I think it’s pretty safe. I’ve never really felt unsafe on campus. I know some people do, but if you ever feel unsafe you can just call up public safety and they will walk you home. I’ve stayed on campus for a lot of breaks when nobody has been around and I’ve always felt safe.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Chilangos is a pretty good Mexican place about 20 minutes away.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Any food place [laughs].
Pros and cons of being in Lancaster, PA?
Pros: (1) It’s good because we spend a lot more time on campus, so you get to know everyone on campus a lot better than if you were on a campus in a big city.
(2) It’s a nice little town. It’s pretty homey and you get to have a good feel for where you are.
Cons: (1) We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere. If you want to go to anything big you have to go to Philadelphia or somewhere else.
(2) It’s difficult to get to. I have to fly into Philadelphia and either catch the train or convince someone to give me a ride to Lancaster.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at F&M?
I usually just go out on the weekends. The nightlife is becoming less now because things have gotten a lot stricter in the past couple of years. Sports teams and some frats host parts in the Lofts or some of the houses that are off campus.
What have been your favorite times at F&M?
There have been a lot of fun social events with my team, like formals.
What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like to do for a night out?
I have a lot of friends who are in performing arts groups so I’ve gone to quite a few of their shows and concerts. Those are always good to go see.
How happy are you with the nightlife at F&M? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I was pretty happy with it my first couple of years, but now they’ve made things a lot stricter which makes it a lot more difficult [to have parties]. You have to plan a lot of things prior to the event and register the party with the school. You have to submit your registration form by midday Thursday to have a party on the weekend.
How was transitioning from a place where the drinking age is 18 to a place where it’s 21?
The buying age in New Zealand is 18 but the drinking age is kind of whenever your parents let you. At home, there were a lot more parties and big things and people tend to go to the bars a lot more by the time they get to university, which we can’t do here.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My team and a few through my freshman dorm.
To what extent do you feel international students mix with domestic students?
I think it really depends on the international student. There are a lot who really keep to themselves. I feel like I am well mixed in both communities.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think it’s good. There’s a lot of options. If you want to party, you can, and if you don’t there are a lot of options to pick from.
How would you describe the student body?
It’s a pretty diverse group. There is kind of a divide [along socioeconomic status] because we have a large contingent of people on financial aid. [Franklin and Marshall is fully dedicated to need-based financial aid and does not offer academic or merit-based scholarships.] I think there is a bit of divide between those who can pay for F&M and those who can’t, which can be sometimes kind of obvious. For the most part, it’s a pretty open campus. [Socioeconomically, 48% come from the top 5% and about 3% come from the bottom 20%.]
Were there any parts of Franklin and Marshall or American college overall that surprised you on campus?
The atmosphere is very different compared to what I was used to back home. Here, everyone is very driven and there is pressure from people on campus to do well and be involved in a lot of things, which is not really the case at home.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of F&M by senior year?
Yeah, I think everyone’s pretty happy. It’s a lot of hard work. If you make it through you come out good, but a bit fried [laughs].
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I’ve found help through a lot of people that I know. I have met people through the alumni network that I have tried to get internships from, but I have also found internships just by looking online.
Have you used the career center at all? If so, how helpful is it?
Yes, they’re very good. [I have not used them] for finding a job, but they were really helpful with finding out what I want to do with my life. They were open to meeting with you and helping you out with anything you need.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
Not a huge amount. I’ve done a little bit of Excel and a little bit of a statistics software called SPSS.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about F&M before you entered as a freshman?
The amount of work it was going to be. I knew it was going to be a lot, but not quite as much as it was.
What is something an international student should know about F&M that we haven’t touched on?
It will be different and it will at times be hard, but it will also be a lot of fun.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
How many cool events we have. There are cool guest speakers and there are always different events going on that you don’t really get to see on a visit.
Reasons to attend F&M:
1) It’s a good institution that will make you work hard, but you will appreciate it later in life.
2) There’s a lot of stuff to get involved in on campus.
Reasons to not attend F&M:
1) If you’re really into the party scene, that is getting more difficult depending on what groups you are in.
2) If you don’t want to work really hard, it’s probably not the best place for you.