University of Maryland, College Park
BackgroundInterview Date:July 2017
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2017
First Generation College Student: No
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college
Majors: English and Film Studies Double Major
Minor: Creative Writing
Extracurricular Activities: I worked for the Paper Shell Review, which is an undergraduate literary magazine, and The Diamondback, which is the school newspaper. I also worked in the Writing Center.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact?
Each helped create more of a skillset in terms of editing. Each job leads to the next job, like they opened up doors for me to tutoring jobs. I think I spent the most time on the Paper Shell Review, that helped me with my literature skills, being organized, and assembling something tangible with a deadline.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It was pretty similar for both my majors. There were not a ton of sit-down exams, we mostly had essays. When we would have exams, they’d be very writing heavy. Some professors have you do readings each week or read some of a book, maybe with a forum post or summary. Work for the Creative Writing minor is mostly reading other peoples’ short stories and writing your own.
Did you especially like or dislike anything about your majors’ departments? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
It more has to do with the number of people in the major. English is a bigger major than film studies. Film Studies didn’t always have a ton of things to choose from, but that’s a function of it being a smaller major. It’s not something they didn’t do well because there are only so many people to cater to. I liked that there were so many options in the English major. I liked pretty much all of my professors, they were pretty receptive to student concerns. Both majors had smaller classes, so you could get to know professors. Even in the low-level courses they kept class sizes small. I don’t have any major complaints academically speaking.
What were your favorite classes in your majors?
Film: Food, Film, and Culture. It looked into how food plays a role in movies.
English: This is hard to decide, they have lots of really good classes. I really liked my professional writing class, Non-fictional Narrative. They give you a lot of options to fill the professional writing general education requirement, which is not an English requirement. I also took Literature of the Holocaust, which was really interesting.
What were your least favorite classes in your majors?
Film Studies: History of Silent Cinema, which is a required class. You have to take a history of silent and history of sound for the film studies major. It’s really tedious and gets boring.
English: You have to take pre-1800 literature classes so any of those because they’re tough to read, and was not something that was super interesting to me.
What was a fun class you took outside of your major?
Intro to Criminology. It had nothing to do with what I wanted to do. I thought it’d be interesting. You learned a lot about basic criminology. Some of the classes I took for random general education requirements ended up being my favorite classes, like Communications 200 and Psychology 100.
Why did you pick your major?
When I was applying to Maryland they told you to pick a tentative major, so I thought that it didn’t really matter what I clicked. I clicked business because it was the first thing on the list that I thought I may do. I later got accepted to the Smith School of Business, which I wasn’t too sure about, but everybody told me I should stay because it’s a good school so I did. For the first two days I was a Business major, but I knew by day two I’d hate it. I knew I liked English and started it. Lots of people double major with English and wanted to pair it with something else, so I ended up in Film Studies. I knew English was a major that wouldn’t take up all of my time, so I could double major easily.
Are you happy with your major choice?
Yes, I think the choices I made each opened up an opportunity that opened up the next opportunity. I don’t think I’d be at the job I have now without the internships I had before, which I got through the film studies and English major. Sometimes I think I should have done English and an art-type major because with art I could have gotten more into the production of film, rather than the study of film. I think I could have learned more relevant information to my field if I did an art major but I think having film on my resume opens more doors than art. I don’t regret it, but also think I could have been happier with a production type major.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Hagerstown with 1 roommate in a standard freshman double.
Sophomore: I was abroad in the fall, then came back in the spring to live in the South Campus Commons. I lived in an apartment with three random girls. I had my own bedroom.
Junior: I lived with three friends in an apartment in Commons. They give preference to people that live in Commons so that helped us get our own place.
Senior: I lived in an apartment in Commons with three friends. The apartments have 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Busboys and Poets. Looney’s is also pretty good.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
If you drive a little way down Route 1 you’ll hit a coffee shop called Vigilant. It’s a very nice little space, there are lots of parents with babies, dogs, and it has a beachy vibe. It’s a good place to go study and hang out on weekends.
Pros and cons of being in College Park, MD?
Pros: (1) You’re close to D.C. and really close to the metro. You can go there whenever you want.
(2) Basically, everybody in College Park goes to, works for, or is affiliated with the university. There are lots of people to meet and hang out with.
(3) I always felt pretty safe honestly. You have the College Park police, the University of Maryland police, and the Prince George’s County police, so there are lots of responders around.
Cons: (1) Even though you have access to the metro College Park is remote. It takes about 30 minutes to get to D.C. If you want to drive less than 30 minutes, you won’t hit too much.
(2) College Park is pretty much just college kids. If you want to meet other kinds of people you can’t.
(3) It can be loud depending on where you live. If you live closer to Main Street it can get loud. It doesn’t bother me, but it is a con.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
One or two nights every weekend, and once during the week depending on the week. I’d average about 2-3 nights a week. We’d usually either have people over to our apartment or go to a friend’s apartment and then go to a bar in College Park or hop around if the first one wasn’t fun. Sometimes there would be house parties or we’d take the metro to D.C., so it varies.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
A lot of people just hang out. A lot of clubs hang out with each other at night. The school also sponsors some activities like movie screenings.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Maryland? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s okay, but there are not a lot of options. Options do exist, but they are all pretty similar. It would be cool if there was a music venue bar or a more upscale bar, they’re all sports bar like places. I think it’d be better if they just opened up a more artsy bar on the strip. I also think that it’s a shame that if you’re not 21 there’s very little do in College Park.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I have five really good friends at Maryland. One was my random roommate freshman year. Two of the lived across the hall from me freshman year. The other lived next door to me freshman year. The 5th one I met because one of the girls across the hall met her at an away weekend and brought her in. I mostly got really lucky to be on the end of the hall with cool people.
How would you describe the social scene?
I think that Maryland is so big I’d describe the social scene as a skyline. There are lots of groups and some are viewed as higher than others, but they really aren’t. For example, if you’re in one of the prettier sororities that might matter at a frat party, but if you’re waiting to get into a bar the girl in the sororities aren’t going to get in faster than you. There are so many groups at Maryland it’s hard to say that one is on top.
Do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Yes and no. I think that Greek life is very white overall, but there are professional frats, clubs, and teams that have more of a mix. There are a fair number of groups that are mixed but there are plenty of people that only hang with those that look like them.
Did not being in Greek Life have an impact on your social experience?
No, it was the best four years ever and I don’t think it would have been if I was in Greek Life. For me, that was not what I wanted because outside of Greek Life, there isn’t as much social segregation.
Do people seem happy with their choice of Maryland by senior year?
It’s a difficult thing to say. I know I was very happy and my friends were really happy with their decision. I think a lot of in-state people go into Maryland not super excited about it, but over the years people see how many student loans and debt their friends are racking up and how much nicer it is to not have to worry about that as much. People also realize that it is a very good school and that there are lots of resources because it’s such a big university that they grow to appreciate. There are obviously people that are ready to leave and are bored with the nightlife, but most of the people I talk to are happy to be there. [In Fall 2018, total costs for an in-state student was about $27,000.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Vigilante Coffee Shop was one of my favorite places to study. It’s about a mile drive but it’s a really nice escape from the College Park area. Maryland is just such a big campus that it would be difficult to not miss something. They’ll try to target the tour to your interests. If anybody is going on a tour at Maryland definitely check out Frat Row even if you don’t want to do Greek Life. It’s really pretty.
Reasons to attend Maryland:
1) The cost. There’s a lot of bang for your buck there. You aren’t going to be face deep in debt. [In Fall 2018, total costs for an in-state student was about $27,000.]
2) The school looks good on your resume. There are lots of people that graduated from there.
3) The size means you’ll never run out of opportunities. There are things to try, people to meet, you cannot possibly meet everybody. When you go to a small school you run through everybody, that will never happen at Maryland.
4) There’s a positive campus spirit. The professors I had were really, really good, and the people that work there are really friendly.
Reasons to not attend Maryland:
1) It’s a little remote. In terms of going out, there aren’t as many options as you would in a city area.
2) It gets really repetitive. When people get older they go to Washington D.C. to go out because people are so sick of College Park.
3) Parking is terrible.