University of Maryland, College Park
BackgroundInterview Date:July 2017
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2017. I did Freshman Connection, which is a program where they accept students for the Spring semester, and you can take classes in the fall in the afternoon and night, but can’t live on campus. It helps get more kids in that wouldn’t have gotten in in the initial acceptance group.
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college.
Major: Biochemistry – I started out wanting to do chemical engineering, but I didn’t get into the engineering school because I didn’t meet a requirement so I did biochemistry.
Extracurricular Activities: I was in a fraternity.
What was doing Freshman Connection like?
It was a weird transition because freshman connection classes interfered with meetings. I had to wait until the spring semester to do extracurriculars. A big part of the Freshman Connection program is that the classes are in the afternoons and night so you can’t do any clubs.
What impact did Greek Life have on your experience?
I was in a colony frat, so we didn’t have a chapter house, we tried to get one but we didn’t. This year I lived with guys in the frat in a satellite house off campus. We had chapter meetings, did community social work, had to keep your GPA up, participated in Greek Week and homecoming, so we had all the same qualities of a fraternity. The only thing we missed out on was a house on Frat Row, so we weren’t a full, 100% fraternity.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It as a hefty amount of coursework. For Chemistry classes, you have to study the stuff you learn after every class so you’re ready for the 3-4 exams you have because they’re so massive. For Biology, you have mostly have problem sets for homework and have online quizzes. Chemistry classes don’t have problem sets.
Did you especially like or dislike anything about your major’s department? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
Biochemistry had a one-credit seminar that meets once a week and tells you all the career opportunities that come with a biochemistry degree. They have a bunch of past graduates come in and tell you their career paths.
A downside is that when you’re undecided your advisers don’t reach out to you, you have to find them. They won’t go out of their way to help you out, you have to chase them down. I spoke to my first-year adviser once just for her to approve me to pick classes the next semester. Once you get your major adviser it’s better.
What was your favorite class in your major?
General Chemistry 2 – you take it after Organic Chemistry. It’s a nice way to ease back on all the intense stuff. You have all the chemistry you’ve learned up to this makes sense and learn how it applies to the real world.
What was your least favorite class in your major?
The upper-level Biology electives are a pain because they’re meant to be pre-med courses and I’m not pre-med. I guess Principles of Immunology, it’s a really specific biology class and I’m more on the chemistry side of biochemistry.
What was a fun class you took outside of your major?
An entrepreneurship class online, it was super easy. There are a couple of lectures you’re supposed to watch per week that you don’t have to, a four-question quiz assignment once a week but you can find the answers to it online, and then a reading once a week. It gives you the tools and knowledge if you have an idea you want to turn into a business.
Why did you pick your major?
I wanted to be a chemical engineer but didn’t get into the engineering school because I didn’t have some of the requirements. I did Biochemistry because it’s still applicable to the same stuff. Now I will go to graduate school for chemical engineering because biochemistry met the same requirements. You can only apply to a school within Maryland once, and if you get rejected you can’t reapply.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman – Junior: I lived in the Varsity Apartments with 2 other roommates. One was consistent and the other changed each year.
Senior: I lived in an off-campus house with 5 other people.
What was your favorite living situation?
The house was my favorite. It’s a lot nicer because it’s cheaper, you have more privacy, and it’s more spacious. What really makes it or breaks it are the people you’re living with. I loved my roommates so I had a great time, but if you don’t like your roommates you may have the opposite experience.
Is there a safe ride at Maryland?
There’s a Safe Ride called Nite Ride. I’ve used it once or twice. There’s also paratransit if you’re injured.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Mission BBQ, but that’s about 2 miles away. Qdoba and Chipotle are go-to’s. There are a lot of pizza places in College Park. I also like Marathon Deli.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Washington D.C., you can easily hop on the metro and be in DuPont Circle.
Pros and cons of being in College Park, MD?
Pros: (1) Washington, D.C. is right there.
(2) It’s close to home.
(3) There are a bunch of colleges around. People come from UMBC, Towson, and George Washington University, which makes nightlife more interesting.
Cons: It’s close to Prince George’s county which has lots of crime. We get UMD alerts about off-campus robberies a lot. If you’re close to campus you’re fine, but if you start venturing out it’s not completely safe. That’s the biggest, if not only con.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife did you like to participate in?
I would definitely go out Friday and Saturday. Freshman and sophomore year when I had less work and when the frat was going I went out Tuesday and Thursday too, so at most Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday would be social nights with the frat, then Friday would be a night at the bar. You could also go to the bars on Sunday and Wednesday if you wanted, but I didn’t that much. You can go to the bars any night of the week really.
Can you describe a typical night out?
I’d take a shower around 9:30 and then hang out with friends until around 10:30, walk to wherever the fraternity social is, be at the social from 11-12, then the postgame opens up and anybody can come. Sometimes people go to the bars afterward. The night ends around 12:30-1, and you’ll probably grab some pizza or hit Subway. There are a lot of pizza places around.
What are your favorite days or nights at Maryland?
When someone I know throws a party and then I know most of the people there. The frat scene can get rowdy at times. I think it’s more fun when you have some friends over and party and then it becomes a bigger party, rather than a typical frat social.
What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
You can always go to DC. The metro stop is very close to campus. In the Student Union there is a bowling alley, and lots of Xboxes, etc. set up. In general, when you’re a freshman you can chill in your dorm. Dorms usually surround an area with a basketball hoop or volleyball net. There are a lot of concerts and stuff on campus. The student center has free movies every Friday. Unfortunately, Prince George’s county doesn’t have a lot to offer outside of the Maryland campus.
How exclusive are the fraternities?
They are not exclusive during rush time. During rush, everybody’s allowed in. All it really takes is for you to make friends within the frats, or you can try to join the frats, or if you have a friend that’s going to be in the frat and you can say you’re going to join the next semester. It gets more exclusive after the first month to month and a half of the fall and spring semester. Freshman year, not a lot of people in Freshman Connection were 21 so we’d just hang out in the apartments and have apartment parties. You can definitely find a way around it for sure.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I pretty happy with it, but there are some things that could be improved. Sometimes the distance between parties can be annoying. Overall, I’ve had some really good nights in College Park. If you’re going with the flow and having fun, you’ll have a great time. Sometimes you’ll run into people in the streets going to the same place, or if you’re just with your friends you’ll have a great time. People come to College Park from other schools in Maryland to party, which I think shows how much fun it is. There are also people that think Maryland’s scene is immature and they go to D.C.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Random roommates and then class. We’d be working on a project and then go to the bars together.
Do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Yeah, I’d say so. Maryland’s pretty inclusive in that regard.
What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
Greek life can be a clique at times. I remember times when I’d be hanging out at the fraternity and I’d think that I couldn’t involve my friends that weren’t in the frat. There’s the Greek Life clique and then everybody else. I don’t think the people in Greek life are socially above anybody else, except at their socials, then after that everybody is equal. Like at the bar it doesn’t matter if you’re Greek. [About 17% of undergraduates are involved in Greek life.]
Do people seem happy with Maryland by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Maryland?
Yes. Most people I know that don’t like Maryland don’t like it because they think it’s immature, so they go to D.C. Most people I talk to have had a good experience.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes, the internship I had last summer. I forgot I put my resume on the Maryland career website and a company contacted me through it. There’s a career fair every semester that lasts three days that’s also helpful.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew before entering as a freshman?
Apply to the colleges [within Maryland] when you first try to get in. Apply both undecided and the college you want to get into. When you do that initially it doesn’t count as your one application to the school. So, if you don’t get in initially you can still apply to that college again. Also, look up your teacher’s name before you take a class. Maryland has a website where you can see the grade distribution of professors. There’s Koofers.com, which has a Maryland sponsored page, and Ratemyprofessor.com.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go to the Student Union and see what it all has to offer. There’s a lot in there like an art gallery that’s worth checking out. It’s the main place where you’re going to go to have your alternative to going out nights. If I knew about the resources there earlier on I would be more likely to go.
Reasons to attend Maryland:
1) The social scene and academics are a good mix.
2) There are lots of opportunities around Maryland to get internships and jobs, and just to meet people and make connections. I didn’t think I’d make as many great connections as I have at Maryland, like I’ve been offered jobs through people from my frat.
3) It’s not so competitive that you can still get into club sports and clubs. There’s never a dull moment around campus unless you’re doing it to yourself.
Reasons to not attend Maryland:
1) The crime around the fringe areas of campus. If you’re scared of things like that I wouldn’t come.
2) It’s not easy academically depending on the major you’re doing.
3) The parking on campus is a pain in the ass, but that’s not really a reason to not go. It’s more of a nuisance.
4) You have to be in Greek Life to go out a lot. Greek Life dominates.