University of Maryland, College Park
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
The classes aren’t too bad, but as a bioengineer, you can’t skip class. You have to go to each class because if you miss a class you miss a lot. You have a decent amount of homework, like problem sets and lab groups. In the beginning, you’ll have one lab course per semester, so you go once a week. As you get to junior year, it’s not as many labs, but you do have to meet with groups to do projects.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
One thing they do well is that they have clear tracks that they’ve laid out depending on what you want to get in to. Online, they have the exact classes I need to take and when I need to take them. For people that want to go in other directions, they have a clear framework. The advising is bioengineering is also pretty good. They make you take a class freshman or sophomore year that’s about networking and figuring out what career you want to go in to.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
I would say it’s pretty competitive because in a lot of bioengineering classes you’re graded on a curve, so your grade will depend on how you do compared to other students and the classes are very difficult. I will say there is a lot of collaboration on group projects or working on the homework together because they’re so difficult.
Why did you choose your major?
Coming out of high school, I’d always been pretty good at math and physics, but I liked the more science-y side of things. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I thought Bioengineering would give me the most options after college.
Are you happy with your major choice?
Yeah, I’m pretty happy. When I decided I might want to go to the pre-health direction, I was hesitant to stay as a Bioengineering major because there are easier majors to do and still go on to Medical School.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Centreville Hall with 1 roommate
Sophomore & Junior: I lived in my frat house on fraternity row. Sophomore year I had a double and junior year I had a single.
Senior: Off-campus house. I have a single room and am living with 6 other people.
What was your favorite living situation?
The house I’m living with this year will be my favorite just because I’m living with 6 of my best and it’s off-campus, so we don’t have all the rules that are on campus. We can cook for ourselves and be more independent. I’m getting ready to get off campus, but my housing has gotten better each year. Living in a house on frat row is like living in a mansion with all your best friends.
Can you describe the level of safety you experienced on and around campus?
On campus I never felt unsafe. The campus is well lit at night. Walking back from the library and stuff I never felt unsafe. They have the blue light system, but I’ve never heard of or seen people use those. I haven’t lived off campus for that long, but I haven’t felt unsafe yet. The area of College Park is predominantly college students, so we do lock our door at night and stuff, but I feel pretty safe.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I go to Chipotle the most, but College Park is getting better and better food.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I go into DC occasionally if I want to go somewhere. It’s the closest and most accessible city. I’ve gone hiking in the areas around College Park, like Great Falls Park.
Pros and Cons of being in College Park, MD?
Pros: (1) We have DC 20 minutes away and Baltimore is like 40 minutes away, so we have access to both of those cities.
(2) It’s an up and coming campus and college area. They’re working to improve things both restaurant wise and on campus.
(3) We have a metro stop right off campus so if you don’t have a car you have a way to get to Baltimore and DC.
Cons: (1) If you go 2 or 3 miles off campus it’s not the nicest area in Maryland. I remember realizing the first time I was coming here I was driving before you get close to campus, it doesn’t look the nicest.
(2) It’s not the safest college town. You get emails and alerts about robberies. It’s not the safest area, but I’ve never felt unsafe. [In College Park, there are about 129 crimes per square mile, about double the Maryland median of 57.]
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I will go to the three main bars that everyone goes to, Bentley’s, Cornerstone, and Terrapin Turf. Depending on how busy I am during the week, each bar has something going on every day except for Monday. Happy hour is a pretty big thing at Maryland. Thursday and Saturday nights there are usually fraternity events like socials with sororities. A lot of Greek life doesn’t go to the bar those nights. If I’m not too busy, I’ll go to the bar on Wednesday and Friday. If you’re not in a frat, it’s more of a bar school even though we don’t have many bars.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
You’ll figure out what your friends are doing around dinner time. You meet in a dorm and then take a bus to College Ave. and you’ll get a wristband to what bar you’re going to. Then you’ll take the bus back to North Campus and go to dorm rooms and hang out before going back out.
What have been your favorite days and nights at UMD?
My favorite days are tailgates in the fall. I love tailgate season. It’s so much fun to wake up early and go to a giant tailgate. The atmosphere on tailgate days is so fun. The football team isn’t the best, but those are some of my favorite at college. I can’t think of a specific night that stands out. There are a lot of fun nights, someone who comes here will have a lot of fun nights.
Do freshman boys have trouble getting into parties?
Yes. But during rush, no, because that’s the whole point of rush for fraternities to meet new guys, but throughout the rest of the year, it’s difficult to get in.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I would say joining Greek life gives you more options in nightlife because anyone can go to the bar whenever they want, but just being in a frat gives you that other option to go to socials or go to parties. Clubs and organizations have parties and people who live in Old Town [College Park] have parties too.
I think nightlife is more accessible if you do join a Greek organization. I’ve been to the bars on a Thursday night and I normally know a decent amount of people there, but I went on a Thursday and didn’t know anybody because Greek life isn’t at the bar. They’re having parties and socials. At tailgates, there is a giant IFCPHA tailgate [see Diamondback article on IFC Tailgate], which is a giant tailgate for all the sororities and fraternities. If you’re in one, you get a wristband so you can get in. You can give away some wristbands to friends, but for the most part, it’s fraternities and sororities.
How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it. If I could change anything, I would change that we only have three bars that people go to. They can get really crowded, so if there was one or two more that would even it out. The prices of the bars are pretty nice, there are deals all the time, so that’s nice for a college town.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My closest friends I’m living with now, and they are in my fraternity. I met them through my frat, but one of them lived on the same floor as me my freshman year and another was in my College Park Scholars Program, so I knew them before we were in the same frat.
How would you describe the overall social scene at UMD?
There are definitely some schools that have a better social scene, like giant parties and a bunch of bars and things like that, but I’ve been happy with the social scene we have here. Having joined Greek life, I’ve had easy access to parties and things besides the bars. I’ve been happy with the social scene at Maryland, it’s not a giant party school but still a lot of fun.
What is the impact of Greek life on the social scene?
Greek life gives you easier access to the social scene, but I also feel like it’s separate from the rest of the campus’ social scene. Like, on Wednesday night there is [a popular drink deal] and a lot of non-Greek people go there, but people in Greek life don’t go there because it’s too crowded, so we started going to a different bar. It’s separated from the rest of campus. My friends that aren’t in Greek life go to bars on Thursday, but Greek life people have their own separate events that aren’t open to all of campus. If you’re not in Greek life, it will seem like a bar school because that’s the easiest thing to do at night. There are also people that have parties in their apartment or houses. If you’re in Greek life it’s more of a diverse nightlife and social scene.
Do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I haven’t seen that being a problem. I think we do have a pretty diverse school coming from my high school because my high school wasn’t the most diverse. I think people of different races and sexual orientations get along here. And if people have their own opinions, they will keep them to themselves and not act on them.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Personally, no, but I know other people it has helped. In Bioengineering it is especially helpful in my class that freshmen and sophomores take about their career. They bring in alumni one a week or once every two weeks who went through the bioengineering program to talk about their company and their career path. The alumni are also helpful in finding different things. A lot of alums stay in the area with DC and Baltimore being so close so we have easier access to them.
Have you used the career office much?
I went there only a few times to get a resume looked at. They were helpful in pointing out things to fix. The website is helpful for finding internships, fellowships, and stuff. I worked with the website a lot, it’s pretty helpful.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Maryland before entering as a freshman?
One thing I heard coming in is that of people go to DC a lot, but that’s not true. People generally stay on campus. One thing I wish someone told me is to find a few things you’re passionate about and really pursue them. I’ve met some of my best friends through my frat and clubs on campus. If I chose many things or no things, I wouldn’t have had the same experience.
What is something that a student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Our tour guides do a good job of showing the campus, but one thing I would tell people to check out the surrounding area. I’ve gotten the chance to do that and it’s gotten nicer. If someone is coming here and expecting a college town they will be disappointed. It’s more of a strip on one road. If they want the whole experience of being at Maryland, check out the immediate surrounding areas to see what restaurants are around, the apartment buildings, fraternity row, and check out Route 1 where there are a lot of food options.
Reasons to attend Maryland:
1) For a public university, Maryland is academically pretty strong. You’ll get a good education.
2) More and more companies are viewing Maryland as a company they want to hire from.
3) Students at Maryland have a good work hard, play hard mentality. They’re not just studying, and they’re not just partying and never going to class.
4) I came from a high school with a lot of school spirit, and I feel the same way here. There’s lots of school spirit. The basketball games and sports games are a lot of fun and free for students.
5) There are lots of different opportunities. It is one giant campus with tons of students, and because it is so big there is an opportunity for everyone to find where they fit in and find something they’re passionate about.
Reasons to not attend Maryland:
1) It’s not the safest college town or the nicest. That’s the biggest con I can think of.
2) It’s a very large campus, and some people don’t want a campus that big or aren’t comfortable with that. It’s big in terms of the number of people, and also the physical size of the campus.
3) There’s lots of construction. It seems like there are always cranes on campus.
I’ve had a good time here, we’re pretty well rounded as a school.