University of Maryland, College Park
BackgroundInterview Date:June 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020, Transferred in the second semester of freshman year
First Generation College Student: No
High School Experience: Private all-boys Catholic school in Baltimore with about 300 students in the graduating class.
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a fraternity, Young Democrats, and I work for the Terrapin Record Label.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have an especially big impact on your experience?
I’d say Greek life has had the biggest impact.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It’s usually all tests. The coursework varies from professor to professor. Like, one of my classes this past semester had problem sets that you’d hand in and were 20% of your grade, while another just had the tests make up your grade.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
For things they do well, I’d say they have a lot of professors that really care about their students. For poorly, I’d say the faculty is pretty dichotomous in the sense that half are some of the best teachers you’ll ever have and half are the worst teachers you’ll ever have.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
English itself is definitely more collaborative but the university, in general, is very competitive. There aren’t that many kids in the English program or in humanities in general and I feel like it’s a lower pressure environment because it’s not everybody fighting for the same spot. [About 7% of undergraduates are in the College of Arts & Humanities]
What has been your favorite class in your major?
Recovering Oral History
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Shakespeare and His Contemporaries
Why did you choose English? Are you happy with your choice?
I transferred from a business program, so I assumed when I got to Maryland I was going to do business, but I didn’t like the kids in the program. I just looked around the environment, and I was like, “Wow, these guys don’t seem that nice.” I then realized I wanted to go to law school, so I was like I could either do Political Science or English. I started taking Political Science classes and didn’t really like them, and I took a couple of English classes and I really liked them.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Started in the spring semester, I lived in Calvert Hall which is on South Hill
Sophomore: Fall: Leonardtown Community with three roommates, Spring: Fraternity House
Junior: Fall: Fraternity House, in the fraternity house you live with 29 other people but then you only have one roommate
What was your favorite living situation?
My favorite was probably living in Leonardtown
Can you describe the level of safety you experienced on and around campus?
It’s pretty good. I never really feel unsafe. Off-campus it’s kind of the same thing, but it might be a little different for other people because I’m a 6’3” guy.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
National Gallery of Art
Pros and Cons of being in College Park, MD?
Pros: (1) It’s close to D.C.
(2) You’re like 15-20 minutes away from DC, an hour from Baltimore, and 2 hours from Philly and 3 and a half hours from New York.
(3) I think College Park is big enough that there’s a ton of stuff and it feels like you’re living in your own little city.
Cons: (1) The area directly surrounding College Park is pretty terrible. Prince George’s county is not very nice.
(2) There are pretty frequent robberies in Old Town College Park, which is not great.
(3) The living costs have just skyrocketed because it’s tied to the university and it’s a border of D.C.
How was blending into the social environment as a transfer?
There’s no real cohesive environment at Maryland. I wouldn’t say it’s individualistic, but I’d say it’s very different. There are just so many different groups of people at all points in time, I wouldn’t say there’s one environment. You just have to find where you flow the best, and I did eventually so I didn’t think it was too difficult. At first, I definitely felt like it was a little difficult trying to find the people that I wanted to hang out with.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I’m from Baltimore, so a ton of my friends already went to UMD. But after I joined my fraternity that’s where all my friends are.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Maryland?
I have a different opinion on it just because of the person I am, but sometimes it seems a little sad. If you want to go out every single night, I’m there for you, but I also think it can be over encompassing at times. Some kids really, really don’t know how to manage their time once they get to college and assume they can go out all the time because everybody else is. I honestly think [how close the bars are to campus] and the way some of the fraternities work can hurt some of the students’ intellectual abilities.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I mean I don’t have any bias and I hang out with whoever, so I’d say my friend group is pretty diverse. But, as a whole, I would say not very much.
What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
It depends on who you are. If you’re in Greek life, you can either have that be something that’s just a positive outlet for you or it could take over your life.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t really reached out that much honestly. My mom’s a judge, so it’s been pretty easy for me to find internships in law. But I’ll find myself talking to people, like literally yesterday I talked to a judge in Baltimore County and he was like, “Where do you go?” and I said, “University of Maryland,” and he was like, “Oh, that’s where I went.”
Have you used the career office much?
No, I haven’t. That’s because I’m probably going to law school so there hasn’t been too much pressure to go get help because I have a sense for what I’m doing and have some connections already. I would go if I need it, but I don’t really need it right now.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I think they should take the initiative to look into the professors and their department of interest. Try to schedule a meeting with them because I feel like most kids get their information from looking up rankings. You’re not going to really know what you’re learning unless you talk to a professor one on one.
Is there anything that we haven’t touched on that a transfer student should know?
Especially if you’re transferring after one semester or one year, they’re probably not going to house you with people your age. I got kind of screwed. I didn’t plan on joining Greek life, but when I transferred they put me in Calvert Hall, which is all seniors and juniors who already had friends, so I didn’t really get to interact with anybody until I joined a fraternity. I would just be wary of that because they might put you in a bad place to live.
Reasons to attend Maryland:
1) If you’re in-state, it makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of people have a negative view of it because it’s in-state, but it’s cheap and it’s a really good education.
2) The proximity to Washington, D.C. is really incredible. I know so many people that have been able to get internships on Capitol Hill and still take classes. They’d go to Capitol Hill in the morning and come back for their night classes and everything would be fine.
3) I’ve noticed that there has been a flourishing of the arts and music community around Maryland. There are a lot of places that are starting to hold bigger concerts in College Park and a lot of people are renting houses and holding shows more often. That just adds something else to do if you don’t feel comfortable going to the bars or going to a frat party.
Reasons to not attend Maryland:
1) If you’re somebody with low self-control, the party scene can probably take over your life. I’ve seen it happen with several people I knew in high school that were pretty chill, but then got to college and just went crazy and failed all of their classes.