University of Maryland, College Park
BackgroundInterview Date:July 2017
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Extracurricular Activities: Startup Shell, I worked in Sandbox which is a maker space with fabrication tools like 3D printers.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It’s a lot of work. It’s like 3 hours of work per credit, so if you’re doing a 12 credit load you’re spending around 36 hours a week on school. In Mechanical Engineering, there are tons of problem sets, almost every class has readings or tutorial videos and then you have a problem set based off of that. Outside of that, there are projects you do.
Did you especially like or dislike anything about your major’s department? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
Maryland does a good job of providing you with lots of opportunities and resources. There are tutors for math classes, TA’s and Teaching Fellows, who are past students who did well in the class. If you need help, it’s there. Maryland has the same downsides as any research university where you have professors that are more so into their research than they are with teaching.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
They accommodate to almost every style of learning. If you’re a group learner, they set up groups for you, or if you want to work by yourself and learn from a textbook you can do that as well.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
Thermodynamics, or Circuits 2. I also really like ENES 100 which is the entry-level engineering class, that was a really fun class.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Statistics. The professor was lackluster and you have to rely on the TA’s and Teaching Fellows to learn the material.
Why did you pick your major?
I think I just have always liked making things, it’s definitely what I like doing. I’ve always wanted to do engineering so I can make more things that I couldn’t before.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Easton Hall. It’s a freshman dorm, I had one roommate.
Sophomore: Kent Hall in South Campus. I had 1 roommate, but the suite was shared by 6 people including myself.
Junior: I lived in an apartment in the Landmark with 3 roommates.
Senior: I lived in the Landmark with one roommate.
What was your favorite living situation?
I had the most fun in Easton Hall as a freshman.
How walkable is the area around campus?
Yeah, it’s very easy to get stuff. They also have a bus service, and then if you don’t like the buses you can call Nite Ride.
How safe do you feel on campus and in the surrounding areas?
I think it’s very safe.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Maybe my house? College Park is so big and I’m already living off campus so I never feel like I need to get away that much.
Pros and cons of being in College Park?
Pros: (1) Being close to D.C. and on the metro-line is fun. You can go in and see concerts which is great, and the occasional students from other schools will come to visit Maryland.
(2) There are people out doing things at any time because it’s so massive.
(3) College Park is fun because you’ll be walking to class and random stuff will be happening around you. One day it snowed and there was a school-wide snowball fight at McKeldin and there was somebody twirling fire just by himself [laughs].
Cons: The area around College Park is occasionally sketchy but I don’t think that the area of College Park is sketchy.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I don’t party as much as other people, but you can go whatever night you want at Maryland. If I do go out, I go to the bars. The ones I really like going to are Terrapin Turf and Bentley’s. There’s a new place called MilkBoy Arthouse that’s opening up that I think will be really cool. No guys outside of frats go to frat parties, but there are apartment and dorm parties around. Almost every club has their own parties, like the skiing club will have parties or they’ll go and rent out a bar for a few hours.
Can you describe a typical night out?
I’ll have some people over to my apartment, then we’ll go to bars or a party, and then after we’ll go to other random things around the area or go back to an apartment. You can’t typify a night in College Park because there isn’t a set of things that everybody does. Even a singular person won’t do the same thing every day or night.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Maryland? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It could definitely be improved on, but that’s not the focus of Maryland. It’s really fun, I’ve never had trouble finding a fun place to go.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met a lot of my closest friends through my freshman living & learning community, which is something I really recommend freshmen doing. Mine was for engineers, and it had 30 boys and 30 girls all on the same two floors of Easton Hall. We did all of our homework together and got to know each other really well because we all had the same interests. Everybody was super interesting and outgoing and it was cool to meet them through that living space.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s sometimes a bit cliquey because it’s so big. There are some any groups because there are so many people so a lot of the people you see won’t know each other walking around campus. People generally gravitate towards certain groups and stay in them. Most people don’t know the majority of people in their classes.
Do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Yeah, I think the only big segregation is between the Asian international students and everyone else, but that’s mostly because of a language barrier. Really anyone who comes from an international country is going to want to hang out with international students. There is a good mix of sexual orientations, Maryland is very accepting of LGBTQ students.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No. At the end of the day, you’re just meeting somebody with one small thing in common with them. If you’re part of a frat they’ll have a closer connection with you, but for regular students, the alumni connection doesn’t have much weight.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Maryland before entering as a freshman?
There isn’t anything I wish I knew beforehand, but there are some things I’m very glad I did. I did a study abroad trip with incoming freshmen for three weeks before freshman year. We all bonded a ton over that little class and it was super fun. We all had a great time and I still know a lot of those kids today. I’m happy I did a living & learning community. It helped me develop friendships with people in the same classes and the same interests. I also am happy I got AP credits because it lightens your course load.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
It depends on what you’re interested in. If you’re a potential entrepreneur check out the Startup Shell. If you’re into yoga, check out the many yoga studios around campus. There’s a bunch of stuff so it really depends.
Reasons to attend Maryland:
1) If there’s a program that you want to do, like engineering, and you’re from Maryland, attend Maryland. You should go to Maryland over other universities because it’s so cheap and it’s a great school. If you’re into engineering you can get a really cheap education, I’m also coming out with no debt. [For 2018-2019, the tuition for in-state students was $8,651 per semester.]
2) If you’re really into partying that’s a good reason to come.
3) I think Maryland and any state university is great if you want to do many things and have a ton of resources. We have all sorts of stuff, like a small nuclear powerplant, and tons of clubs and groups.
Reasons to not attend Maryland:
1) If you were scared of a lot of people, or if you want an intimate college campus, don’t come. I also think that if you want that you should reach out and go to a bigger school because the amount of room College Park gives you allows you to grow.
2) If you expect a high standard of living, don’t come. There are some run-down dorms and buildings.