University of Michigan
BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of 89 students. There was definitely a culture of going to college
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience
Minor: I’m not sure yet.
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of the Neuroprosthetics Club at Michigan, which finds people in the area who need prosthetic arms and makes them for them.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
My courses up until this point haven’t been as focused on my major yet. The ones so far have been pretty standard in their coursework. The one class I had in my major this past semester was a psychology class. Your grade was mainly determined on five pop quizzes that were given throughout the semester, so you had to show up to class every day having done the reading and knowing the past content because everything was fair game. There were also a lot of other smaller assignments that you would complete during discussions and outside of class that would help boost your grade.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think that the learning environment at Michigan is kind of unique. With it being such a large school, you’re more focused on your own personal academic success. There is a bit of a competitive edge given that it’s a pretty competitive school. It doesn’t feel like you’re competing directly with others. It’s more that you’re competing for your own GPA and your own personal gain.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Alice Lloyd Hall with one roommate. I was part of the learning community, the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, which is for writing and the arts. Half the building were people in my program and the other half were normal people who got that housing. Alice Lloyd is one of the best freshmen living situations you can have. It’s a pretty quiet and relaxed dorm. It’s a lot less rowdy there and there are a lot of great people in there from the learning community.
Sophomore: Off-campus in an apartment and I have three other roommates.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Michigan is outrageously well endowed with amazing places to eat. Probably Aventura, which is a really great tapas place in downtown Ann Arbor. It’s pricey but phenomenal.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Michigan campus is so big and it’s usually a pretty good time, so you never really want to get away. If you do, the [Nichols] Arboretum is a woodsy area with a lake and it’s really beautiful. It’s a great place to chill out and walk around.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I think that’s different for a lot of people. Growing up in Baltimore, I’ve felt very safe there. Walking at night I never feel frightened. Normally I have somebody walk with me, but there has never been a time that I felt in danger. Downtown Ann Arbor is a little bit more dicey than the actual campus is. You just need to watch who’s around you take the normal safety precautions you would. [There are about 22 property crimes per 1,000 residents in Ann Arbor, which is lower than the national median of 24.]
Pros and cons of being located in Ann Arbor, Michigan?
1) The spirit of people who go to the University of Michigan. Everybody who goes there loves it. Every tailgate, every football game, and every basketball game is a huge deal and there’s a huge sense of community. That’s my favorite thing about being there.
2) There are amazing places to go out to eat. You’ll never go out to eat and be disappointed. Every restaurant is great. Food-wise you’re good to go.
3) There’s always stuff going on.
Cons: It’s cold. It’s cold as hell. It’s really cold. If you don’t deal with the cold well and you aren’t mentally prepared for how cold you’re going to be and for how long you’re going to be cold it’s going to be really tough.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Normally I just go to frats. I’m not part of Greek life, so I just go to whatever frats are hosting open parties, or if I get invited to something I’ll go to that. It’s kind of a bummer for boys who aren’t part of Greek life because they can’t be a part of that. There are a lot of other options, like there is a bar scene that I don’t participate in as much.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
I would probably do work until like 8 or 9 and then get ready and go hang out with some friends. We’d hang out in someone’s dorm or someone’s apartment and then head out to a frat nearby. Maybe after being there for a bit, we’d go to another frat that was having a party. We’d hop around to thing to thing. Then I’d venture back to my dorm.
What have been some of your favorite times at Michigan?
There’s this thing called Winterfest, which is a huge broomball tournament with all the sororities and fraternities. They have this tournament in front of everyone and it’s super inclusive, whether you’re in Greek life or not you can go. It’s fun to watch and hang out with everyone who’s there. All tailgates are super-duper fun. People get really excited for those and go all out. St. Patrick’s Day is also a really great day.
What are some alternatives to going to a party or a bar that you like?
If you’re not into going out there’s always something to do on campus, whether it’s going to see friends in an acapella group performing or improv groups, there’s never a dull night. There was never a time when I didn’t feel like there was someone to hang out with or would go explore or go to a co-op or a house party. There’s a lot of stuff to do.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
For girls, it’s a lot easier to not be involved in Greek life and still have a really robust social life on the weekends. You’re always welcome at a frat no matter what and you don’t have to prove yourself in any way. I think for guys it’s more difficult in that if you’re not in a frat you have a harder time navigating that social scene because, normally, if you’re not involved in a certain frat you’re not allowed in their party, so that’s difficult. If you’re not part of a fraternity, you can find alternatives like co-ops.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Michigan? Is there anything you would change if you could?
There isn’t really anything I would change. At times it can be repetitive if you don’t do new things and open yourself up to new experiences. If you do the same thing every weekend you sometimes feel stuck. The only thing that was a bummer for me was if you want to hang out with your guy friends who are in a certain fraternity, you have to be with their fraternity. Or, if they’re not in a fraternity, you can’t be with them at a fraternity. That’s different sometimes for tailgates, they can come in and out a lot more easily.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I was lucky enough to meet my closest friend on the first day of school. I moved in and went upstairs looking for someone to talk to and she was the first person I talked to. A lot of my other close friends I made were people in my building who I met through circumstances of hanging out and the normal meshing of people.
I met a lot of my friends through the learning community I was in because we had classes together. I felt that was a really good way to get to know people, especially coming from such a small school. It’s really overwhelming to go into a c class of over 6,000 people from a class of 89. Being a part of a smaller community within a larger school and going to class with the same people every day made it easier to get to know people and feel like you were part of a tighter knit community.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
Particularly with the African-American community at Michigan, it’s really small. [The Black community makes up 5% of undergraduates, while the White community makes up 65%.] It’s something that I noticed very quickly when I was there. There’s not an even mix of people racially. There are racial issues that people protested on campus. I think the African-American community is poorly represented because it’s such a small portion of the school.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s great. It’s really fun. You can be a part of Greek life or not be a part of Greek life and still have a really great time. Tailgates and other sporting events are such a big deal at Michigan and it’s so much fun to be a part of something that encompasses everyone at the school.
How would you describe the student body?
There is a large Jewish population. [About 17% of undergraduates are Jewish.] I’m the only one of my friend group who is not Jewish. People from out of state are generally pretty wealthy, which is kind of intimidating in some circumstances. [33% of students at Michigan come from the top 5%.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Michigan before you entered as a freshman?
School is going to be hard. It’s a ton of fun. Work hard play hard is the most accurate description of life on campus. People spend all of their time studying and when they’re not studying they’re hanging out with friends and doing things that are social and fun.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The social life, like a football game is an unreal thing. Your first Michigan football game is life-changing, that sounds so corny but it’s so true. You understand what all the hype is about. It’s crazy to see all these people so excited about the same thing.
Reasons to attend Michigan:
1) The opportunities. There are so many extracurriculars to get involved and you are just inundated with so many different things.
2) There are so many great professors.
3) There is a great social scene.
4) You meet a lot of genuine people there.
Reasons to not attend Michigan:
1) If you’re somebody who is very affected by the weather.
2) If you’re not comfortable in the big school environment.