University of Michigan
BackgroundInterview Date:November 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in inner-city Detroit that was pretty diverse. The graduating class was about 150 students.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Business – Ross School of Business. I’m also Pre-Law.
Minor: Looking into Community Action and Social Change but I’m not sure yet
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in PILOT, Michigan Community Scholars Program (MCSP), and I’m in an Albanian-American student organization.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
My learning community, PILOT, made a pretty big influence on my experience here. PILOT is similar to the city that I grew up in because it’s pretty diverse. Through PILOT I was able to connect with a lot of people from different backgrounds. MCSP I liked for similar reasons as PILOT, and because I was able to partake in social justice and community service, which I like.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
On a weekly basis, there are a lot of group work assignments which is difficult because you need to find times for everybody and you are in different groups in each class. There are about three problem set assignments due every week. Every now and then I’ll have a presentation, project, or exam.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
One thing they do poorly is they don’t focus too much on diversity and identity. [About 13% of the Class of 2022 at Ross are underrepresented minorities.] There is a big disparity with the students with lower socioeconomic status and high socioeconomic status. What they do well is I think is education in general. I feel that I’m learning tangible information that can be useful in the future. [Socioeconomically, 33% of students come from the top 5% and 3.6% of students come from the bottom 20%.]
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s both, but I think it’s more competitive. I think the collaboration is forced because we’re forced to be in group projects together. I don’t think it’s collaborative in the sense that people want to help each other with work, unless they are friends. It’s more so competitive overall.
What has been your favorite class for your major so far?
What has been your least favorite class for your major so far?
How accessible have your professors been?
It depends on the class. Some have been pretty good as far as if I reach out if office hours don’t work out we can meet. Others will have set dates and times and if you can’t make them they won’t be flexible.
How was transitioning to Ross academically as a first-generation student?
It was pretty difficult because I was in a new environment.
How effective were the systems in place to help you academically as a first-generation student?
They worked pretty well. I think there could be a bit more resources in terms of connecting other first-generation students with each other. Most of what I’ve seen so far has been through study tables and mentors.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I’m also Pre-Law, but there is no major at the university that is Pre-Law. I wanted something to fall back on if law school didn’t work out. I was pretty involved in DECA in high school, which is a business organization that I really liked. Coming to the university was different because Ross has a very competitive environment and is focused on how you perform relative to other students rather than your own learning experience. I guess I’m not necessarily happy with the choice, but it’s not what I plan to do career-wise so it will be okay.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman & Sophomore: West Quad with the MSCP Learning Community. I had one roommate each year.
How was transitioning from Detroit, MI to Ann Arbor, MI?
It was not very challenging because I live about an hour away. I think it’s a lot different than if I were to live in a different state because I am able to go home most weekends.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
As a woman, it’s difficult for me to navigate around at night. During the day I feel safe. It feels similar to my hometown in that if I go out past a certain time it can be an unsafe environment. [In Ann Arbor, there are 22.04 property crimes per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the national median of 24, and 2.4 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the national median of 4.]
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like to go to the movies or local restaurants. One in particular that I like to go to is Fleetwood Diner just because it’s really close to campus.
Pros and Cons of being in Ann Arbor, MI?
Pros: (1) The location is pretty nice. It’s a really nice college campus.
(2) It’s close to home.
(3) I really like the fall time weather.
Cons: (1) I don’t like the cold.
(2) I have a love/hate relationship with how close to home I am. I sometimes wish I were farther away from home so I could be more independent.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Michigan?
I’ll go to parties every now and then with my friends. I have a lot of friends involved in Greek life, so I’ll go to frat parties. If I don’t go out I’ll stay in my room and have Netflix marathons.
Can you describe a typical night going out your freshman year? How was it different from now that you are more established in the social scene?
I think freshman year it was difficult for me to find a solid friend group that I’d go to parties with. I think that you don’t really have a great experience out if you’re not with the right people. Now that I’ve found my group, it’s a lot easier to say, “Yes, I do want to go out this weekend,” rather than coming up with excuses because I wasn’t with the right people.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I think it’s good and bad. People do like going to frat parties and people like getting involved with social life. It also can be unsafe depending on where you go because some frats are known as [less safe for women]. [See Ann Arbor News October 2018 article about the state of fraternities.]
How happy were you with the nightlife options at Michigan?
I think I am pretty happy because I don’t go out that often and when I choose to go out there are a lot of options available to me. I think outside of Greek life there could be more options. For me personally, the social life is fine.
What have been some of your favorite times at Michigan?
Meeting my friends and exploring outside of what I experienced in high school. In high school, it was school and home and there was no in between. Here I’ve been able to be a lot more independent.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My roommates from last year and this year are my best friends. I met them through my MSCP Learning Community. They’ve both lived with me and lived down the hall. I’ve also made friends through PILOT.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think the social environment is different for me because at Ross it’s difficult to find people who you connect with purposefully. If you’re not in a group project with them they won’t take the time to interact with you [because of the competitive academic environment and the curved grading system]. There are lots of opportunities for people to meet people similar to them through student organizations and small discussions with people.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Most of the time I see people of the same race hanging out with each other. My friend group is pretty diverse and we like to talk about how we would be poster children for the university. We look like a friend group the university would purposefully put together and put on brochures so people can think the university is diverse. Most of what I’ve seen is pretty homogenous groups in terms of race or sexual orientation.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Michigan by the time they graduate? Do you think people leave loving Michigan?
Yes, I think they do even though a lot of people wouldn’t come back for graduate school because they want a change of scenery. Most people I talk to, even the ones who weren’t excited to come, leave with school spirit and are pretty happy with their choice.
How was transitioning to a school with almost 30,000 undergraduates?
Challenging, but at the same time kind of the same [as my high school] because of where I chose to live my freshman year. MCSP is pretty diverse and very similar to my hometown. That experience was more so because of my decision and choosing to be in that environment. If I came in blind and went to a different residence hall I may not say the same thing. The large university is challenging in terms of finding friends outside of your dorm. If you don’t know about other resources it can be more difficult.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
For Business, I took a class this semester that was very Excel based. I always wanted to learn Excel because I knew hit will be helpful in the future. I also learned how to use R and the rest of Microsoft Office.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Michigan before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how competitive the academic environment was and I wish I knew about the different student organizations that I would have joined during my freshman year.
What is something a prospective first-generation student should know that we haven’t touched on?
The classroom environment and how the bigger classrooms feel.
Reasons to attend Michigan:
1) Quality of education
2) Friend groups
3) The broad variety of majors to choose from
Reasons to not attend Michigan:
1) A large population of Caucasians. It’s a very White campus. [About 13% of the Class of 2022 at Ross are underrepresented minorities. About 65% of undergraduates are Caucasian].
2) The competitive academic atmosphere.