BackgroundInterview Date:May 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2017
First Generation College Student: No
High School Experience: Private all-boys school in Baltimore, MD in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 90 students.
Major: Political Science
Extracurricular Activities: I was a student-athlete and part of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It depends on the class. In your average class, you’d have a significant amount of readings, maybe 100 pages per class meeting. Some met twice a week and had a discussion class on Friday, and others just had two lectures. Senior seminars sometimes would have longer meeting times. The big assignments were papers and exams.
Did you especially like or dislike anything about your major’s department? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
I think the professors are pretty good. They surprisingly aren’t overly liberal and they are, for the most part, pretty reasonable people. There are some professors that give significantly harder workloads so you have to know which ones they are but a lot of people still take those classes anyway.
Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Middlebury is fairly liberal and the most active voices are far left students. There are also conservative students on campus, but they have been pushed to the margins and frequently labeled as intolerant. This isn’t unique to Middlebury, but rather a reflection of the current political atmosphere in higher education.
How was balancing your sport and coursework?
It’s doable. There’s definitely a big-time commitment to a sport. But at Middlebury a large percentage of the student population plays a sport, so you can do it. It doesn’t mean that you’re sacrificing good grades necessarily, there are a lot of people that do both. [About 27% of students are athletes.]
What was your favorite class in your major?
Might and Right of Nations. It’s a political theory class. The main reason that was my favorite class was that I really liked the professor.
What was your least favorite class in your major?
Intro to American Politics. Mainly because the workload for that semester for that class, given my other classes and my sports commitment, was ridiculous. That class is notorious for having way too much work. It’s not that he’s a bad professor or that it’s completely unmanageable, but you have to intentionally choose other classes to make time for that class with that professor.
What was a fun class you took outside of your major?
We have J Term in the middle of the two semesters where you can take whatever class you want. I took Coastal Processes. It was really easy and we got to go on field trips to places like Lake Champlain.
Why did you pick your major?
I’m a history and English person, so with Political Science you get practical knowledge about politics but you can dive into some philosophy and think about what people value like justice and democracy. I came in not knowing what I wanted to major in, I still don’t know what I want to do. I just thought it was interesting and didn’t think it was perceived as a joke major.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Battell with one roommate.
Sophomore: Single in Gifford.
Junior: Double in Hadley.
Senior: 5-person suite in Atwater, I had my own bedroom.
What was your favorite living situation?
Atwater was my favorite because of the space. However, the burden of having social events is on you and most people think that even if you don’t know them they can just walk in your suite which can be frustrating. The suite also gets trashed.
Is there a safe ride on campus?
Yeah, Midd Rides. They go to select locations in town and places on campus, but not to off-campus houses.
How walkable is the area around campus?
You can walk to get groceries; however, most people drive to those places if they have a car. The dining halls are pretty good overall and you can go in and out of them as much as you want so there’s not a major need to get groceries.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
There are a few good restaurants in town, some are pretty quality. My favorite is Touretelle, a French restaurant about a 15-minute drive away.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Middlebury is a bubble. A lot of your life will be contained in the campus which can be frustrating. I like to go skiing, go to Burlington, or there are some swimming holes that you can go to when it’s nice, but the weather often isn’t nice enough for those places. Lake Dunmore is also popular.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife did you participate in?
People go out Thursday through Saturday night, and sometimes Sunday night. Thursday night for upperclassmen is a bar night, but there is really only one bar in the town of Middlebury. It’s fun but very repetitive and small. Middlebury’s not a place for good bar life. Friday and Saturday there are sometimes some off-campus housing parties, but those are hard to get to because you can’t walk to them. The school is trying to funnel people on campus but there aren’t a lot of people that have the spaces to host things on campus. Now there are parties in a dorm called Atwater that has big suites. Sports teams that have members in those suites have the burden of throwing parties and the space in those suites is very limited. [About 27% of students are athletes.]
What’s an alternative to going to a party or bar that you like for a night out?
Some students invest a lot of time in clubs. There are student-run concerts. Burlington’s 45-minutes away, so not a ton of people go there but it’s accessible, and Montreal is 3 hours away. In the winter there’s skiing, Middlebury has its own mountain, the Snowbowl. There are also social houses for interest groups, like LGBTQ, outdoors, and language house that will have events, but those are usually smaller events.
How happy were you with the weekend options at Middlebury? Is there anything you would change about it if you could?
I’m not that happy with it. Socially, the school needs to figure out a better solution for parties because right now it’s not great. It can be a fun school but it’s definitely not a place you go to for good social life.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends through my sports team and through clubs.
How would you describe the social scene?
The social scene is fractured. There are different groups and scenes. There are the people who identify themselves as the outdoorsy people, the left-wing activist types, the LGBTQ types, the athletes, and the nerdy types.
Do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
The student body is somewhat fractured between races, but they do mix. Most of the college is White, but it would not be abnormal to go to an athlete party hosted by a predominantly white team and to have people of color and people of different sexual orientations there. [As of Fall 2018, about 61% of the students are White.]
Do people seem happy with Middlebury by senior year?
Yes, many do like the choice. Many grow to like it over the years. It is not necessarily an easy place to go to school. It is isolated, academically difficult, and cold. People bond over getting through it, surviving the winter, and most graduate ready to move on.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Middlebury before you entered as a freshman?
The winters are worse than you think. The school is more isolated than you anticipate.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Sit in Ross Dining Hall for a while and people watch, go to a few classes in your major. Pick up a copy of the Middlebury Campus to see what the current conversations are on campus.
Reasons to attend Middlebury College:
1) The academic reputation.
2) The Vermont setting.
3) Availability of winter sports.
Reasons to not attend Middlebury College:
1) It’s isolated.
2) It’s not the typical college experience. It’s small, there’s not much school spirit, and there are limited friend options. [There are about 2,500 undergraduate students.]