BackgroundInterview Date:February 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Public school in Cupertino, CA with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Computer Science
Extracurricular Activities: I am a student-athlete.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
It’s been good. I’ve made a lot of friends through sports. Being on the team has also connected me to people on other teams as well. College is a stressful time for time management, so it keeps me in shape. I’m able to fit in working out, playing tennis, and doing what I love, so it’s a good experience overall.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Computer Science?
It’s fairly light. We have homework due every two or three weeks. The homework itself is pretty long, so you have to start it early. It’s just homework and tests, there are no labs.
Is there anything that you feel the Computer Science department does especially well or poorly?
In terms of teaching, the professors are very knowledgeable and accessible.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s pretty collaborative. I don’t find it competitive at all, and no one compares themselves. No one’s that big on grades. It’s pretty relaxed, and I like that.
How accessible are your professors?
They are very accessible. They have office hours so you can meet them pretty much any day.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I was planning to do Sociology, but my dad wanted me to take a Computer Science course so I promised I would. When I did take the course, it was interesting, so I decided to switch.
How was managing both your sport and coursework?
It’s pretty difficult. Being on a varsity team is pretty rigorous, and computer science has been a lot of work. It’s hard to balance, but I make it work.
How was transitioning academically as a freshman to Occidental? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
There are tutoring systems, but I didn’t really use them. I adjusted on my own. At first, I found it hard to manage my time because you have to do things on your own. I wasn’t fully used to going to see the professor and emailing them. Everything is also more spread out geographically, compared to high school where things are compact.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Bell Young with two roommates
How was transitioning from Cupertino, CA to the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA?
The transition wasn’t hard. In terms of where I live in Eagle Rock, I’m surrounded by a Hispanic community. Cupertino is tech based, and there are lots of African Americans. It’s definitely different, so it took a little bit to adjust to the new culture.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
This campus is really secure. We have campus safety which is almost always active, and there isn’t much crime around the area.
Pros and cons of being located in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood of Los Angeles?
1) You’re close to downtown L.A. and Pasadena, which are fun areas to hang out in.
2) The food around the area is really good. There’s a lot of hidden local spots.
1) The neighborhoods around us are rundown and not as well managed. The infrastructure isn’t as good.
2) There’s a lack of diversity. It’s mainly a Hispanic community.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go to parties on campus, and sometimes clubs in L.A. I also go to the beach or explore L.A with my friends. Most of the parties are hosted by the fraternities, sororities, or sports teams. We have names for the sports team houses which throw the parties. Everyone is included, and people don’t care what grade you’re in.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Friday and Saturday.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
We mostly go to the parties to de-stress from the busy week and meet people. It depends on your mood and your friends.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Occidental? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
I wish there were more night events at Oxy. I wish clubs would host events more often because most of the time nothing is going on unless it’s a party.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I’ve met them through my sports team and the proximity of the dorm I live in. I also participated in OxyEngage, which is a pre-orientation program before college starts where we explore L.A. and get used to the environment around us.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
Everyone is fairly nice to each other, and it’s pretty inclusive. There aren’t many events to interact with people, so it’s pretty socially dead. The party scene isn’t very good, so you kind of have to meet people on your own, and through the friends you’ve made. It’s easy to make friends, but it’s hard to meet new people.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s a pretty high extent. In terms of race and sexual orientation, people tend to stick with their own because they feel more comfortable, which I think is common in general. But, mixing is pretty prevalent here. [The student body is 14% Hispanic, 5% Black, 51% White, and 13% Asian.]
How would you describe the student body?
I would describe them as outgoing and very individualistic. They are politically active and very open to talking about anything such as life or their issues. People are nice, easy to approach, and are eager to listen.
How do you like the size of Occidental in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How was transitioning to a school with [about 2,055] students?
I don’t really like the size. There are only like 2,000 undergraduates which is the size of my high school. I wanted to go to a bigger school to meet more people. After you’ve been here awhile you see the same faces every day. It could be bigger, but you get used to seeing people around all the time and saying hi.
To what extent do people inside and outside of Greek life mix?
They don’t mix that much. They stick with each other, but Greek life has open parties.
How strong is the East Asian community on campus?
There’s a small community of East Asians. There are some East Asian clubs, but they’re not big at all. It’s pretty tight-knit, but also hard to get into. If you’re not there from the start it’s hard to join the group. [See all student organizations here.]
Have you learned any computer languages or software that will be helpful to you professionally?
So far, we’ve learned Java and Python.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating has the office been to your needs?
I don’t get any financial aid, but they are very generous with it at Occidental. They are nice about it because they know it’s an expensive school. [The total cost of attending Occidental is $72,610. They meet 100% of the demonstrated need of admitted students.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Occidental before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how bad the dorms were. They are small, have no A/C, and are old. I wish I knew that so I could better prepare myself. Our dorms aren’t very homey, or comfortable.
What is something a prospective athlete may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
The athletics program here is really good. We have lots of great sports teams and the facilities are top notch. You can get lots of support and help from the directors, and the people working in athletics. They’ll definitely make you a better person and athlete.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Don’t miss OxyEngage, which is a way to make friends and get accustomed to this new life and environment.
Reasons to attend Occidental:
1) The food is pretty good. We’re ranked [No. 22] in the nation.
2) The location. Being in L.A, you are surrounded by everything you’d want.
Reasons to not attend Occidental:
1) The dorm life. They are one of the lower sides of Oxy. They aren’t up to date or modernized at all.
2) The walk around campus. The campus itself is pretty small, but it’s on a hill so there’s a lot of uphill and downhill walking.
3) It’s pretty politically correct. In a way, it instigates free speech, but at the same time, you have to be cautious about how you say things because people take it very seriously.