BackgroundInterview Date:June 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
High School Experience: Private school in New York City, New York with a graduating class of about 60 students. The majority of students went to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Studio Art
Extracurricular Activities: There is no Greek life, but I participate in a lot of art based clubs. I’m part of the Student Art Commission, and I also played Club Basketball.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
No, it falls very flat outside of the classroom in terms of engagement in school programs. Not many people are active in outside activities.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It’s mostly studio time and personal projects with due dates. For my Philosophy minor, it’s mostly readings. There are about three to four hours of reading every other day. The major grades include a midterm, a final, and maybe a big research paper with one or two smaller papers.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
I think we have a very archaic art program. A lot of the philosophies about art in general are outdated. In some regard, I think it’s annoying how old it feels at times.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very collaborative. I don’t think a single person has a competitive mindset about it, and if you do you [would be an outlier.]
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Very. That’s something I really value about my time here. I’ve spent an insane amount of time with my professors outside of class.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
It’s very liberal. I’m a liberal person and I’m even turned off sometimes by the lack of ability to see other perspectives. It’s a very student accommodating school.
What is your favorite class in your major?
I do printmaking as my concentration, so Advanced Printmaking is my favorite.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I work in a tattoo shop in the city, and my plan post-graduation is to finish my tattoo apprenticeship and do that full time. I was originally a Philosophy major, but I was unhappy so I decided to be an art major because I spent all my time painting. I weirdly enough regret that decision because I made it while in a dark place and wasn’t doing well. In retrospect, I think it’s a waste of time and money. I should’ve done the Art major with a focus on design. Skidmore does a poor job at advising. My advisor told me to take whatever I wanted and to have fun. Sophomore year I finally decided to be an Art major. Once I looked at the requirements, I realized I was so behind and I wouldn’t finish on time. This is a very common occurrence for people to not graduate on time. [The 4-year graduation rate for the class of 2018 was around 83%.]
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived over the past three years?
Freshman: Wilmarth Hall with three roommates.
Sophomore: Wait Hall in a double. Second semester I got pulled into an apartment with three other people when our friends went abroad.
Junior: 4 Cane apartment complex.
What was your favorite living situation?
Last semester living in 4 Cane, which is an apartment complex.
How was transitioning from Manhattan to Saratoga Springs, NY?
Really good. I grew up in New York City and I was ready to get out to a quiet space. There is no better college town compared to Saratoga Springs. It’s a city so you can walk downtown, and it has anything you’d ever need. There’s a bookstore, amazing coffee shops, some of the best food, and Skidmore also has the woods in our backyard.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Off-campus is super safe. It’s such a wealthy city. Caroline Street downtown is the nightlife street and is where all walks of life from upstate New York congregate to go drinking on the weekend. There are some whacky, not safe people. It’s an actual city, not just a college town. I’ve never heard of anybody having altercations on campus. [The median household income is $76,775 and the poverty rate is 6.76%.]
Pros and cons of being located in Saratoga Springs, NY?
1) Food. If you want to get off campus to get something nice to eat that isn’t the dining hall.
2) Culture. It’s a place you can meet people that aren’t necessarily Skidmore students.
3) I like the bars. Not every college student turns 21 until later, but I love that I can go to a dive bar, and then I can go across the way to a place where I can dance.
1) The local upstate New York crowd.
2) The way Skidmore interacts with the surrounding area makes it a bubble. You can feel very trapped here.
3) The winter because it’s freezing.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I play in a lot of bands here. I’ll go see a lot of my friends, and maybe even play a show off-campus at a house. There are house parties, and then if you’re 21 you go get a beer downtown. There’s a divide between the athletes and the art people, and it’s separated into the “red side,” which is the artsy people and the “blue side,” which are the athletes. The school has such a good business program, but it also has a good art program. We have very different people on campus. I have a ton of friends that are on the sports side, which is the sports side, so I don’t really feel that. The sports students will say their weekends consist of going to a sports house, which is like a frat house. [See The Skidmore News article
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Only on the weekends.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Seeing a friend’s band perform then going home. There’s also the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which is a good concert venue. There’s definitely a culture of staying in. A lot of people spend at least one night a week with their friends staying inside and going to bed early. I wish I was better at doing this, but I personally like going out.
How happy were you with the nightlife at Skidmore? If you could change anything, what would you change?
I think there’s a bad culture of people always wanting the next best thing. People are always looking for the best option, and nothing is ever good enough. [If I could change something] I would consolidate people. I wouldn’t have people throw ten different parties.
How did you meet your closest friends?
In the dining hall. I just sat down with one guy I briefly met at orientation, and his old roommate is now my best friend.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s really good. It’s not the kind of place where you have to be the coolest kid to have a bunch of friends. It’s very accepting, and most people do well socially.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Races mix really infrequently. We have a big problem where part of our dining hall is where all the Black and Latino students sit, and we don’t interact with them. I have a lot of non-White friends, and maybe that’s because I made an effort to not just work in the bubble of people I know. I’d say sexual orientation is not a problem.
How would you describe the student body?
Skidmore students are super lazy. They are not very goal oriented, but I kind of like that because if you’re someone like me who has an interest and a goal for themselves, that population works in your favor. Being someone who wants to be a tattoo artist, I guarantee after school so many people will come and get tattooed by me. I’d say there aren’t a lot of people at this school with an artistic, business, or professional goal after school. It’s not very disciplined.
How do you like the size of the undergraduate population at Skidmore? [Skidmore has an undergraduate enrollment of about 2,600 students.]
It’s good and bad. It’s bad because of how it affects the dating culture. If I want to meet a new girl, in the conversation she’ll mention that she knows people I’ve [had relationships] with and then it’ll be off. It’s good because the tightness of it makes people feel like they’re not lonely. You don’t slip through the cracks here, so you don’t have the ability to feel isolated. [62% of the undergraduate population is White, 5% is Black, 9% is Hispanic, and 5% Asian.]
Do people generally seem happy with their choice of Skidmore by senior year? Do people leave loving your school?
I think people love it, but are ready to leave in a good way.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Absolutely not. I’d say the weakest thing about Skidmore is the career development and alumni relations.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I’ve heard horror stories that they aren’t helpful. It’s very weak.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Skidmore before you entered as a freshman?
That it’s important to start doing my requirements immediately.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
The radio station is super cool and is very informative. If I had seen it when I visited, I would’ve been even more excited to come here. That’s because I’m into music, so I don’t know how relevant that is.
Reasons to attend Skidmore:
1) Despite your major or minor, you’re going to have to be involved in interdisciplinary things, which I think is beneficial.
2) Your professors will be your best friends or your worst enemies. You get to know them so well that it might be too close in the sense. A big part of your class experience is based on your relationship with your professor.
3) It’s a good space to be an adult in. It’s an opportunity to be mature and grow up a little bit.
Reasons to not attend Skidmore:
1) It’s a very gossipy school. I think people spend a lot of time on social nonsense and drama.
2) Your professors will be so close to you that it’ll feel like they’re always on top of you. If I don’t hand in homework I just shouldn’t get the points, but I don’t want it to be a whole personal thing of them asking what’s going on.
3) The administration doesn’t have an interest in listening to the student body. If they come to a decision that we disagree on they listen to us, but it never seems to be considered. Once a year we have an event called Fun Day, where they tell us to let loose and go have fun. There’s a concert outside and drinks on the green. They decided they are going to start checking our bags for alcohol. I think this promotes binge drinking because the freshman are so excited for their first college event that they will get too drunk. I attended the meeting where I spoke with the president it didn’t seem like they cared about this opinion. [See The Skidmore News article, “Administrators, Government, and Disinterested Students.”]