University of South Carolina
BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private school outside of Philadelphia, PA with a graduating class of about 120 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Public Health (B.S.)
Extracurricular Activities: Public Health Society, Physician’s Assistant Club, and for the first two years was on the club tennis team
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
Club tennis did because I met a lot of people through it and it was a way for me to branch out other than my classes and the people I normally saw. It gave me another group of people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I joined for that purpose, and I stopped playing once I found it.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
Now that I’m finished my general courses they’re about half Business Administration classes and half in Public Health. That means classes are based on health promotion, education, and behavior, and the other half is all in the sciences and have labs. Most of my major grades are exams.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The Public Health Department has really good advisors, which can be tough to find at a school this big.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
As I’ve gotten older it’s become more competitive, but it’s a comfortable environment. You’re never feeling super behind. It’s competitive in the sense that you could put in a ton of work and that wouldn’t change the way the teacher teaches you. It’s not competitive in the sense that you wouldn’t study with someone. It’s competitive that they’re tougher classes and you’re working hard, not competing against other people.
How accessible are your professors?
As long as you put forth the effort it’s not hard to get in touch with them, but, being a school this big, nobody is going to approach you if you’re not doing well. As long as you send the email or ask them, they’re willing to help. In general, I think they’re also very approachable.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I was originally a business major and based that decision off the fact that it’s one of the highest ranked programs at USC and I thought it looked good since I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The classes were tough for me and I just don’t think that’s what I’m good at. I ended up changing to Public Health because it’s a popular major and I knew people in it. I took some classes and was putting forth the same effort as the business classes but getting good grades, so it was a click for me.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on and around campus?
Freshman: Preston Residential College with one immediate roommate and we shared a bathroom with two other girls.
Sophomore: The Hub at Columbia with three other apartment-mates
Junior: The Hub at Columbia with three other apartment-mates
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
With any city, there are areas that are going to be unsafe. I’ve never felt unsafe on campus. The campus is all one attached area so when you go from one place to another you’re just on campus. To get back to my apartment you have to walk through downtown. There have been times where I’ve felt uncomfortable doing that, but I’ve never felt unsafe.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Philadelphia to Columbia, SC?
There was honestly no culture shock. I had a very smooth transition to South Carolina. Even though it’s far from home I feel like I ended up in the best place possible.
Pros and cons of being located in Columbia, SC?
Pros: (1) The school is close to the Columbia airport, so if you’re flying in it’s easy.
(2) It’s the state capital. The state house is next to campus and that has opportunities for students to work in the state house. It also brings people there and makes the city feel more important.
(3) I love that Columbia is 1.5 hours from Charlotte, 2 Hours from Charleston, and 3 hours to Atlanta. I’ve gotten to know those other cities so well by doing weekend trips and going to concerts there. I feel like I’ve gotten to experience cities that’d I’d never spend more than one weekend in.
(4) You’re an hour from the mountains and an hour and a half from the beach.
Cons: The food isn’t very good in Columbia, especially the sushi and bagels.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
There is a big downtown scene in an area called Five Points. It’s an area with a bunch of bars and that’s the nightlife I participate in most. Students go out there on weekdays and weekends. There are also home tailgates on Saturdays which are a huge part of our social life.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out? Are there certain things you like to do on certain nights?
This year it’s Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Every year I’ve been in school Friday and Saturday have been consistent, but the regular weekday has changed because my friend group will like to go out a different night and the bar deals change. With a school this big you can really go out any day of the week and it won’t feel much different.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Being in the South, there is a stereotype that you can’t do anything without it. Having Five Points forces our social life to be a bar scene instead of a house party scene, and also Greek life can’t host parties in their houses. Everybody just goes to a party and then goes downtown, so the reality is if you’re going to a bar it doesn’t matter if you’re in Greek life or not. For boys, it’s more important socially than girls because fraternities hold events and any girl can go so it doesn’t matter for them. Also, in the fall the frats hold tailgates and any girl can come, but if you’re a boy and are not in the frat you’ll have like a thousand questions asked of you. It’s harder for boys who are not in fraternities socially in general.
How happy are you with the nightlife at South Carolina? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I love our nightlife. I think socially it’s a really fun school. If I could change anything, it’d be that I like house parties more than bars so I would suggest more house parties. At the same time, being a bar school forces a lot of people to have to do that and I think that opens up the social scene a lot which I like. It makes it so Greek life is not as important as it is at other big southern schools.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my best friends through mutual friends. I met other people through other things, like club tennis, but I met my best friends through mutual friends.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s a huge party. It’s constant and can be overwhelming to people who aren’t used to it. After you’re here you get a feel for it and can find a balance for your social life and academics. It’s overwhelming in that there are constantly events, but as you get older you learn that you don’t have to go to everything and you can pick and choose what you want to go to.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Rarely. It’s not necessarily very obvious that people don’t mix because it’s a diverse school. [About 77% of students are White and 10% of students are African-American.] I don’t know if going to a school in the South has anything to do with that it’s very separated. When you sit in a classroom you can see the diversity, but socially it’s not as diverse.
How would you describe the student body?
The student body has a lot of energy and a lot of heart. Everybody goes all out for any event for South Carolina, so for football there will be a huge crowd and even at a women’s tennis match there will be a crowd. I love when people visit, I try to have people down for football games because the energy’s crazy.
How do you like the size of South Carolina? [South Carolina has about 26,360 undergraduates.]
I like the size. As big as the school is I find ways to make it small. By the time you’re a junior, it gets smaller and you have a social circle that you’re consistently with and that ends up being your social life. It always amazes me that my friends who went to liberal arts schools say that it feels like high school again because they see the same people everywhere they go. You see new people here everywhere you go, but as you make friends it ends up being so small and it doesn’t feel like that it’s a big school until you’re in the football stadium. I think South Carolina does a great job of making the school feel smaller with Greek life and clubs.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of South Carolina by senior year?
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
South Carolina holds a lot of career fair so there are constant emails from whatever college you’re in sending information about a career fair or summer internships or winter break internships. There are also people here a lot for career panels.
Have you used the career office at all? If so, how helpful have they been?
I’ve been twice. I went once for help with my resume and they edited it for me which was really helpful. The second time I went was when I got advice on what major I should choose based on what jobs I wanted. They helped and narrowed it down to Public Health. I haven’t been that many times, but the times I’ve gone they’ve been very helpful.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. I used Microsoft Excel for my science labs.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about South Carolina before entering as a freshman?
Not knowing anything going in made South Carolina the experience it was, so I don’t think there’s something I wish I knew. The two things I always say to people who are looking at South Carolina is that Columbia is a city that has everything. You have a campus that makes you feel like you’re on campus, but the downtown area is right next to campus. You’re also an hour away from the mountains and an hour and a half away from the beach. The location has a lot more positives than I realized before coming. The other thing I tell people is it’s not that important to be in a sorority then you would think going in. You have to rush freshman year before you start classes, so you literally know nothing. For boys, it’s more important and I would suggest rushing to feel it out, but for girls, it doesn’t matter if you end up in one or not.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Greek Village and the football stadium.
Reasons to attend South Carolina:
1) Weather. The weather makes a huge difference in your mood and behavior. Having the weather be nice helps people get out and do stuff more.
2) The social life. There is always something to do. If you don’t like the bars, there are clubs that do social things.
3) It’s a big school so you’re guaranteed to find someone who shares your interests.
4) The location.
Reasons to not attend South Carolina:
1) If you’re someone who doesn’t know how to advocate for themselves well or doesn’t ask questions, it’s easy to get lost academically. For example, the advisors have so many kids assigned to them they only talk to the people who reach out to them.
2) It’s hard to get answers to your questions. It can be hard to figure out who to talk to if you need an answer about something, and to know if the answer you get is the right answer. Multiple times I have gotten wrong answers about stuff.
3) If your learning style is in small classrooms, you may struggle in the classes because up until junior year you’re mostly in large lecture halls. If that’s hard for you, I’d consider a smaller school.