An Interview On
University of South Carolina

Background

Interview Date:December 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Private school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a graduating class of 80 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Finance and Operations and Supply Chain
Minor: Chinese
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in Greek life, the Carolina Fund, Operations and Supply Chain Society, and Carolina Gamecocks Consulting Club.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
The Carolina Fund has had the biggest impact on my experience. In particular, it’s been a good way to bring students together in an academic setting from different parts of campus that are both involved and not involved in Greek life. You have to apply to this club through an online application, and they are all run by students.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for majors?
For Operations and Supply Chain I’m taking standard business classes which are lecture based. There are a few big projects and exams, along with a lot of homework and problem sets. We have capstone programs, which gives us the option to work with a company in the industry. Finance is pretty different because you can choose from so many electives. I’m taking a case study focused course, but there are other run-of-the-mill business classes which are lecture and online homework based.

Is there anything that you feel the either of your majors’ departments does especially well or especially poorly?
I’ve had tons of experience with faculty from both departments. My professors in Operations and Supply Chain are very proactive in seeking out students for certain opportunities. Because there are so many Finance students, it’s a little harder to connect with those professors. Almost all of the professors I’ve had are very approachable, down to earth, and easy to work with.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Definitely collaborative, but in finance there can sometimes be a competitive environment. In my Investment Management Portfolio Strategy class, we used Stock Track [as a portfolio simulator] in the class, and the with portfolios finishing in the top 10% got extra credit. Other classes are collaborative where you are almost always working in a group, opposed to listening to a lecture.

How accessible have your professors been?
Incredibly. I can’t say enough about that. I think it’s different for me because I’ve had more classes with non-tenured professors who are trying to establish a good reputation.

Why did you choose your combination majors? And are you happy with your choice?
I’m definitely happy with my choice. I knew I wanted to do finance because of my interest in business. I was unsure about my second major, so I chose the Operations and Supply Chain Major because it’s on the come up. We have the [thirteenth] best program, and the students are known to have great relationships with their professors. I want to do venture capital somewhere down the road, so this led me to both majors. [The Supply Chain program is ranked No. 13 in the nation by Gartner.]

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: South Quad with three roommates

Sophomore: Fraternity house with multiple roommates

Junior: Off-campus house near the Five Points

What was your favorite living situation?
I had a positive experience freshman year and loved sophomore year because of the environment. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but there is something for everyone.

How was transitioning from your hometown in Philadelphia to Columbia, South Carolina?
Actually, very easy. There is a large pool of kids coming from the Northeast. Lots of kids in my classes are from Boston and Maryland, so there wasn’t a culture shock at all. In terms of weather, it only got better coming down here. [41% of the Class of 2022 are from out-of-state.]

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on campus?
I think on campus it’s not a worry at all.

Pros and cons of being located in Columbia, South Carolina?
Pros:
1) Although it’s the state capital and a big city, it’s interesting that most of what goes on in the city revolves around the student life.
2) It’s in the center of the state if you want to travel to nearby cities.

Cons:
1) When it’s not football season with tailgates to go to, there isn’t much variety for what to do on the weekends.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I live right by Five Points, which is the bar district. There are a dozen bars all right next to one another, and it’s nice to get familiar with as you begin your college journey. Football season and tailgating on Saturdays are a big deal. Being in Greek life, we have connections with local businesses to host events.

Are there regular places you go on certain nights?
There are specials at different bars on any given night. At this point, I probably go out on Thursday and Friday during the week because of my course load right now. There are definitely kids that will go out any day of the week.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It’s a pretty strict numbers thing. Certain fraternities go to certain spots and stick to each other. Some work well together, so the downtown scene can be composed of different Greek organizations that work together. There are two main tailgating areas. One is reserved for fraternities on campus, so if you aren’t in one or don’t have a wristband for that lot, you are diverted into a separate area to tailgate.

How happy are you with the nightlife at USC? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with it.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Through Greek life. I knew a few people coming down here but met a lot of friends through pledging.

How would you describe the overall social scene at USC?
It’s accepting. Even if I weren’t in Greek life I’d find a new spot for myself within the business school, or outside socially on campus.

To what extent do people inside and outside of Greek life mix?
A good amount for sure. I have a healthy number of friends not in fraternities so I’d say the line isn’t that hard between those in Greek life and not. [About 25% of students are in Greek life at South Carolina.]

How would you describe the student body?
Our student body is big enough that students falling into any crowd can find their own scene. I don’t think there is one particular look for the whole student body. [The undergraduate population is 26,362.]

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Racially, I’d say a lot. There isn’t really any separation in my eyes. As far as sexual orientation, I would say I don’t know a lot of gay people on campus.

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year? Do people “love” your school?
Yes. Of the people I’ve met, I know less than five that have transferred out. I think by the third-year people are really happy here.

How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
We have around [26,000] in terms of undergraduate students, but being in the business school and the organizations I’m in makes it feel smaller. I’d say the size doesn’t have a huge impact on me.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
My alumni network within my Greek organization has benefited me more than the school’s alumni connections.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They have been pretty helpful. I used the business school career center to get my resume reviewed. I visited an advisor my freshman year to map out what an internship experience may look like after my freshman year.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I’ve learned Tablo, SQL, a little bit of C++, and Microsoft Office.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
I based my college decision primarily based on financial aid. They are very rewarding to out of state kids interested in coming to Columbia. My financial situation was not squared away coming back into the country, but they were able to get it situated in about 10 minutes. [91% of freshmen receive some form of financial aid, and in the 2017-2018 academic 1,742 students studied abroad.]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about USC before you entered as a freshman?
You can’t wear tank tops downtown. I visited USC senior year [of high school] and tried to go out downtown wearing a tank top and looked like an idiot.

What is something a prospective student interested in Greek life may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
I really have made my closet friends through the experience of joining a Greek organization. It’s not for everyone, but joining a fraternity in general is a good idea, whether it’s a social or professional organization. It’s a good idea to surround yourself with people that have similar goals as you.

What is something a prospective business school student may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
Most of the professors you have in the business school are very approachable. Once you establish a relationship with them, they are genuinely concerned about your well-being.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would encourage anyone to visit the business school because it’s one of the nicer buildings. Student athletics is pretty important here, so if you have the opportunity to see a game, definitely go.

Reason to attend USC?
1) It’s an accepting environment for how big the school is. I’ve never felt intimidated by the size, and I’m always comfortable going to someone I’ve never met for help.
2) The Greek community in itself is really strong.
3) We have pretty good facilities for fitness and intramural sports.

Reason to not attend USC?
1) It’s a big school, so you can get lost with the number of people that go here. [The undergraduate population is about 26,300 students.]
2) I can see how some people feel excluded if they aren’t in a Greek organization.

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