BackgroundInterview Date:January 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Utica, New York, with 900 people in the graduating class. There was not a huge culture of going to college because it’s a very underfunded district.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: International Relations. I’m on the pre-law track.
Minor: Chinese Studies
Extracurricular Activities: Greek life
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
We mainly have readings and essays. My History and Political Science courses are writing intensive, while my Chinese classes are more problem set based.
What are your major graded assignments?
It depends on the professor, but my current teachers place a lot of emphasis on the essays and final exams.
Is there anything you feel that the International Relations department does especially well or poorly?
Our department chair is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He’s tough on students, but it pushes you. For the most part, the professors all know what they are talking about.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would say it’s definitely collaborative and nobody is out to get each other here. If you’re ever in need of help, you could hit people up any time. People are open to discussing ideas or brainstorming on a paper.
How accessible have your professors been?
When professors email me back I can tell they give insightful commentary to what I’m asking them. [In my experience], only a few professors will be unavailable.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I would say so. I’ve taken some Religion and Philosophy courses where there are definitely competing views. Where I’m from, I didn’t know anyone who was Jewish at all, so this has been a culture shock for me. Taking these Religion courses has allowed me to hear the different perspective of many people. Overall, people typically try and understand where the other one is coming from, as opposed to coming for each other’s throat.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
I have been pretty independent my whole life, so the transition into dorm life wasn’t that difficult. As far as academics go, I immediately liked it and tried harder than in high school. I think learning about things I am interested in makes the world of difference.
Why did you pick your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m definitely happy with it. In high school I was involved with the Speech and Debate Club and Model UN where I began to develop international skills and interest. For my major, it’s heavily recommended you study abroad. I was able to do so because I got a Named Scholarship, and two grants for going abroad.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Day Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: Fraternity house with no roommates
How was transitioning from your hometown in Utica to Syracuse, NY?
It’s 45 minutes away, which is far enough that my parents won’t come to visit all the time. It’s also close enough that I could always run home if needed.
Pros and cons of being located in Syracuse, NY?
1) You will get a good workout walking to class. It’s a very hilly region.
2) If you like winter, it’s nice.
1) There are very few restaurants.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Syracuse?
House parties, going out to bars and clubs, stuff like that. It’s all in the center of the city which is nice. The Greek life scene here is very large which is something they don’t mention on tours.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
It depends on the work I have for that week. On a week where I have hypothetically no work, I’ll probably go out Wednesday – Saturday. If there is a week I have a lot of work or not feeling good, I’ll just stay in and go to my girlfriend’s dorm.
What’s the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It’s pretty much everything I’d say. There are people who love it, and people who hate it. [About 30% of the students are affiliated.]
How happy are you with the nightlife at Syracuse? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it, it’s a great party school.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Some of my closest friends are in my fraternity house, but some other friends outside the fraternity I met on my dorm hall. Keeping in contact with other friends is important. It’s not worth burning bridges with other friends if you have more social opportunities than them, such as being part of Greek life.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Syracuse?
Different groups of people, such as those in Greek life, the arts, or athletics, all have their own houses. Everyone pretty much does their own thing, and you will find your people over time.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Different races have a large multicultural and international Greek life scene. It seems like these groups usually hang out with people of their ethnic origins, limited to African Americans and Latinos. They do cool things, like they have artists come to perform.
A lot of what you do is governed by what school you are in [within Syracuse]. For example, people are usually separated among the Business School, Public Relations, Visual Performing Arts, and the Engineering School.
How would you describe the student body?
There is a large amount of school spirit. For one out of every three or four people you see, there will be some article of Syracuse apparel on them. For the student body, I’d say that there is a large number of intelligent people here. At the same time, there are others on the opposite end where it seems like they don’t appreciate what they are learning.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
If I didn’t have financial aid I would not be able to come here. It’s very pricey if you don’t get anything, so it’s helped quite a bit. I had to apply for the Named Scholarship on my own, but I received grants for the study abroad. My dad and I talked to the financial aid office, where we just walked up and they gave us more money than initially granted. [Tuition is $50,230, but total direct costs around about $67,000.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No, it has not.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I don’t necessarily use it, but if anything, I’d go to my advisor and talk with them about internships.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
In my Introduction to Public Policy class we heavily used Excel and my professor advised his students to get the certification.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Syracuse before you entered as a freshman?
Take every opportunity in front of you, and experience everything you possibly can. I would try out new things because you may discover something you like, such as by taking different classes.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
You can’t encapsulate the social scene on a visit. Something they might miss could be the sheer amount of walking you will do here. I was waitlisted so I didn’t go to the accepted student’s day or anything, but it was a cool experience to see everything unfold in front of you as time goes on. You should also question everything in your classes to get a deeper understanding of what things mean.
Reasons to attend Syracuse:
1) Fantastic social scene.
2) There are great professors and resources around campus, such as libraries and financial coaches.
3) There are different clubs and organizations you can join that will boost your resume.
4) The name of Syracuse is a bonus.
Reasons to not attend Syracuse:
1) The weather.
2) If you are extremely introverted, I would say your experience here would be difficult.