BackgroundInterview Date:April 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 90 students. There was a culture of going to college.
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete and I’m in a fraternity.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
If you’re going to start engineering right from the beginning, you take three STEM-related classes and one other class. Then all the STEM classes will be a lot of problem sets and the only writing you do is a lab report. It’s mostly online homework. You get in a good routine with each class where a lab is due one day and each of these problem sets are due this day. The big things are the exams. You have to study pretty consistently for those and spend time reading the textbook too.
Is there anything you feel the Mechanical Engineering department does especially well or especially poorly?
Engineering is a smaller major so it’s definitely not the school’s main focus. They have dedicated buildings for labs and research and stuff like that, so you have the tools necessary but it’s not an engineering [focused] school.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
The biggest class I have might have 25 people, and I also have a class with like 8 people, and both of those are STEM classes. The earlier intro level classes will have a lot of kids and as you get to the higher-level classes they will be a lot smaller. It’s definitely collaborative. Amongst the engineers it’s competitive, but there is the feeling that it’s a difficult major so there’s a collective feeling of everyone’s working together.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
Calculus 3. It’s not that the subject is especially exciting, it was more the professor. That was the first time I started getting in the habit of going to professor’s office hours. The professor did a very good job of encouraging that.
What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Thermodynamics. The class is extremely difficult. I had taken the minimal number of prerequisites and I don’t think I was ready for it. The professor had a day job working at an engineering firm so he was never around during the day and the office hours were when I had practice.
Are you happy with your major choice?
Yeah, I mean the reputation for the major is true where it’s a ton of work. There’s no real given stuff, you can study for hours and hours and get a C or something. That’s just what it is. With that being said, I’m happy with it because it’s valuable information that I’ve gained that is going to be practical to use.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Jackson in a single room where it’s two singles and a door in between. It was nice having a single, but freshman year having the ideal roommate you get along with is a good way to get your foot into Trinity. I was lucky in the sense that I had a sports team coming in. My problem with Jackson was that everybody was in their room rather than actually leaving the room.
Sophomore: Goodwin-Woodward in a one-room double right on the quad. It was a really big double, so we had enough space to have a couch, both of our beds not bunked and still have space. The location was really central.
Junior: I lived in Jarvis, which is one of the original Trinity buildings. It was an eight-person living situation with a giant common room. These are the most desirable rooms for eight people along with Crescent Street Townhouses. There are plenty of seniors who want to live in Jarvis as well.
Senior: Ogilby, which is a school owned dorm but is reserved for kids in my fraternity. It’s just two singles and a common room.
What was your favorite living situation?
As of now, definitely Jarvis. We have our own room and all of us together in one giant space. You probably won’t live with eight other people other than college.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
The area around Trinity is definitely not very good. Trinity is almost like a little oasis with campus safety always around the perimeter. I guess sometimes that’s kind of necessary, but it’s unfortunate because it creates a divide between the college and the local community. At the same time, there have been students robbed, but [it’s pretty rare]. [The violent crime rate in Hartford, CT is 85% higher than the national average and the property crime rate is 69% higher than the national average.]
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
As a nice restaurant, Max’s Oyster Bar. Just in general, the West Hartford area has a lot of good places to go to.
What is your favorite place on or off campus?
Probably just going to restaurants or something. Usually, if we’re going off campus it’s to go to a restaurant.
Pros and cons of being located in Hartford, CT?
Pros: (1) It’s a city, which means you have all the amenities, like a hospital and a mall and all that stuff.
(2) The city is small, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Cons: (1) Hartford as a whole does not have a lot going for it. Historically, it was a very good city but as New York and Boston grew it stayed stagnant. I don’t see myself staying here after college.
(2) It’s not really that safe. Particularly in the area where Trinity is. It’s not like you walk off campus and feel in danger, but you do need a little bit of street smarts.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Trinity has its groups, and being in Greek life I stay on that side of campus when it comes to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. [About 22% of students are involved in Greek life.]
Trinity has its sections of campus where everything goes on, but there is one constant area which is where the fraternities and other social houses are. There’s another area called the Crescent Townhouses, which are 8-9 person living homes, so people who maybe aren’t in Greek life might have a smaller party and after they’ll go to the North side of campus where all the fraternities are. Also, on the North side of campus, there is The Mill where there will be student concerts and stuff like that.
What have been your favorite times at Trinity?
I like when we have our own parties because it’s nice to have your own party. The spring is easily the most fun time at Trinity. It’s nice and people are outside in good spirits.
Do freshman boys have trouble getting into parties?
Yes and no. When you’ve been on campus for a couple of years you know what is open, when things open, when the best time to go is if you want to have an easy time getting in. It’s not that freshmen are necessarily limited, it’s just that freshmen guys will show up in a group of 7 guys at the most packed hour and then they might have a hard time getting in. I think a lot of it is being smarter about it.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Trinity? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I like it a lot. Trinity’s in a city but I would say 95% is contained to the campus. That has to do with the fact that it’s not in the best part of Hartford. I enjoy the fact that everything is so close to my room. If I go out for a little bit and maybe I want to take a 20-minute break or something I can because if I leave it’s not like the night’s over. It allows you to be pretty flexible so I like that a lot.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Some of them were on my team. I met them right away freshman year. The others were through engineering because it’s a pretty intense major so everyone’s kind of working on stuff together at the same time. Greek life has given me the opportunity to meet a different group of people. Between athletics, academics, and Greek life, they have all allowed me to form a well-rounded friend group.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Trinity makes a really strong effort to work on this. I think it’s interesting how freshman year all the freshman dorms are in the same spot, and then an almost natural thing occurs where everybody in their groups move to different parts of campus. The problem is people will form a group with people that are like themselves, so, unfortunately, it’s almost like a natural separation will occur. After freshman year people have their own agenda, and it’s not an aggressive thing where they don’t want to hang out with certain people, it’s just that people gravitate towards people like themselves.
How would you describe the student body?
There’s a pretty good number of international students. Of the White students, there are a lot of kids who come from private school, and those would be more like the New England boarding schools and prep schools. That’s where that divide I mentioned earlier will occur, that’s a group that forms and international students will come and hang out together. [In 2017, the student population was 65% White, 11% international students, 8% Hispanic students, and 6% Black students. 67% of students came from the Northeast. Socioeconomically, 26% of students come from the top 1%.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not me personally. I’d say there’s a big alumni group that people tap into. Especially in Greek life, like recent alumni in their fraternity or even older alumni might help them out. Engineering doesn’t have a lot of opportunities there, but I know for students who do Economics or Political Science that’s been extremely helpful for them. That’s one of Trinity’s big things, I think there is a very strong alumni network and people will take advantage of that. The undergrads who take advantage of that will try to continue that strong network. I could see myself wanting to help a Trinity kid out to keep that great part of Trinity going. [20% of graduates in classes 2003-2012 are in Financial Services and 16% are in Elementary/Secondary/Adult Education.]
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve gotten really, really good at MatLab due to engineering.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What’s something you wish you knew about Trinity before entering as a freshman?
From where I am at home, I thought it’s a similar city to Hartford, and I heard a lot of prep school students went to Trinity, and I went to a private school so I thought that would be similar. I wish I understood the difference to where I am at home to the environment here. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and that’s partly an ignorance of my own of not really being exposed to a lot of other places. So, I wish I understood the social climate of New England people before coming. With that being said, there are plenty of other people at the school so you don’t have to interact with that.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The athletic center could definitely use some renovation and I think a lot of people would agree with me. Also, I think Trinity is a unique nightlife for a very small school in that a large percentage of the student body likes to go out and party, so if that’s not really what you’re looking for [be aware of that]. [About 22% of students are involved in Greek life.]
Reasons to attend Trinity:
1) The campus is beautiful. I think when spring comes around there are so many people on the quad tossing the frisbee or doing work. The quad brings the whole student body together.
2) The social life is very vibrant. It’s something that a large percentage of the school participates in.
3) It’s a good school and I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth in my education.
4) It has pretty good sports teams overall. Even though it’s Division III, our football team has the best record in all of NESCAC history. So, around homecoming people get excited about that.
Reasons to not attend Trinity:
1) Hartford as a city could be better. It doesn’t really have any major league sports teams, it’s pretty small, and the specific area that Trinity is in is not that great.
2) It’s one of the most expensive schools in the country.
3) Sometimes I feel like, at least the group I surround myself with, can be money conscious and have a pretentious culture, which is not something that I am really into. I think it exists more than the average school.