University of Maryland, College Park
BackgroundInterview Date:June 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019, but I’m finishing my M.S. in Finance in 2020
High School Experience: Public school in the Philadelphia suburbs with a graduating class of about 300 students.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Government & Politics (which is basically Political Science) and Finance double major
Extracurricular Activities: Fraternity, I am a T.A., I volunteer for America Reads America Counts, which is a tutoring program in the Maryland area, and I play intramural sports.
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
Definitely Greek life. I joined second semester freshman year and I’ve been on the executive board pretty much every semester. It’s played a really big role.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
For my Government classes, it’s mostly reading. The way the coursework works is you get a participation grade, maybe a midterm exam and paper, and a final. It’s not a lot of grades but they all have a really high percentage. For my business classes, you will typically have weekly problem sets, or something of that nature, and big midterms and big finals.
Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or especially poorly?
The business school does an incredible job of networking. The career guidance center is so good and I have a lot of opportunities for internships this summer because of it. I think the business school does a decent job of dealing with the fact that there are so many more students than professors. [There are 170 full-time professors and about 3,000 undergraduate students.] They’ll typically have a discussion section where you can actually have one-on-one time with your professor and office hours are really attainable.
The Government department also does a really good job of making a big school feel small. But, the Government department is pretty disorganized when it comes to internships. If you want to find an internship in politics then you’re pretty much on your own.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s competitive or collaborative?
It depends. The business school can certainly be competitive but it depends on who you associate yourself with. There are groups of people in the business school who are extremely competitive, but that’s just the top 1% of people. Besides that, it’s pretty collaborative. For all of my Government classes everyone is extremely collaborative. I don’t really sense any type of competition at all.
Why did you choose your combination of majors?
I started off as a Government major. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I was good at writing and reading. I realized I didn’t really want to work for the government or in politics and the stuff I liked the most was economics related, so I figured that getting a business degree would probably be the best thing.
Are you happy with your major choice?
Yeah, I’m extremely happy with it. I find that my Government classes are really interesting and the rigor isn’t’ too bad, and in my business classes you learn more practical skills and it’s a little bit harder. It’s the perfect balance.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Cumberland Hall on North Campus with one roommate. I was in the Scholars Program, and there’s specific housing if you’re in it. I thought Cumberland was great. It’s close to the dining hall and a good location for basketball and football games.
Sophomore & Junior: I lived in my frat house on fraternity row. Sophomore year I had a triple and junior year I had a single for a semester and then I went abroad. The Greek housing here is really great if you’re on fraternity row.
Can you describe the level of safety you experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never had an issue. I don’t know many people who have. People are scared that there are going to be problems because we’re in Prince George’s County which is kind of an unsafe area. The police department does a really good job of mitigating it if something does happen.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I mean, I always go to Chipotle, but Maryland actually had a great food variation.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
On the weekends I’ll sometimes go to D.C. and go to the monuments, do brunch somewhere, or go to a Redskins or Capitals game. Then also there’s Great Falls Park which is great for hiking in the spring.
Pros and Cons of being in College Park, MD?
Pros: (1) Internships. You have access to Baltimore and D.C., so interviewing is really easy. If you have a yearlong lease you can use it in the summer and commute.
(2) It’s a really good college town. Everything is built around the university and the school is huge.
(3) You can walk places pretty easily.
(4) It’s close to other big cities on the east coast. Philadelphia is only a two-hour drive, and New York City is only about 4 hours.
Cons: (1) There are some areas that are unsafe and rundown if you wander off campus too far.
(2) I wish there was more nature around. It’s all just towns and streets. You have to go pretty far to find any sense of nature.
(3) It’s classic Northeast weather, which is bad. You don’t see the sun a lot unless it’s summer and then it’s really humid.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Freshman year the bars were pretty much what everybody did. Sometimes there were dorm parties and apartment parties, but it was mostly the bars. After freshman year it became more Greek life oriented. We’d have three house parties a weekend and the option to go to happy hour on Friday, which is really popular. Besides that, you can’t really go to D.C. until you’re 21 and I just turned, so I will probably go to D.C. this year.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It depends if you want variation. If you like really like bars and apartment parties, you can not be in Greek life and be perfectly happy. If you want formals in D.C. and fraternity specific tailgates for football season, then you really miss out by not being in Greek life. I would say if I wasn’t in Greek life I would be very limited in my social life. [About 17% of students are involved in Greek life.]
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I wish that the bars weren’t the only thing you did freshman year. I had this idea that I would be able to go to school and we would have house parties all the time. Besides that, I think it’s a really good balance. People go out and it’s a ton of fun, but it’s not overbearing by any stretch of the imagination. For the most part, everybody takes school pretty seriously so it’s totally socially acceptable to take a night off if you need to.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends through the College Park Scholars Program freshman year and the rest of them through my fraternity.
What is the impact of Greek life on the social scene?
It definitely enhances it. If you’re content with how freshman year went, you have a really solid group of friends and none of you want to do Greek life, then don’t force it. But if you want more and interested in more social life, which I was, then you need to do Greek life because otherwise, I think you’d be pretty bored.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Maryland?
It’s pretty good honestly. When I was looking at schools I went to a bunch of other big schools and I had the most fun at Maryland. Even now when I visit other schools I always look at Maryland as my favorite. Maryland’s great because you can have the experience of having a ton of people packed into a single area and it’s a really fun time, but it also has a lot of opportunities for you to have more intimate social stuff. For example, if you’re in a fraternity you have one-on-one socials with sororities. It’s a good mix of having that big school experience but also making those relationships socially.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they mix really well, but I’m not coming from the position empathy since I’m in a fraternity that is majority White and [everyone in the fraternity is straight]. There are Black fraternities and sororities that have a pretty big presence. From a numbers perspective, the school is pretty diverse. [About 50% of students are White.] As far as sexual orientation, I can’t really speak to whether people feel like they’re accepted here or not. It’s such a big school there are so many places to find a way to fit in that I could only imagine that it would be a good place to be a person of a different sexual orientation.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Maryland by senior year?
Yeah, I definitely think so. There are people from Maryland and only came here for the in-state tuition and kind of never gave it a chance in the first place. I find those people to not really be thrilled by the time they leave. I feel that anybody who willingly came here not just because of finances leaves extremely happy. All of my friends who were seniors were super sad to go and I’m going to be extremely sad to go.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, the Maryland alumni network has helped me a lot. The thing that’s helped me the most is my fraternity’s alumni network. I didn’t get my current internship through my fraternity but a lot of the options I did get would not have been possible without the help of people in my fraternity. The business school is insane. You get so many opportunities to interview with big firms and there are so many people who come to campus to the business school. If you’re a business major, it’s a really, really good place.
How helpful is the career center?
The Smith career office is really helpful, but the career center for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, which the Government major is in, it’s not helpful at all.
Have you learned any computer programs or soft skills that will be helpful to you professionally?
For the Scholars Program, a lot of it was public speaking and that already has helped me a lot professionally. Then I feel like a lot of my Government classes have helped me professionally because you have to write papers of debate and clearly articulate your points. I haven’t taken the classes that focus on Excel yet. There are classes that focus on a lot of that, but I have been lazy and put them off to my senior year.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Maryland before entering as a freshman?
I wish that I knew more about financing my loans as an out of state student. It’s a pretty expensive school out of state relatively speaking. They don’t have a lot of help for financial aid because the vast majority of students are in-state, and in-state is such a good price that financial aid is not a big issue for a lot of people. I wish I knew that they weren’t going to help me that much with financial aid. I wish I was more independent with it. [In Fall 2018, about 75% of undergraduates were in-state students.]
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They don’t take them into Cole Field House. Right now, it’s heavily under construction, but that is where the new football facility is going to be and there are going to be a bunch of classrooms. It’s going to be absolutely amazing. They’ll probably show you the outside, but you can get in if you go individually. I’d also walk around Old Town [College Park], like where fraternity row is, for no other reason that it gives you a good feeling about what kind of school it’s going to be.
Reasons to attend Maryland:
1) If you’re a business student it’s an amazing opportunity. If you’re in business and you get a good [financial package], I wouldn’t look anywhere else.
2) If you’re interested in good sports teams and having a big school feel, I would suggest going here. We’re in the Big 10 and, even though out basketball and football teams aren’t always great, they are a ton of fun to go to and nobody takes it too seriously.
3) If you’re interested in being near a big city but not in a big city I would come here because you are close to D.C. and Baltimore.
Reasons to not attend Maryland:
1) If you’re looking for a place where Greek life isn’t a big deal, I wouldn’t come here. I know the percentages say otherwise, but everybody who I knew who was really social and interested in going out freshman year is now in Greek life. If you’re interested in having a really strong social life and not being in Greek life, I wouldn’t recommend coming here. [About 17% of students are involved in Greek life.]
2) If you’re out of state and you don’t have any financial aid whatsoever and you don’t really know what you want to do, I wouldn’t recommend coming here because they aren’t very good with financial aid or helping you choose a major. [In Fall 2018, total cost for out of state residents was about $51,500.]
3) If you want guaranteed housing for more than a year, don’t come here. You will have to go house hunting and live in an apartment after that. [About 60% of undergraduates live off-campus.]