An Interview On
Union College

Background

Interview Date:August 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White
Graduation Year: 2019
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public high school north of Chicago with about 1,050 students in the graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biology and Physics as an interdisciplinary major. It’s not a double major, it’s about one and a half majors. I’m also in the Pre-Med track.
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a student-athlete and I was part of Greek life but am not anymore.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It is mainly readings and labs.

What are your major graded assignments?
Exams and lab reports.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
My interdisciplinary major is a self-made major. I like that you can combine all the major topics you’re interested in.

Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it is particularly competitive or collaborative?
It is competitive, but there is also a lot of interaction between the students and the professors. It is a small school and they are open for office hours if you need help. It’s easy to work with others on group assignments and they even encourage working together for individual assignments to get your work done. It is also competitive in that we are all applying to med school.

How accessible are your professors?
Very accessible. Everyone has office hours and if those don’t work are they easy to contact and schedule a personal meeting outside of their office hours.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
My favorite class was Biomedical Physics. It was interesting to see how you could apply physics to biology. It was a small class and the professor was great, which made the class more enjoyable.

What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Organic Chemistry, because it was time-consuming and the coursework was difficult.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I started as a Physics major. I didn’t know that I wanted to go into medicine, so when I did was it easy to switch to the Biology-Physics dual major. I’m happy that I chose this interdisciplinary major, it has prepared me well. I enjoy the classes and they’re interesting to me, which is better than taking general education classes that might not be of my interest.

How is it managing your coursework and your sport?
It’s manageable. During our season it gets busier and sometimes you have to miss classes, but there’s a large athlete population at the school and the professors are aware of [the problems student-athletes face]. The professors are good at working with you to make up classes or missed work.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived over the past three years?
Freshman: I lived in Richmond House, which is a dorm. I had one roommate and it was easy to meet new people on the floors in the dorm. It was a random roommate assignment, so I didn’t pick my roommate.

Sophomore: I lived in a dorm called Fox Hall and I had one direct roommate and two suitemates, so we were with four in total. We could pick our own roommates.

Junior year: I lived in my sorority house, but it was a dorm style house. I had one roommate.

Senior year: I will live next year in an on-campus house with six others.

What was your favorite place to live?
My sophomore in Fox Hall.

How was the transitioning from being north of Chicago to Schenectady?
It was easy for me. Schenectady is not the greatest town, but you figure out where you can go and can’t. Every town has its bad parts. [The crime rate in Schenectady is 46% higher than the national average.] Overall, Schenectady and the Chicago area are similar. Many Union students are similar to me and where they’re from, which made it easier. I didn’t get homesick and didn’t have a hard time.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
We have campus safety officers who are around campus. There is a gate around the entire campus but it is open and you can get in. Schenectady locals do walk through campus sometimes and Schenectady is not the best place. Overall, I feel safe on campus, but I don’t like to walk around alone at night.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I like a restaurant called Zen Asian Fusion Lounge. It’s on State Street, which is a couple of blocks away from campus. It is walking distance if you don’t have a car. We like to go and get the Mojito pitchers. There are many other restaurants on that street and it is a great street where people like to go when they are going to eat off campus.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
There’s some nature preserves around, which is nice to go to if you want to get away for a hike or a swim.

Pros and cons of being located in Schenectady?
Pros:
1) It is easy to go to New York City, which is only a 2.5-3-hour train ride away. I will visit with family and friends sometimes. It is easy to take the train because the train station is in Schenectady.

Cons:
1) The town is not great.
2) The winters are hard. It is cold and snowy.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Friday and Saturday nights there are big parties hosted by Greek life. There are off-campus parties, and sometimes during the week, there will be parties that people will go out to depending on schoolwork. Most of the time on Wednesdays there is something going on on-campus, like a house party. There is also $1 bowling on Thursday nights at the local bowling alley.

What have been some of your favorite times at Union?
It’s hard to think of one time. The $1 bowling is fun because I go there with my team, which is good team bonding.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I was part of Greek life but our sorority fell apart, so technically I’m not part of Greek life anymore, but I was in the past. Greek life is a big part of the social life at Union. There are Greek parties that are mixers between a fraternity and sorority. They are private from 9 to 11 and after 11 it is open to anybody, so even if you’re not involved in Greek life you can still go to the parties after 11:00.

How happy are you with the nightlife at Union? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with the nightlife. I didn’t know what to expect. It’s more a part of college at Union than I expected, but it’s not too crazy. You will get out what you put into it. If you want to go out all the time you can, but you can also go out half of the time and have fun.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met them on my floor during my freshman year and met others through my sports team. I met some new friends through my friends and we all became friends with each other.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Union?
It’s a big social scene and Greek life plays a big part. Greek life is a big thing on campus and it allows you to get to know a lot of people. I enjoy the social scene at Union and the people are nice.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
They mix well, but they also tend to go towards each other because they have a commonality and get along well. You see different organizations, clubs or fraternities that are associated with different races or sexual orientations and they seem to get along with everybody just as well.

What do you think that the impact of Greek life is on social life?
It helps you get more involved in social life because most of the parties are mixers or held by a fraternity. It is easier if you are involved in Greek life and you also get to know more people. Personally, getting involved in Greek life early in has affected my social life in a positive way.

How would you describe the student body?
It is a big population from the northeast coast from affluent families. [Socioeconomically, about 37% of students come from the top 5% and the median family income is $152,600.] Athletics are a big part of the social life. Most of the athletes are also involved in Greek life.

Do you think people are generally happy with Union by their senior year? Do you think people leave loving Union?
People leave loving Union. I have noticed how sad it is that people have to leave Union when they graduate or how difficult it is because the experience was so good and they have made lifelong friends.

Careers

Has the alumni network helps you find internships or jobs?
I have not gotten anything through the alumni. I have used it, looked at it, and I know people who got jobs and internships from it. It’s a large network and helpful for people.

To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
I have used the career office. During my sophomore year I did an aptitude test because I was unsure of my direction and it helped my decision. They’re also helpful with resumes, cover letters, and applications.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew before entering Union as a freshman?
I wish I knew how easy and fun it is to do things off-campus like going to restaurants or to the mall in Albany. If you are tired of being on campus it’s easy to go off-campus and find something to do.

What is something a prospective athlete should know that we haven’t touched on?
Managing school and my sport is not that difficult. We are not a Division I school where sports come before school. The coaches understand that [school is important] and the professors are aware of the athletes. It is easy to work with them and get everything done.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Check out downtown Schenectady and State Street because they will not take you off-campus. If you’re on a day-tour you will not see the social life, so if you can see that that will be fun.

Reasons to attend Union:
1) I have made my best friends and I’m going to have them for the rest of my life. It is a great place to meet people.
2) If you’re an athlete, you get four extra years of playing the sport that you love because it doesn’t continue after college.
3) The academics are great because of the smaller class sizes, so it’s more individualized and makes it a better learning environment.
4) You can easily get involved in many things and still have time for yourself and your friends because they encourage students to be involved in things on campus.

Reasons to not attend Union:
1) If you are uncomfortable in a location like Schenectady.
2) If you don’t like winter.
3) is getting more difficult to participate in Greek life and social life, but you can find your ways.

Notice: Union College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Union College.

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