Washington University in St. Louis
BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2018
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: I went to a private boarding school in New Hampshire with a graduating class of about 300 students. I’m from Seoul, South Korea.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biomedical Engineering (BME)
Extracurricular Activities: I am in the Engineering Honors Society and the Biomedical Engineering Honors Society
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I’m in them mostly because of my GPA. I was recently invited into them, so there haven’t been many opportunities for me to participate in activities. There will be more participation this upcoming year.
What is your weekly coursework like for your major?
It depends on which semester you’re in because the required courses will be different for each semester. Generally, if you’re taking a Biomedical Engineering (BME) core class, you should expect weekly problem sets. From my experience, most of the classes had one midterm and one final. There are some classes with lab components. Most students take these classes during the sophomore spring semester and [both semesters] junior year.
Favorite class in your major?
Quantitative Physiology 1.
Least favorite in your major?
Is there anything you feel the Biomedical Engineering department does especially well or poorly?
I think it can improve in terms of having more reasonable expectations from students. Sometimes they just expect too much. I think they expect students to achieve a lot within a short period. Besides that, I think they try to have a lot of resources available for the students.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would say it’s more collaborative than competitive. In general, the school has a lot of groups and resources that students can utilize, like problem-solving groups, recitation sections, or tutoring programs, so it’s more collaborative.
How accessible have your professors been?
They have been pretty accessible. I personally didn’t go to office hours a lot, but I know that professors offer them at least once or twice a week. Some students go regularly.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
Going into college, I was considering pre-med and the topic of biomedical engineering tied into my interests at the time because of the engineering and medical aspects of it. Although I have moved away from the pre-med aspect of it, I am still enjoying biomedical engineering.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
The International Office has been really helpful for the basic stuff, like getting the I-20 or getting CPT authorization. They also host a lot of events for international students, some are exploring St. Louis or getting help finding jobs in the US as an international student. There are a lot of resources there.
What kind of nightlife do you like to participate in?
I don’t particularly participate in a lot of nightlife. I usually spend all my time doing homework because there is a lot of work for Biomedical Engineering.
What kind of things do you like to do with your friends for a relaxed night?
We like to go out to have dinner. There are a lot of restaurants on The Loop near Wash U.
What have been some of your favorite times at Wash U?
When I am doing labs for a class and something works as expected. Those would be my favorite times because it doesn’t really happen that often.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I was in a modern residential college in the South 40. I shared a triple room.
Sophomore: The Village in a two-bedroom suite, we both had single bedrooms.
Junior & Senior: The Lofts in a single
What has been your favorite living situation?
I would say the Lofts if you are okay living a little off campus. It’s on The Loop, so there are a lot of restaurants. The building is also one of the newest dorm buildings at Wash U, so the facility is pretty good. If you prefer to be on campus, I’d say The Village is a good option. The South 40 area seems to be more geared toward freshmen.
Has there been anything that’s surprised you about Wash U or American college in general?
I don’t think anything was particularly surprising. I just didn’t know what to expect when I was coming to St. Louis because I’ve never been to this part of the country. I would say the weather is pretty unpredictable sometimes.
How was transitioning from your school in New Hampshire to St. Louis?
Since I was already in boarding school, I didn’t have that much of a change when transitioning to college. The location was a bit different. I was used to being close to the coast and mountains, and then moved to the Midwest where there aren’t many mountains.
Pros and Cons of being in St. Louis, MO?
Pros: St. Louis has tried to invest in entrepreneurship a lot, so if you’re into that [there are opportunities].
Cons: As an international student, it’s hard to find flights here sometimes because I have to connect somewhere.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Mostly through classes that we took together, so attending lectures, doing homework, and studying for tests.
How would you describe the social scene?
I think it really depends on what activities you participate in. I’ve heard that a lot of people stay together with people from their freshman dorm. People in different student activities [are friends], like music groups, sports teams, and clubs. Those people spend a lot of time together. Then naturally people in Greek life or people in a certain school will have a lot of activities together.
To what extent do you think international students mix with domestic students?
I think domestic students are open to international students. As long as the international students are willing to reach out and hang out with other people, they all get along together.[The undergraduate population of 7,715 is 8% Hispanic, 30% Black or African American, and 51% White].
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
So far not that much, because I haven’t really tapped into the alumni network. I have participated in a couple of career center events, and there were a lot of alumni that came back to mentor the students or give them advice.
How helpful has the career office been?
It has been pretty helpful and there have different events. The career fair and STEM Slam, which is a career fair specifically for STEM companies has been useful. They also have the [Engineering Mentor Program.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
Something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go to check out the different classes you can take and get an idea of what the workload is going to be like for different classes.
Something a prospective international student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
The international office is pretty helpful. There are a lot of cultural student groups so you can participate in them, but sometimes try to step outside of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in the college experience.
Reasons to attend Wash U:
1) The business school and medical school are good if you’re interested in those fields.
2) They are doing major construction for the engineering and art school right now, also a couple of the admissions office and those things, so the school is investing a lot into academics.
3) The collaborative nature and the school encouraging students to seek help and help each other. Those are advantages of Wash U.
Reasons to not attend Wash U:
1) Being in the Midwest, if you’re not comfortable with that.
2) Being in St. Louis. If you’re more of a big city person you might not find what you like here.
3) The summer can be really humid and hot, so it’s not very comfortable if you’re taking summer classes or doing an internship during the summer.