Washington University in St. Louis
BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2018
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: I went to a public school in Cupertino, CA with a graduating class of about 600 students. There was definitely a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biology, I’m premed
Minors: German and Writing
Extracurricular Activities: I’m on the Wash U Figure Skating team and I’m in Wash U’s Asian American Association. I’m in a sorority.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The figure skating team definitely did because I didn’t know Wash U would have a figure skating team. I heard that it was canceled when I came to campus. Figure skating has been a part of my life since elementary school, so it’s been a good experience for me.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Biology?
There were a lot of labs and problem sets the first two years, but now that I’m a junior we have less weekly labs. We do have to take an advanced lab eventually, but that will be senior year.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
My experience in Bio 2960 and Bio 2970 were really different. I really enjoyed 2970 because I felt the lectures weren’t just about notetaking, whereas 2960 was just reading off a PowerPoint. I felt the professors [in 2970] were a little more responsible for making sure that we were getting the material.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very collaborative. Friends will study with each other.
Least Favorite class in your major?
Favorite class in your major?
Physiological Control Systems, but if that doesn’t count as biology then Cell Biology.
How accessible have your professors been?
They were pretty accessible, especially in Physiological Control Systems and Cell Biology. I do think when the class size gets smaller it’s easier to schedule a time to talk to your professors. I could definitely go into office hours whenever I wanted.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m very happy with my choice. I came in as a chemistry major and I took Organic Chemistry at Wash U over the summer, and that was a really difficult experience. After that I changed to Biology, so both of them work out for me.
What kind of nightlife do you like to participate in Wash U?
Sometimes me and my friends like to go out to some bars like [Three Kings] or El Maguey and stuff like that. Or, we go out to frat row if there’s a party. Otherwise, I would probably just stay in and study.
What have been some of your favorite times at Wash U?
I can’t think of a specific night, but I do think that any time I’m together with my friends and we’re going out together is a fun night for me. Mardi Gras my freshman year was really fun, even though it was so cold it was wonderful.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I think it makes it slightly easier to be aware of what’s going on, or if there are parties or gatherings and things like that. I don’t think it’s necessary to have a fun time at Wash U. I feel like I have a lot of friends that go to the same things that I do who are not in Greek life and are enjoying their time at Wash U.
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
There are not as many options as there are in some schools in terms of what is around Wash U in general. You can only go to so many frat parties a week.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Umrath with one roommate
Sophomore: South 40 House in a suite of four single rooms
Junior: I’m living off campus
What was your favorite living situation?
Definitely Umrath with one roommate. I liked having my own room my sophomore year, but I was just so much closer to my roommate my freshman year that our experience as really fun.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt unsafe within Wash U’s vicinity. Outside of campus, there are parts where I wouldn’t stray to if it got deeper into the night. I have had friends who have had bad encounters, but I haven’t.
How was transitioning from Cupertino to St. Louis?
I was kind of scared because I’d never been that far east before. St. Louis has seasons and a lot more variation in weather, which I like. In terms of people, Wash U has more diversity than my high school, and I do like that there is more diversity around this area. [The undergraduate population of 7,715 is 8% Hispanic, 30% Black or African American, and 51% White].
Favorite off-campus restaurant?
Salt and Smoke, I’ve been really craving barbecue.
Favorite place to get away from campus?
Anywhere in Central West End
Pros and Cons of being in St. Louis, MO?
1) Public transportation. I really appreciate that Wash U gives us a pass for free and you can go downtown whenever you want with that taking one train.
2) There are a lot more restaurants and things to explore than it at first appears. I like going to the Galleria [Mall.]
1) If you did want to go hiking it is a little less accessible.
2) It feels a little bit less safe than back home. I do have to be more conscious of locking doors and things like that.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My best friend I met during pre-orientation. We’re both from the Bay Area and she Facebook messaged me before, so we kind of hit it off from there. I met my other close friends through Greek life or through clubs on campus.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s definitely a lot more low-key. If people are looking for a really [exciting] social scene, Wash U might not be what they’re looking for. We don’t really have a huge sports culture. I do think it’s nice for it to be more low-key because if you do want to stay in for a night or leave early it’s really easy to do so. There isn’t as much peer pressure so to say.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s difficult to say. I do notice that people of the same race tend to stick together more, particularly minority groups.
What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
I think it’s been a wonderful experience and it’s worth it if the student has the time and money for it. I met so many of my friends that I probably would not have met through Greek life and it allows me to be around those people more often. You have more casual opportunities to get to know people better. It does make it easier to be aware of what’s going on but is not a necessary part of enjoying the experience.
How would you describe the student body?
I think most people are from California, Chicago, and New York, and are scattered around. Many are from affluent families, Wash U has [22% (as of 2017)] of students in the 1%. But, it’s not something that people judge each other for. There are more people than I expected that are involved in the music and the arts. There is a huge acapella presence. Some students like to go out a lot, I have friends who would go out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday if they could.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
Something you wish you knew about Wash U before entering as a freshman?
Reading Week is pretty much only three days. When I came in I thought we would have a longer time to prepare for finals.
Something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Bauer Hall, it has beautiful modern architecture. There’s a café in there so it’s nice.
Reasons to attend Wash U:
1) It’s really amazing in terms of academics. Olin Business School gets recognition and also pre-med. There’s a med school right nearby so students can get research opportunities. [See other Wash U rankings here.]
2) There are many opportunities.
3) The collaborative atmosphere is something I really admire about Wash U. Everyone is very helpful, so you never feel alone.