BackgroundInterview Date:October 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Lancaster, PA with a graduating class of about 300 students. About half the people went into blue collar jobs or agriculture and the other half went to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in Student Government and the Student Environmental Alliance.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Definitely the student government. It’s a large time commitment and is an influential on campus because it controls a lot of the events that happen. Also, being involved in campus in general has an impact since our school is pretty small and rural. If you’re involved you put a lot of your time into organizing events for the whole campus to engage in.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Biology classes require a lot of preparation for each class because typically you will have a lecture and you’re required to do outside reading or small quiz before class. Most Biology classes have a lab associated with it, which is 2-3 extra hours a week. Chemistry classes are the same, but they are more quantitative.
What are your major graded assignments?
Exams and written lab reports.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s competitive, but it’s collaborative within your friendships because you support each other. People are competitive because they want to do well for themselves. If you take multiple classes in a department, you grow with your peers and as you get to know people it becomes easier to collaborate.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The Biology department has certain professors who specialize in certain topics. They do a really good job in allowing students to take part in research. Depending on what your interests are, there will likely be a person in the department who you can get close to and work with.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
I chose Biology because I thought it would give me the most movement within the sciences. Biology makes you take certain Chemistry courses and a diverse amount of Biology courses. I’m happy with it. It’s pretty rigorous and the standards are pretty high, but I think in general I’m happy.
On and Around Campus
Where have you live on campus?
Freshman: Kent House with one roommate.
Sophomore: West Hall, which is an older dorm. I have a single room.
What has been your favorite living situation so far?
So far, I prefer West Hall. Any upperclassmen dorm will be better than freshmen housing.
How was transitioning from Lancaster, PA to Chestertown, MD?
Both are pretty rural, but rural in different ways. Lancaster is rural but things are more densely populated and less spread out. It was easy for me to go shopping or go out to eat, I would just have to travel a bit. In Chestertown it is a bit harder to do things or have social life off campus, unless I’m going to travel to Annapolis, Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia. It’s been alright, but you just have to get used to being on campus and that being where most of your social interactions are.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Campus is pretty safe. Public safety does a good job of patrolling. There have lately been concerns about the safety of Chestertown as there has been an increase in small crimes around town, but I think that it’s not as much of a concern as people might say it is. It’s just a hot topic because it’s a small rural school.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Café Sado for sushi. It’s popular because it’s pretty inexpensive and there aren’t many places in Chestertown to go out for a dinner.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
My friends and I will go to Annapolis to the mall or go out to eat. It’s not too far, but it’s a decent distance so you feel like you’re far away.
Pros and Cons of being in Chestertown, MD?
Pros: (1) It’s a good setting to be focused on academics because there aren’t too many distractions.
(2) We have the Chester River and you can rent kayaks and do other water recreation activities.
(3) We have a good amount of wild land that people do research with. We have the River and Field Campus which is a good lab resource.
Cons: (1) It’s pretty desolate. If you travel 5 minutes outside of the town it’s mostly agricultural farmland.
(2) It can be isolating because you’re trapped on campus.
(3) Chestertown has a couple of stores and coffee shops that are nice when they’re open, but they close really early.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Washington College?
If I go out with my friends, there are usually parties going on Friday and Saturday nights. Thursdays there are normally social gatherings in peoples’ houses or dorms with people hanging out with friends. Friday and Saturday nights frats may have something going on. It’s pretty easy to get to know the frat guys and they’re pretty welcoming and just want to have a good time. There are also three bars in town people go to after parties.
Can you describe a typical night going out your freshman year?
Freshman year me and my friends went to frat parties that were open or we’d hang out with each other and socialize with a group of friends. It’s not too hard to find things to do. Freshman year you don’t typically go to the bars because you aren’t 21. Most freshmen don’t have a hard time getting into parties. People are pretty welcoming. I think if people are just having a smaller event and don’t want people who aren’t in their social group to come they won’t invite lots of people.
What have been some of your favorite times at Washington College?
Birthday Ball, which is a formal dance that’s put on by the school. They soup it up to make it seem like a nightclub. Some other fun things to do is just go out on the weekends. Saturdays are normally pretty fun.
Has being a person who identifies as LGBT influenced your social experience?
I don’t think so. I think most people don’t care that I’m gay or they don’t think about it and it doesn’t impact when I go out.
How happy were you with the nightlife options at Washington College?
I’m content with the nightlife. I think that if we had more bars in town that it would be better because the bars that we do have tend to get pretty packed. In general, the things I would change have to do with the fact that Chestertown is pretty small and rural. You won’t get the same experience here if you went to a school in the city because there aren’t many bars or parties happening on a given night.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met some of them through other friends. I met some of them in class. Also, I would just see them around and then we’d talk and get to know each other.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s alright. Most people are able to find a group of friends that they can get close with. Some aspects are a little cliquey. There is a big difference between the athletes and non-athletes, but it’s not a big deal. It’s just the athletes tend to only hang out with their teams. Other than that, Greek life is pretty inviting and everyone is pretty happy with each other on campus.
How would you describe the student body?
Pretty happy. People tend to be really academic and focused on school. In general, I think people can get pretty stressed easily. I think people view going to WAC as four years between high school and real life, so a lot of people want to succeed and people are pushing themselves to graduate and go to grad school or get good jobs. People also create some pretty tight-knit friends here.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I don’t think there is anything that discourages people from intermingling. I think people of the same race tend to stick together just because they have common experiences and culture. There is nothing that would make them not want to intermingle. International students tend to be seclusive since some of them have a language barrier, but most international students here are kind and inviting.
How was transitioning to a school that has about 1,500 undergraduates?
It was easy. I think sometimes I forget that I’m in college because it is so similar to high school. Sometimes it’s frustrating because I wish the school would be a little bigger or have new faces, but at the end of the semester when the schedule changes or when new freshmen come in the people get mixed up.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating has the office been to your needs?
Most people at WAC get financial aid. [About 85% of the student body receives some form of need-based financial aid or merit-based scholarship award.] I think it’s pretty accommodating. I’ve never asked for anything from them specifically. I think the office is pretty generous.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Washington College before entering as a freshman?
The LGBT population here isn’t the largest. If someone identifies as LGBT and their goal in college is to gain experience with relationships, I don’t think that WAC is very conducive to that because the number of students is pretty low and the ratio of LGBT students is very low. My goal was never to have a relationship in college, but if someone was making that their goal they might want to know that. I don’t want to discourage LGBT students from coming because WAC is supportive and we are a small community. They just need to know what their intentions are because I think anyone can be happy here.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
Check out the Chester River and the new boathouse because that has a lot of resources for people who are interested in recreational water sports or water research. The new boathouse is a great resource because there are 2-3 boats that people can take out. Also look at the classroom spaces because I think that some people expect college classes to be a lot different from high school, but classes here are 12-20 students. [The average class size is 17 students.]
Reasons to attend WAC:
1) The academics are great and a degree from WAC is pretty prestigious and looks good.
2) The professors are accommodating and want to help you succeed. You can gain pretty personal relationships with your professors because classes are small and there are opportunities to work with them.
3) It’s aesthetically nice to go here. There is lots of nice scenery.
Reasons to not attend WAC:
1) It’s a small school, so the social side of it is not difficult but it is much different than that of a large school.
2) Chestertown is small and after 5PM there is not a ton to do besides get fast food.
3) Chestertown is pretty far from any populated area.
4) In general, if you don’t have a car it can be difficult. If you don’t have a lot of time to get somewhere or the weather is bad you need a car to get into town.
Overall, I think WAC is a great place to get your degree. It’s not a place where people make crazy college memories. It’s more where people will learn a lot and form really important relationships with friends that will last a lifetime.