Washington University in St. Louis
BackgroundInterview Date:Summer 2018
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: I went to a private all-boys school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 90 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Minors: Biomedical Physics and Finance
Extracurricular Activities: I do Books and Basketball where we play basketball with little kids and tutor them, and I’m in Greek life.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Greek life does. It’s a huge time commitment. I also have an [executive board position], so I spend a lot of time doing that. It also gave me a really good group of guys to hang out with. A lot of my best friends are in the frat.
What is your weekly coursework for your major like?
It’s not as much homework that you have to finish as you have to study and go over your notes. The teachers expect you to study more on your own time. You should be studying every day no matter what and doing the readings. There’s a lot of homework that they don’t really assign but they expect you to do.
What are your major graded assignments?
[In my last class] there were three exams, but you got to drop one. So, two of the exams were during the year and they really mattered, and then there was a final. We also had weekly quizzes throughout the semester.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
Wash U’s Chemistry department is amazing. I came in not know what I wanted to do, and then two weeks in we had a lecture on physical chemistry, and ever since then, that’s been what I want to do. Since Wash U has one of the best-known medical schools, the Biology and Chemistry departments are both phenomenal.
Can you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s competitive only because the people who go there are naturally competitive. It’s not competitive enough where you’re not going to show your answers or help people out. A lot of the time before an exam you find people cramming together. If someone needs help, people will help them out. At the same time, it’s a good school and it’s rigorous, so people are definitely in it for the friendly academic competition.
Can you describe the level of academic honesty you’ve experienced?
We have to sign all these things that say we don’t cheat. I know some people do, but I don’t. I know some people who have gotten away with [cheating on exams], and I know some people who have gotten in serious trouble. I wouldn’t say many people do it. Some do and even fewer get away with it. Like any school, it’s a big deal here.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: South 40, which where most of the freshmen and some sophomores live. I lived in Lee Hall in a triple. There are modern and traditional buildings, so I got [screwed] and got a traditional building. It wasn’t the best living situation. If you get a modern building it’s much better.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
The area we’re in is very nice, but St. Louis is not a great city. I walk around campus at 4 o’clock in the morning all the time and feel absolutely safe. Even a mile off campus I’d feel perfectly fine, but as you get in the city at night [you have to be careful]. I don’t like being in the city at night alone, but I think that’s really reasonable. As far as on and around campus, it’s completely fine.
Favorite off-campus restaurant?
Mission Taco, it’s a really cool taco place where you pick four or five tacos because they’re small and they’re delicious.
Favorite place to get away from campus?
Forest Park, which is right next to campus. When it finally becomes warm everybody goes out there.
Pros and cons of being in the Clayton neighborhood of St. Louis, MO?
Pros: (1) You can feel safe no matter where you are.
(2) It’s beautiful. The houses off campus are really cool and look nice.
(3) There is also a lot of hometown pride, so if you want to get a job in St. Louis or the Midwest. Wash U is one of the best schools in the Midwest, so it is really easy to get a job there.
Cons: It’s really nice, so off-campus parties are like nonexistent because a lot of the residents are older, upper-class people that don’t want loud noises. [Median property value in Clayton is $577,300.]
What kind of nightlife do you participate in at Wash U?
Mostly Greek life stuff. As a freshman this year, during the first semester it was kind of hard to go out without going to another person’s dorm. I joined Greek life, which is awesome. We usually have a mixer on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and there’s always something going on with our house. The nightlife is fun. It’s there if you want it, but if you don’t you can just chill.
Do freshman boys have trouble getting into parties?
You really have to know someone. I was fortunate enough to know someone in a fraternity, so he got me into some stuff. I didn’t really have a problem, but I know some of my friends didn’t even try to go out because they didn’t want to get rejected. We had dorm parties sometimes where you have friends over and hang. During second semester, parties were a lot more available because I was in a fraternity, my friends were in fraternities, and my girlfriends were in sororities.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
I think it’s there. I think it’s pretty hard to go to an organized party without being in Greek life unless you’re an athlete. Greek life has mixers and parties, but sports teams also have those. Without being in Greek life, you can still be invited to parties by your friends who are in Greek life, but it is a little harder to make that connection. Also, a lot of fraternities are stricter about who they let in because the administration is not a huge fan of it. It’s getting harder and harder to go to Greek parties if you’re not in the house.
What have been your favorite days or nights at Wash U?
Hands down my favorite times were when we had WILD. Once a semester the administration brings in someone to have a concert. There’s a big day party until the concert, and there are parties after. It’s right before exams, so it’s a nice way to relax before the storm. Also, I went to a Cardinals game which was a really cool experience. St. Louis sports are pretty cool.
How happy are you with the nightlife options at Wash U?
I’m having a good time. It’s not a big party school where people go out every night. It’s Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, which is just enough so that you’re bored but not too much so that your grades are slipping. The one aspect of student life that [I don’t like] is there is not a ton of school spirit. Sports games are not as fun here as they are at other schools. That’s the one thing I would say Wash U could do better in, everything else is great.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My closest friends were my roommates. Other than that, my fraternity brothers are my best friends.
How would you describe the social scene?
I think there are those who want to go out and drink and stuff and those who don’t, and no one judges anyone because of that. My roommates didn’t love to go out so they would stay in and play video games, but I would go out, and there weren’t any hard feelings. You know what group everyone is in because you’ll see the same people go out Friday and Saturday nights. That separates those who want to go out and those who don’t.
What is the impact of Greek life on social life?
I’d say it’s pretty big. [About 35% of students are in Greek life.] I would say about 40% of the school doesn’t want to go out, and the other 60% does and want to get involved in Greek life [or are friends with people in Greek life].
Do you feel that people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Yeah, 100%. It’s been kind of eye-opening to me to see so many people interact in so many different ways. It seems very normal, and people don’t notice it. For example, my pledge class had 25 people and one was from Iraq, one was from Iran, one person was from Australia, we had two gay people, and five Black people. It was so many different people mixed into one really close-knit group, and it’s a perfect example of the school. Nobody cares where you’re from or who you like.
How would you describe the student body?
The student body is academically driven. Everyone is at a good college because they want to do well and they push themselves to do that. There are people who I know who like to go out. I’d describe them as nerdy, but not book nerds, everyone has that thing they’re very nerdy and passionate about, for me it’s chemistry.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
Something you wish you knew about Wash U before entering as a freshman?
I was actually really surprised by the social life and nightlife. I always thought that Wash U was a bunch of nerds who study all day, but it really surprised me. Some people are cool nerds and have the work hard play hard mentality. It was a pleasant surprise when I came to campus.
Something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There’s a place called The Village that is for sophomore housing. It’s kind of out of the way, so they don’t take tours there, but it’s a really cool building. It’s a really beautiful side of campus and is secluded which is nice.
Reasons to attend Wash U:
1) It’s a really good school. It’s academically very rigorous and, if you put in the work, it will set you up to do well in life.
2) Everyone is nerdy about one thing, and if you know what you’re nerdy in you’ll find somebody who is just as nerdy about that thing as you are.
3) The professors are great. They’re really approachable.
Reasons to not attend Wash U:
1) School spirit in terms of sports is not there. People don’t really go to football games or other teams’ games.
2) Some intro classes, like General Chemistry, Intro to Biology, and Intro to Psychology, are huge. They’re definitely lecture based. That was one of the reasons I was thinking about not coming, but they’re really not that bad.