BackgroundInterview Date:January 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school in Staten Island, NY with a graduating class of about 300 students. There was not a strong culture of going to college and they also provided resources for getting a job after high school.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Minor: Film Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in Squash Club, Anime Club, I’m an R.A., and I’m involved in the Christian Fellowship Community.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Definitely being an R.A. because it taught me to work together with the other R.A.’s and also find out more about the community so that I can help the residents.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
There’s a lot of reading and just trying to understand the lectures because the professors will also add their own materials and experiences, so you have to understand how they connect to the broader world. There are not that many tests, usually just a midterm and a final.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
In the early courses, I feel that they don’t do a good job of utilizing different teaching techniques. It’s mostly a lot of PowerPoints in the early classes. Later on, in the more advanced classes, the classes are seminar-style where you can read the textbook and then contribute to class. You can have a class discussion about the material and how it connects to the field of Psychology. I like that a lot better than just sitting in the class and looking at PowerPoints.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It depends on the class. I think Psychology courses are competitive where there is a limited number of spots for students. You feel like you have to be putting in the work because you’re lucky to get into the class. For bigger classes, it is a more collaborative environment and if you need help with something it is easy to form study groups.
Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Even though my major is very interdisciplinary, it can be kind of one-sided in the classroom. There’s a lot of groupthink that happens because everyone identifies as liberal, but even on that political spectrum, there’s a variety. People can feel pushed to the ultra-liberal side, and if you proposed something a little bit more conservative you’d feel some sort of backlash.
How accessible have your professors been?
They’re really easy to access. You can go to their office hours or email them and they’ll get back to you within a day or so.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose it because I have an interest in psychology and like learning about how the mind changes behavior and how it affects society in general. I like the research because I have so many questions about people and why they behave a certain way, so I wanted to explore it more.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation student? Were there any systems in place to help you adjust?
It was really difficult because the workload was a lot and I had a lot of trouble with time management. Slowly, as I made friends and went to my professors, I got a handle of it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Single in Butterfields
Sophomore: Single in Butterfields.
What was your favorite living situation?
I liked having a single because I didn’t have to deal with roommates and stuff.
How was transitioning from Staten Island to Middletown, CT?
It’s different because in New York I have a very different lifestyle than over in Connecticut. It’s more slow-paced. In Connecticut you can be more relaxed and focus on self-care and try to balance that with schoolwork.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s a high level of safety. There are just minor incidents that happen outside of campus, which the police handle really well. There’s always public safety patrolling around which gives me a sense of safety. [Both the violent crime and property crime rates in Middletown, CT are below the Connecticut median and the National Median.]
Pros and cons of being located in Middletown, CT?
1) There’s a main street nearby so if I need something I can buy it there or I can easily go off campus to relax.
2) I can play squash here. It’s very easy for me to get to squash courts.
1) The main thing is it can feel that you’re in a bubble because there’s so much stuff going on around the work, but sometimes the environment on campus can feel like you’re in paradise because nothing really goes on. You’re isolated from everything. I wish I wasn’t so sheltered because there are things I want to be involved.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I like to go to the Christian Fellowship meetings and I’m also part of the choir at church, so I will play violin with a friend of mine from the choir. I will sometimes, not all the time, go to the Anime Club and watch anime with them.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Wesleyan?
I’m pretty happy. There are a lot of different things you can do either with clubs or you can go party. There is also a substance-free club on campus that will have events on campus or do things off campus, like going bowling or to the mall.
How would you describe the social scene?
There are a lot of little groups. A lot of people have pre-formed friends and it’s kind of hard to get into those groups. For people who are not from the area, it’s a little hard to make friends. If you go out of your way to talk to people then you can make your own group.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
To a high extent because Wesleyan is very diverse and very inclusive as well. From the beginning, they have orientation and one of the things they focus on is the experiences of people of different races and sexual orientations and how they can be accepted into Wesleyan.
How would you describe the student body?
It’s very diverse. There is diversity in terms of racial and sexual identity, but I also feel more of a culture of trying to fit into the majority. I feel like the way people dress and act, they’re trying to mold into this overall White culture, which sometimes makes me feel like an outsider. But, at the same time, I also see that there are groups in the school who don’t want to conform to that. They keep their identity and try to strive in the school. [In the Class of 2022, 82% of students live outside of New England, 12% of students are international, and, including international students, 45% of students are of color.]
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Wesleyan by senior year?
With the college years, I think they are completely happy. They’ll be content with what they went through, but people will be happier with how it prepares them for real life. It’s not the type of thing where they’ll look back at Wesleyan and think they were the best years of their life.
How strong is the Hispanic community on campus?
I’d say medium because there is student representation and there’s a club on campus that focuses on Hispanic identity and puts on events to get people interested in it. But it’s not like they are the most overpowering group, they do have some impact but not a big impact.
How do you like the size of Wesleyan in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How was transitioning to a school with about [3,000] students?
The size is good, it’s not overbearing. It’s a perfect mixture because you have enough people [so that you can still meet people]. It’s not too small and it’s not too big.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful were they?
I used their website to find internships and stuff like that. I think it’s really helpful because it gives you different options based on your major, but I haven’t gone out of my way to go to the career center, which is something I’ll do next semester.
Have you learned any computer languages or software that will be helpful to you professionally?
I took a class on statistics for psychology and that was good because the professor laid out really easily how to use different programs for psychological analysis.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating has the office been to your needs?
Financial aid has been pretty good to me. I use a payment plan and the payment plan has been consistent throughout my three years. I haven’t had to go to them to ask questions, but I have heard that it’s pretty accommodating. [51% of the Class of 2022 applied for need-based aid. Wesleyan meets the full demonstrated need for students admitted.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Wesleyan before entering as a freshman?
It’s okay to explore new things but remember your core values.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
For tours, you have the option to visit a class, and I think that’s very helpful and I don’t think all prospective students take advantage of it. Based on what class you attend, the [classroom environment] is different and the professors teach differently, but I feel if they can go into the class that will help them make the decision on where they want to go.
What is something a prospective first-generation student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
They really have to go out of their comfort zone because the school isn’t going to pamper you and hold your hand. They do that to some extent, but you have to go out of your way to strive for opportunities and make friends, which will overall make them a better person.
Reasons to attend Wesleyan:
1) Wesleyan is very diverse. There are a lot of activities and lots of different types of people so you will be able to find something there. You can do things outside of Wesleyan. Even though it is a sheltering community, they encourage you to contribute back.
2) They don’t pressure you to be one specific major. You can explore what you want. With the general education requirements, you can take a lot of classes. You can also take a lot of classes based on your interests because there are a lot of unique classes. I like that they invite students to explore different types of academics.
3) The community. It’s not too big or too small. It’s the perfect size. When you go outside you still see people, but it’s not a whole crowd of people.
4) The college is pretty accommodating to different types of people and they don’t force you to follow the norms of college. There is a substance-free club that has events where you can explore Middletown without drinking.
Reasons to not attend Wesleyan:
1) There have been complaints about the president because he [has promoted an increase of conservative views on campus]. Our campus is very liberal-minded, and a lot of people complained about that.
2) As a person from New York, we like the nightlife here and like how accessible things are late at night. Here you can’t expect things to be open past 11PM.