BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: I went to a private Catholic high school in Chicago with a graduating class of about 325 students
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Undeclared, intending to do Architecture
Extracurricular Activities: I primarily do stuff with theater at Yale, so scene design and construction work. Other than that, I work in our residential college’s Buttery where we sell cheap, unhealthy food from 10PM to 1AM.
Did any of your extracurriculars have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I started working in the Buttery at the beginning of my freshman year and that was a great way to get to know people in my college. It’s right in the basement of our dorm, so it was really cool to serve people in that way. It’s also very refreshing to do some work outside of schoolwork and the typical college life.
What was your favorite class last year?
American Architecture and Urbanism, it was a very general survey of American architecture starting with early American cultures, like the Pueblos, Mayan, Aztecs, and ending in the High Line in New York City, so it covered a lot of ground. The professor was really interesting and a fantastic lecturer.
What was your least favorite class last year?
Calculus 112, which I had to take for my intended major. It was bad because it was a repeat of things that I had done in high school. For whatever reason I was placed in that class and it was not enjoyable in any means.
Is there anything you feel the Architecture department does especially well or poorly?
It’s a little different than most undergraduate architecture schools because it’s a four-year program. I will need to go to graduate school and get a master’s degree, which I knew going into the program, but I decided I wanted to be able to explore other things. That’s one of the things of the things I find really great about Yale is the liberal arts curriculum. You are totally free to explore whatever you want to explore.
Is there anything you felt Yale did especially well or poorly in your freshman year?
I think the classes are really great. I also think the residential college system is one of the hallmarks of the university. They hype it up a lot and I think it’s definitely worth it. I really enjoyed being a part of that community. It’s funny that it’s a totally random assignment who is in your residential college, but all those people in your college are going to be your best friends.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
Yale is competitive in the sense that everybody is really, really good at something. Even if you brand one guy as “the frat guy,” they may be really good at chemistry or something. I think it’s very collaborative as well. Everybody has that competitive edge because they are so talented, but people are so supportive. I’ve never known anybody to backstab academically. I think people are actually interested in learning there and it’s a positive and friendly environment.
How accessible are your professors?
I chose a lot of seminars first semester and lectures second semester. It was unintentional but it was an interesting contrast. First semester my professors overall were pretty good, there wasn’t any one professor who I thought was really great. They were all very engaging and interested in teaching and meeting with undergraduates. Second semester I took primarily lectures and, with nearly all of my professors, I was blown away by their level of scholarship, their level of professionalism, and also their commitment to the subject matter. I haven’t met a professor who didn’t have the time of day for me. There are so many iconic people there and they are really great.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
I’m in Timothy Dwight College.
Freshman: I lived in the college. The dorms are unique at Yale because we have an entryway system. I lived in a suite with three other people and we shared a common room. There were only 18 other people living on my floor, so it doesn’t exactly feel like that classic college dorm experience.
Sophomore: I’ll be living in the college again with different roommates in a different entryway. You’re guaranteed four years of housing in the college if you want. It’s nice because there isn’t a lot of mystery when it comes to the housing draw.
How was transitioning from Chicago to New Haven?
I have a lot of family in Connecticut and they live close to campus, so I could go over there for dinner sometimes. I lived in the suburbs of Chicago and I felt that it was different than being right in the city, because you are right in New Haven. That wasn’t really much of an adjustment. Culture-wise the East Coast is a little different than the Midwest, but I think it’s more or less the same. It wasn’t that much of an adjustment for me.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Yorkside Pizza’s really good and Frank Pepe’s pizza is really good. I didn’t try as many restaurants as I would have liked to because I think a lot of freshmen year a lot of people want to eat in the dining hall and not spend the extra money.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I mean I haven’t really explored New Haven as much as I would have liked to. Everything is sort of contained at Yale. You feel like you’re part of a city, but sometimes it can be hard to get out of that New Haven-Yale area.
Pros and Cons of being in New Haven, CT?
Pros: (1) You’re very close to New York City, it’s a relatively short train ride there.
(2) It’s a really great sized city. I love the size.
(3) The culture of the city. It’s a colonial city and they still have a strong connection to that colonial heritage I feel.
Cons: People say New Haven is unsafe, but I’ve never felt that. There are some times when you feel that you go to school in the middle of the city. I can’t really think of many cons. There aren’t as many amenities as you’d find in New York or Chicago.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
In high school I didn’t go out much at all, but in college I’ve gone out a bit. There’s a wide spectrum of social life at Yale. For example, my roommate didn’t participate in any social activities at all and there are people that go out every weekend. I’m happy to stay in and watch a movie and I’m also happy to go to a frat or go to a big party. Generally, things are pretty open, so neither myself or anybody that I know has had trouble getting into a frat party or something like that.
What have been some of your favorite times at Yale?
The Yale-Harvard football game was a highlight for sure. Friends’ birthday parties are really fun. Going out to get pizza with friends is really fun. Also, the dances are really fun. There is a social dance for the people in the residential college, so just the people in your college, and then there is one for all the first years.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Honestly, there is not a ton [I would change]. I think there are some people who are very pessimistic about fraternities. I think there are a lot of people that are unhappy with the fact that there are frats at Yale, but I personally don’t take much of an issue with them. I’ve only gone to a couple of frats in all honesty, and it’s definitely more of an underclassman thing. Juniors and Seniors aren’t really that involved with frats. The underclassmen do have a big role to play in the frats and the social life, and that is partially because of the secret societies you get into when you’re a senior and those take up a lot of time. The underclassmen are definitely more involved in the social life at Yale than they are at other schools I think.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my residential college. Some of the people I am closest to I lived across the hall from or worked with in the Buttery. Outside of my college, I met my friends through classes or shared interests in architecture.
How would you describe the social scene?
I think people like to be really busy. I think that can be addictive to a lot of people, I know it is for me. I think there is a little bit of a competitive nature about being like, “I have a completely full Google calendar. What are you doing today?” So, there is that edge to the social life. So, I think I would describe it as competitive, but I also think people know how to have fun.
To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Coming from a primarily white Catholic school, it was a really positive thing for me to get to know all sorts of diverse groups of people from all over the world and all sort of different backgrounds. I’m so glad that I chose a school where all sorts of different backgrounds are welcome. I feel like I’ve learned so much this year about different cultures and societies that I would have not learned otherwise. It was also great to learn about people of different religions as well.
How would you describe the student body?
There are people really from all over the place. Everyone is good at something, and that can be a little intimidating at times but you have to remind yourself that you’re there for a reason. People are really talented and interested in learning. People like to keep really busy, and especially during finals season there’s this nature of who’s the most stressed out. I try not to partake in it but it shows how committed people are to their grades.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Yale before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that it is just as good as it’s cracked up to be, which sounds really egotistical, but I’ve found that to be the case. It’s really a great place and there’s a reason it has the reputation it has. I also wish I would have known that everyone is just as normal as you think you are. People present themselves as the next Bill Gates, but they really have the same sort of concerns and issues that you have.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Try to get into a residential college courtyard, which is something [you’ll have to get a Yale student to scan you in to]. The courtyards of residential colleges are some of the greatest spaces at Yale, especially on a warm day. You’ll find people playing soccer, reading, hanging out, doing homework, etc. To me, if you take a look into a residential college courtyard you get a feel for what Yale is all about.
Reasons to attend Yale:
1) The residential colleges
2) To be a part of a community of people who are devoted to scholarship and intellectual pursuits
3) The opportunities and the doors that Yale will open for you. If you make the most of it you are really in a very good place. If you’re lucky enough to be admitted, you’ll have so many opportunities open to you and I’m just starting to get a grasp of that myself.