BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Graduation Year: 2018
High School Experience: Public school in Orlando, FL with a graduating class of 880 students. There was not particularly a culture of going to college, and those who did go to college generally went to an in-state school.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Minor: They don’t have minors at Yale.
Extracurricular Activities: Athlete, fraternity, worked in the Film Center
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Socially, yes. My sports team and my fraternity both shaped my experience at Yale in helping me build friend groups and keep up a social life while doing well in my classes.
What is your weekly coursework like for your major?
My coursework was very problem set heavy throughout all four years. I would average about three a week for all my classes in a semester. I took a lot of math classes, I was going to major in math for a long time, but I switched to Economics my senior year. So, my Economics experience is different than most people because it was heavier on the math side. We also had a lot of exams.
Is there anything you feel the Economics department did especially well or poorly?
Economics is a huge major, it’s the most popular major in terms of numbers. All of our classes are relatively large. Yale likes to brag that they have really small class sizes, but those small classes are very niche. For popular majors, like Economics, I never really got that experience. All of my classes were in large lecture halls. That didn’t bother me that much because I’m not really a person that would like to go to seminars and speak. I enjoy lectures and listening. If I ever had any questions there were plenty of office hours available with multiple TA’s to ask questions, as well as the professors. [In 2015-2016, Economics was the most popular major with 13% of undergraduates majoring in it.]
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I would say it’s collaborative. Going in, I thought Yale would be competitive, but it was not at all. I almost never did a problem set alone, or basically anything alone. I always had somebody to work with.
What was your favorite class in your major?
International Economics. I took it my sophomore spring. The professor was awesome, he was actually a professor from the school of management who taught an undergrad class. Econ as a topic is very theoretical, but the way he taught this class he included a lot of real-life applications, which I felt was very different from what I had been used to.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think Yale, as a whole not just in Econ, is very one minded. It’s hard to have any sort of debate. If you have conservative values or religious values that are pushed back upon by the majority of the student body. It’s not something I ever experienced, it’s definitely a topic of discussion I’ve heard about the school a lot.
How has being a first-generation student impacted you academically? Were there resources available that helped you?
There are peer-liaisons available to help you if you needed that but I never sought them out. Looking back, I would say it was a little bit of a disadvantage going into it because I felt like a lot of the kids who came from the wealthy prep schools came to college with a plan and knew what to do to get the job or the internship they wanted by junior or senior year. I had no idea what people did after college. I didn’t know what consulting or finance was. I feel like people who have family or parents who went through education can help guide you. It was more trial and error for me finding out what I had to do in order to get where I wanted to be.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose Economics because I’m very numbers oriented and I wanted something that wasn’t heavy on writing. That’s why I initially majored in math. I loved Economics because it felt like the most applicable of all the majors at Yale. Yale is a liberal arts college, so everything is in the humanities, or when it comes to science and math it’s very theoretical. Economics was the most concrete thing I could study that had real-life consequences.
By the time my senior year came around I was really tired of the Math department at Yale. I did not feel like it was very good and I didn’t want to spend my senior year taking a bunch of classes I thought I was wasting my time in.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Vanderbilt Hall in a suite with eight people but I had a single.
Sophomore: Saybrook College, I had a suite with 6 people and I had a double.
Junior: I moved off campus and lived in my fraternity
Senior: I lived in Saybrook again in a suite of two people and I had a single room
What was your favorite living situation?
I loved living in my college, Saybrook, my sophomore and senior years. That’s actually why I moved back on campus. When I left my junior year I really missed being in my college and living on campus.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I never felt unsafe ever. New Haven gets a bad rap because it’s not the nicest city. Even a block or two away from campus it can get pretty sketchy. But I lived off campus on one of those “sketchy” streets and I never had any problems and I never felt scared going home at night. There is a very high security presence at Yale because they know what some of New Haven can be like.
How was transitioning from Orlando to New Haven, CT?
The weather was a shock, obviously, but I faired pretty well. The only thing that was weird for me was not having a car, but I never felt the need to leave campus anyway, so I didn’t miss it that much. We also have really easy access to the train, so I went to New York City pretty frequently. I would say maybe around once every two months.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Rubamba, I love it there because I love their arepas
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I never really felt the need to get away from campus. If I needed a break from stuff I would just go to my room. I would go to New York once in a while, I have family in New York and I have friends who graduated that lived there and I’d go visit them. I never really felt pressured to relax and get a break from Yale, so I never really left campus if I didn’t have to.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you participate in at Yale?
I was in a fraternity, so a lot of my weekends I would be with my frat. Dorm parties are a huge thing at Yale. They definitely dominate the social scene, so dorm parties, Greek parties, and mixers and stuff. There are two main bars on campus that everyone goes to on Wednesdays and on the weekend. Those are very popular, especially if you’re underage because they are 18+ places.
What nights of the week do you like to go out?
Wednesdays are a huge night at Yale. Thursday becomes a night for going out when you’re a senior because everyone gets into senior societies, and then Friday and Saturdays.
What is a senior society?
It’s this construct that comes about your junior year when you get tapped into a society with 16 other seniors. It’s supposed to be a way to meet 16 people that you didn’t know very well your previous three years at Yale. You spend your entire senior year with this new group of 16 people. You meet with them every Thursday and Sunday night and do things like attend mixers with other societies or have your own internal get-togethers. It’s essentially a smaller scale, co-ed, sorority or fraternity that only occurs during your senior year.
Can you tell me about some of your favorite times at Yale?
The Harvard-Yale football game is definitely a highlight. I would say for me, the only football game I ever went to was the Harvard-Yale game. Everyone goes to those, they’re really fun. I personally think the ones at Harvard are more fun. Senior year as a whole is very exciting because Yale puts on so many events for seniors only, particularly spring semester when there are a lot of dances and open bar type events. It’s also the year when you’re in a society which is a really cool, unique experience you don’t get anywhere else.
Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
It would start off with some sort of dorm party. All the freshmen live on this quad called Old Campus, so going out nights always started with a dorm party in one of the suites on Old Campus, starting around 9 to 10 o’clock. Maybe around 11-11:30, if it’s a Wednesday people will go to Toad’s Place, or if it’s a weekend people will go to a frat, or to Box, or to Toad’s.
Are Greek parties exclusive?
No, the Greek culture is super open. It’s really unique and unexpected. I’m from Florida and a lot of my friends were in fraternities, so I had my own perception of what life was like. I got to Yale where all the parties and fraternities are always super open. You can get in anywhere even if you don’t know anyone in the fraternity or if you’re in a group of all guys. It doesn’t feel exclusive at all unless a house gets full and has to turn people away. But, I have never been turned away anywhere and I never had any problems and my friends never did.
How happy were you with the nightlife at Yale? Is there anything you would change if you could?
This is a personal preference, but I didn’t like how when you go to the frats or the bars people didn’t really dance. I like to dance, so I like going to Toad’s or Bar or some of the other clubs in New Haven. As a whole, nightlife at Yale is really fun. There’s always stuff to do and I like that it’s really open and I’ve never felt excluded from anything.
Did being a person who identifies as LGBT influence your nightlife experience at all?
No, not at all. Yale is a very open and accepting place. You can go to any bar, frat, or club and you’ll see girls with girls and guys with guys and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Yale is known as the gay Ivy, so that may have influenced it.
How did you meet your closest friends?
All of my closest friends were in my college.
The way Yale residential life works is right before your freshman year everyone is randomly divided into 14 different colleges and you live there and your college is your identity all four years. It’s very equivalent to the houses at Hogwarts. You live in a building freshman year with freshmen in your college and then sophomore to senior year everyone lives in their college. Each college has its own quad, dining hall, and anything you could need. It’s like a smaller version of the campus.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
I think the college system has a lot to do with how open Yale is. At Yale you are thrust into this environment with so many different groups of individuals, whether they’re in your college, your major, or in a club you’re in, or anything else. I had a lot of friends, and everyone at Yale is pretty genuine and nice. Overall, I think the social sphere is fun, inviting, and I had a great time.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I never felt any pushback at all. I would say that I feel comfortable speaking for most and saying that’s the case for everyone. There is a very heavy LGBT population, so it was very easy to come out to everyone at the college, no one batted an eye.
In terms of race and ethnicity, I think it’s also super open. I feel that every group I’ve been a part of has been very heterogeneous in nature. I also really like that we have cultural houses on campus. We have La Casa, which is the Hispanic cultural center, and we have cultural centers for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Native Americans. Those four organizations have a huge footprint on campus, so if anyone wanted to connect with people like themselves that’s also available. [In 2018-2019, about 43% of students are White, 19% are Asian, 13% are Hispanic, and 11% are international students.]
What have you used the career office for? How helpful were they?
Yeah, I went to the career office pretty often. I went there a lot my freshman year to get my resume and cover letter formatted and they gave me advice on how to find internships. I didn’t really reconnect with them until senior year when I was looking for a full-time job, and they helped me with my resume and cover letter. I also did a practice interview with them, which was nice. They also host a lot of information sessions and networking sessions with particular employers. I thought they were very helpful.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
Honestly, I never really used many programs throughout my college career. All my problem sets were handwritten. I used Excel very minimally, except I took an accounting class one semester, but other than there was not a huge focus. That’s the way it was for me at least, I can’t speak for other majors.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Yale before entering as a freshman?
I wish I know it didn’t particularly matter what I majored in, you can still get a job. Going into college, I thought you can’t get jobs with a humanities sort of background. Yale is a liberal arts school, so there are parts of that you have to accept, and it’s ended up not mattering. All my friends who majored in Political Science or History, they do stuff like end up getting jobs on Wall Street. It more matters what you do outside of the classroom and your internships and how you can present yourself in an interview.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I never visited Yale until Bulldog Day, which is accepted students’ day. That day they bombard you with classes to visit, places to go, and clubs to hang out with. It was a little overwhelming actually, but I think it’s a good indication of what it will be like when you get here. So, if you get in and are still undecided, definitely go to Bulldog Day.
Reasons to attend Yale:
1) I feel that the residential system and student life is unparalleled. You will not find any other college campus where you’ll feel more welcome and at home. I became family with my college and I’m really grateful for that.
2) Everyone is so smart and driven it makes you want to do better yourself. Not necessarily in a competitive way, but you see the drive and passion others have and it motivates you to do the same.
3) We have some of the best professors and smartest people in the world here. Although I had issues with some of my math professors, I would say that is not typical of Yale. The majority of the classes were incredible. The faculty is super open to helping you out with whatever you need.
Reasons to not attend Yale:
If you want something more technical in terms of study, you won’t get that here. You’re not going to get an accounting degree or a computer engineering degree. That’s basically it. I love Yale, I can’t imagine not going there after my 4 years there.