What is the name of the institution you attend and what year are you currently at the school? Additionally, please provide any information pertaining to your relevant background i.e. high school, ethnicity and gender. All of your answers to the questions below will greatly help parents with prospective students separate the reality from myth of different colleges.
Yale University, Class of 2014 (freshman)
Bayarea High School
1. What were your expectations of your college in terms of its academic and social culture? How did your time at this institution stack up to your expectations?
I expected Yale to be really elitist and filled with WASPs and children of old money. When I arrived, though, I discovered that the large majority of students were down-to-earth, friendly, and modest. Yale is really diverse; coming from a predominantly Asian high school, it was refreshing for me to be able to interact with students of all ethnicities and from all backgrounds. In my dorm alone, I have friends from Jamaica, England, Australia, China, Japan, Turkey, Pakistan, and Sudan. Yale is great in that self-segregation is practically nonexistent; everybody is free to talk to everybody else, and ethnic backgrounds play no role in developing friendships. Also, very few students come from WASP backgrounds, and those who do rarely flaunt it. It’s impossible to know who comes from a wealthy background and who doesn’t, since everyone is treated for their personality and not their clothes. Basically, I love Yale.
2. In your personal experience, what is the drug scene (excluding alcohol) at the college like? Please give estimates of the percentage of people that use them. What are the disciplinary actions taken towards student who are caught using substances?
From my understanding, the drug scene at Yale is not that strong. I would estimate that roughly 15 percent of people have probably tried at one point, but fewer regularly use. I have never personally been exposed to drugs at Yale, but I have heard of stories of students who tried. If so, hard drugs are rarely used; most students experiment with marijuana, but few move on to try the more dangerous drugs. I’m not familiar with the disciplinary actions, but the school definitely does have some in place.
3. In your personal experience, what percentage of people drink on a regular basis (at least once or twice a week) at your college? What are the disciplinary actions taken towards students who are caught drinking?
Students tend to drink a lot on Friday and Saturday nights, when there is no class the next day. However, many students are very responsible with their drinking habits and put off alcohol during the school week in order to focus on their students. I would say about 60% of the population probably drinks on a regular basis; most, however, drink for recreational purposes and only drink a little. Very few drink so much that they need to be taken to the hospital, and most do so responsibly.
4. What are some of the most significant differences between your college and high school experiences?
Diversity. Yale has so much more diversity than Lynbrook did, both in terms of socioeconomic levels as well as ethnicity. I love being surrounded by different types of people and I genuinely believe that being exposed to a variety of background types is helping me develop as a person. Also, although Yale places heavy emphasis on academics and students are very self-motivated, the academic environment is not as cutthroat or stressful as Lynbrook’s was (for me). I feel much more relaxed when I study, and this has been a nice change from the high-stress environment that I grew up with in high school.
5. What do you like most about your college? And conversely what do you enjoy the least about it?
Hands down, I like the people the most. The students are driven, self-motivated, and intelligent, and all of them come from such interesting backgrounds and histories. I also love Yale’s architecture; it’s so nice to wake up in the morning in such a beautiful environment. I don’t really know what I like least about it, but I do wish Yale would offer minors as well as majors. It puts a lot of stress on students who want to study multiple subjects but may not be able to double major.
6. What are some of the most important things you feel students should know or do going into college? What about going to your college?
Be aware of the social environment and make sure to come prepared knowing who you want to be in college. A lot of students tried to reinvent themselves upon arriving at Yale, and some of them got so carried away that they drank too much and partied too hard. Already, I know of one girl who was kicked out of Yale for her alcohol habits and has to reapply if she wants to come back. In my experience, I’ve realized that the students who come from the most repressed and strict backgrounds are the ones who go crazy in college, because they suddenly don’t know how to handle their freedom. I would recommend that parents be more flexible with their children and give them more freedom; similarly, students should understand that while it’s okay to reinvent yourself in college, be careful about the choices you make. You don’t want to be kicked out of your university before you even finish your first semester because of a few bad decisions.
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