- Class: Junior
- Major: French Studies
- Gender: F
- High School: Henry Sibley
- Transfer Student: N
I most appreciate the human relationships I've been able to develop with other students. Some of the most inspirational and beautiful people I know, I met at Carleton. I would change the general apathy and lack of activism in Carleton students, starting with higher expectations of applied knowledge within the curriculum. Social activism is completely a choice, both in ideology and in deed. I don't mind the number of students at Carleton, though I wish more of them were conscientious and more engaged with their complete learning experience. Few people know about Carleton outside of a privileged group within the US - the response is therefore either 'impressed' because they have heard and believe the elitist rhetoric that surrounds schools like this one, or disinterest because they have no context for the College. I spend most of my time at work (15 hours per week), doing homework and with friends. Northfield (our College town) is a perfect example of small, Midwestern farming communities becoming suburban - some hate this and others adore it. I don't cherish the smell of cow dung and Malto Meal cereal that is particular to the area ... The administration is, unfortunately, more interested in maintaining a status quo that photographs well and can be published in promising brochure paragraphs than it is in investing in the holistic education of all students. Carleton struggles consistently with racial issues, hidden sexual assault, drug ab/use and one of the worst retention rates of men of color in the nation. Many of these stem from an institutional preference to ignore these problems, allowing them to fester, instead of a dedication to healing dialogue about them.
I have the privilege of developing close relationships with some of my professors, though none of them are in my major. Professors tend to know student names, as classes are small enough that this is possible and expected. I enjoy some Educational studies classes; I really loved the Philosophy of Law; the only art class I've taken was a great exercise in developing multiple perspectives; writing parts of my own autobiography in French was a wonderful way to practice, explore and improve my language skills. 'Race and Ethnicity' was a waste of my time; several classes that students take to fulfill the requirements of a liberal arts mentality end up being meaningless for them (for me, these classes were Ethics in Biology and Astronomy). Students study daily, for several hours a day ... or, I should say, they work on academics that much. Studying is reserved for hours after readings, caucus postings, blog development, problem sets, papers, etc are finished. Class participation is variable - some students like to talk a lot, others have less vocal contributions, some don't come to class on a regular basis. Intellectual conversations take place outside of the classroom, usually among close friends. Uncomfortable conversations are best conducted with close friends, as well, as the fears and anxieties of each are better respected. Students are not competitive - in or out of class. Grades are a personal property, to be shared only by choice. Most won't ask about GPA, test scores, etc. The only place that competition comes out is in who asks for help, how, how often, and from whom. I've taken strange classes while traveling abroad - the relationship of spatial organization to city 'personality' and traditional Malian dance.
The further one is from meeting the standard of being male, heterosexual, white, upper/middle class and Christian or Atheist, with a strong basis in American culture, the more uncomfortable one is bound to be on campus. The student groups who are the most vocal about their feelings of invalidation, powerlessness and marginalization are domestic students of color (as opposed to international students), LGBTIQ students, first-generation college students, and students from low-SES, urban backgrounds. Complacency is also a strong component of relative comfort levels on campus - I would not encourage students who think themselves to be politicized to attend this school. Students tend to wear 'comfy' clothes, such as jeans/sweatpants, t-shirts, sweatshirts/fleece, tennis shoes. When it is warm, select students choose not to wear shoes. A small minority 'dress up' on a regular basis, following fashion trends; a smaller minority tries to wear their difference literally on their sleeves, with items like capes or costumes. Different types of students interact superficially. The dining halls separate themselves in complex ways - by year, floor, shared sport, shared racial status, international status. About one quarter of the student body is from Minnesota. Many are from the surrounding Midwest - there is a large population from Chicago, for example, and many from Wisconsin. Carleton tries to represent every state with at least one student at the institution at a time. This means that there is one self-identified Native student. Another 13% is from abroad - from Botswana to South Korea to Cyprus to Ireland. Wealthy legacies support the school financially, upper middle class students make up the majority of SES backgrounds, lower middle class students are rare and a shrinking population due to new admission policies, and low-SES students are about 10-15% of the student body (estimation). Students would say that they are politically aware/active, though I do not agree with this self-assessment of many. Predominantly, students are of a Democratic, left-wing ideology. Students do not often talk about money, though there are silent assumptions made (ie: asking friends out to dinner, bars in town, concerts, etc ... regularly)
The Best Things
The network of alumni and organizations who love the reputation waiting for you off campus.
The Worst Things
Complacency, lack of honest, confrontational dialogue and inaction.