- Class: Senior
- Major: Engineering
- Gender: F
- High School: Pasadena High School
- Transfer Student: N
Carnegie Mellon is a really tough school for the first couple of years, but the atmosphere is really nice and it is very collaborative. What's great is that it's not competitive and the students all help each other to get by. Spring Carnival is the huge event on campus. You get 2 days off in the spring, we bring in a comedian (Mitch Hedberg, Dimitri Martin, Human Giants, etc.), a band (The Roots, The Shins, Spoon, Incubus), and then there are small acts either from around the campus or around the country. What's really cool is that lots of different organizations build "booths" that are all themed & have games, primarily geared towards kids. They are very elaborate and people put in a lot of time. There are, of course, carnival rides, too. Finally, we have an event called Buggy, or Sweepstakes. Organizations build vehicles called "buggies" that are similar to box cars, although they're very aerodynamic & expensive (we are an engineering school). We find the smallest girl we can on campus, stick her in the buggy, then push her down a hill that reaches speeds of up to 35-40 mph! She's then pushed up several more hills to the finish line. It's pretty intense. CMU is located just outside of Pittsburgh. The public transportation is amazing, so you can get anywhere you need. You can easily go to baseball games, hockey games, but not so much football games (good luck getting a ticket). Although Pittsburghers love their sports, so it's fun to just watch a game in a bar. There are also a lot of museums, gardens, & parks. However, it may take a while to be able to get out into the city given academic demands.
CMU is a difficult school, although there are lots of resources to help get you through it. The student body is definitely an asset here since we're not competitive. People here are very smart, but also very well rounded. It can be strange at times. My major is Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a double in Engineering and Public Policy. What I really like about our CEE department (over schools like Berkeley) is that we are small which allows for a lot of collaboration amongst students and faculty. It's a very warm environment & we do lots of activities together (canoing, skiing, baseball games, BBQ). I have been very, very happy with our department. CMU requires engineering majors to take a certain number of humanities courses, some of which must be in the same subject. I think this is very valuable in creating a well-rounded individual. The education itself, at least for engineering, is practical, in the sense that most classes are project based. You get a real-life sense of engineering that I think prepares you for going on to a job later on. However, I know a lot of the other majors focus on theory, which is better aimed towards graduate school. I think that whatever you want to do afterwards, CMU prepares you for it. I, for instance, will be attending graduate school before I start working, & it's been easy to find internships, full-time jobs, and get into top notch schools (MIT, Cornell).
There are lots of different supportive student groups on campus. There are lots of international students, although I definitely feel that not all minorities are represented equally. The African American population has been small, although I have noticed it's started to grow a lot. The same holds true for Latinos. I really do think CMU is accepting of all differences and the students are open to all types of races, religions, and preferences. There's no set style at Carnegie Mellon. Some people wear polos or heels, others wear t-shirts & sneakers. There's no since of segregation, although some of the "nerdier" students may stick together. Financial backgrounds vary, although I think most students are from the northeast, Pennsylvania, or northern California. Students have started to become politically active and have brought people to speak on campus. I would say most students are democrats, although those are just the ones that are more proactive. One of the perks about going to CMU & sticking with it is that we are generally paid more than graduates from other schools. Sometimes that's the driving force for some students.
The Best Things
The student body
The Worst Things