The best thing about Emory is its balance between academics and social life, which seems to fit most people but it really is what you make of it. If you choose to stay in the library until 3am every day of the week, you can do that, and if you want to go out and get wasted every night from Wednesday to Sunday, I guess you could do that too. However, the average Emory student fits neither of these extremes. Most like to go out at least once every weekend, either to a frat party/club/bar or just to spend time with friends. I have yet to figure out whether students have their priorities straight. Many pick "joke" classes so they can go out more often. There are not many overachievers here, and if you choose to take 5 classes instead of the typical 4, most will think you are crazy. It is very easy to get involved in extracurricular activities, and most students are involved in a club or sport.
My advice, if you plan on attending, is to surround yourself with the right people early on and definitely keep an open mind about life in general. Also, do not be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, make lots of them. Talk to everyone. Make spontaneous decisions. Plan ahead, but allow yourself to live in the edge as well. Live a balanced life. If you are having a hard time adjusting, ask yourself why. Talk to others about it that might be in the same position as you. ALWAYS leave your room door open if you are just chilling in your room. Most importantly, first impressions mean nothing. Never be too quick to judge people here.
What would I change about Emory? Many things. Before ranting, however, I would like to point out that Emory is definitely working towards many improvements, especially in the academic area.
First, Emory is currently allocating the majority of its money towards building new "green" residence halls for freshmen. However, not much has been done regarding upperclassmen housing.
Off the top of my head, I wish that at least some of this money were invested into more creative classes and major options, better food (this issue seems to be a work in progress), build more cafeterias (there is only one cafeteria!), make the DUC (main cafeteria) more like a student center so students can actually hang out there, improve the gym with better and newer equipment, build better zipcar locations, and make the shuttle system more convenient. I also wish the business school would offer a business minor in order for students to actually have a chance to explore the liberal arts curriculum here and not be confined to the business major.
It's also really annoying to see how overpriced things can be around here, given how expensive it is to attend here in the first place (even with financial aid for some people). For example, if you lose your Emory card, they charge $25 for the first time. From what I understand, most schools replace cards for free the first time. The Emory bookstore prices are also ridiculous, but that's common for every school. Doing your laundry costs money. Need passport pictures for your business school application? 12 dollars. Need to print something out in color? 1 dollar per page. I wish some of these things were subsidized instead of overpriced. It really makes me wonder what we're paying for.
I would also like to see Emory develop new departments. An architecture school would be great, as well as an Industrial/ product design major. There is no engineering department here, so the only options for a prospective engineer are either (1) go through the 3-2 program with Georgia Tech (a good option, but I have mixed feelings about this program), (2) Study something similar to engineering, such as applied physics, along with liberal arts classes and complete a master’s program in engineering after graduation, or (3) opt out of Emory completely and study engineering in a 4 year engineering program. The math/ CS departments here do not appear to be very good for a top-20 school (no matlab courses? CS170 being taught by grad students? sad for a school of Emory’s reputation.) I guess if you're set on studying math, physics, or CS, the only advantages I can think of are small class sizes (personalized attention from profs) and obtainable research opportunities (but not much variety).
Lastly, Emory needs more than 2 career fairs each year and needs to get the attention of more companies to recruit Emory students more heavily. We have a very pre-professional student body, so why not complement it with as many career opportunities as possible? Maybe Emory’s southern location prevents many northeast and west coast companies from heavily recruiting. On the bright side, Emory does a good job of attracting Atlanta-based companies.
I believe that in order for Emory to remain competent in the next number of years, it needs to market itself much, MUCH better. However, Emory is not trying to be the next Stanford. As a result, it chooses to advertise itself as a liberal arts school with great business, medical, and health programs, d-3 sports, a beautiful campus, greek life that isn’t too overbearing, and green dorms for freshmen. If this is enough to get you super excited to come here, then this is probably the right school for you.
However, for me, Emory is what it is. I think this school needs something unique to make it stand out. At first, the student body as a whole didn't seem very open minded or creative. Getting to know people better helped somewhat, but I am still a bit underwhelmed. I know for sure that 99% of students here are very smart and capable and have something going for them. However, many people conceal their nerdy/ quirky side in an effort to be cool like everyone else, and this can get frustrating. My tip is to get to know people well before making conclusions. As far as school pride, some students are proud of attending here and others are not. In the end, your university career is what you make of it, and Emory is a solid top-20 school with room for improvement. If you seek a very academic-oriented environment, I would say look elsewhere. I recommend visiting the campus during a weekend in the middle of the semester to get a feel for how life is over here.
I think this reflects my overall view of Emory. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.
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