People always ask, "Are there, like, parties at CMU?" Yes, there are. You can find parties with alcohol, parties without, open parties, close house parties, and always a ton of students at the bars. We work hard and play hard. By the time you leave, you'll probably know atleast one bartender at one of the local CMU hangouts who will know your standard drink order and toppings for your pizza. If you want to drink, you can drink. If you don't want to, then nobody will pressure you. It's all about knowing who you are, and making sure that you get your work done before you play. Play too hard with the workload that you're bound to have, and you'll be heading on the Dean's vacation. Learn to juggle your commitments, and you'll be able to create a great college experience. There are professors that I'll never forget, being invited into their homes for dinner. I've complained to my advisor and had her pump me back up about what I'm doing here. I've made some mistakes, struggled through some classes and sailed through others. I'm in the home stretch now, but there are so many things that have made my CMU experience the college experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. Tuesday Night Wings, watching football games (Go Steelers!), learning to use a circ saw for Booth, running hill sprints at midnight with my Buggy team, Friday happy hours at PHI bar (you might see a few profs there), modeling in the student designer fashion show, sorority retreats, driving to Ohio for our club lacrosse games and playing intramural volleyball games have all been huge parts of my experience. At the risk of sounding sappy, I've had some rough times with the good ones at this school, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can't wait to move in the freshmen this August for Orientation and spend the last week of my summer getting them ready for what could be the best 4 years of their lives if they're not afraid to leave their comfort zone, embrace their inner-nerd (even Bill Cosby said that we're nerds, and we cheered like crazy), pull a few all-nighters, and rally behind a Scottie Dog mascot.
No matter what people tell you, it is possible to have a happy, fulfilling long distance relationship. I have twice daily phone calls with my boyfriend, once in the morning for about 15 minutes or 1/2 an hour, and then for between 45 minutes and 2 hours at night. We see each other every two weeks in Washington DC. We send each other flowers, I send him cookies and he lends my Sci-Fi books. The most important thing is to communicate--for example, when I had guy friends hitting on me, I told my boyfriend during our next call. Also, spontaneous calls when good or bad things happen, and listening (not multitasking!) during calls can all help. However, I found one of my most formative months at CMU was the one where I didn't see my boyfriend--because I couldn't be near him physically I had to closen the relationships I had made with my friends at CMU and rely on myself more emotionally.
CMU is really about finding what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. If you want a real college experience.. DON'T COME HERE. This is the real deal. This is about really getting good at what you are going to persue. There's no sliding by, no falling under the radar. If you don't succeed, you won't want to stay. This isn't somewhere to come and party your four years away. We work hard, THEN we party hard. You'll meet some great people and some awful ones too. You'll find that most people here are out for themselves, and being able to go home for the summer is a blessing not a bother.
Try not to be intimidated, if you get into CMU and especially if you can afford it or if they give you a scholarship, it will probably be a very good place for you. I don't know a lot of people who are dissatisfied because Pittsburgh does offer a lot of opportunities for you to experience your field outside of the classroom, take on research and prepare for a job. I think I am more prepared than I know for like after graduation and the social aspect of the college, well you will find an area in which you fit in.
Pittsburgh is neighborhood-oriented, so there are lots of places to go in the city to go shopping or hang out. CMU is in an area with restaurants that have half price menus after 11PM, which is awesome. A downside to the area is that besides these restaurants most of Pittsburgh is closed after 9PM. CMU has some of the worst food I have ever tasted, but it's been getting progressively better. The dining system gives you flexibility, which means you get more choice as to what you can eat.
Carnegie Mellon is a college with great programs in many diverse fields. We have experts in fields ranging from computer science, to fine arts, to engineering, to philosophy and decision science. And students whose interests vary by just as much. This leads to intensely passionate students who love to share their knowledge and interests with other students. No other college that I looked at had so many options for students whose interests varied so much.
I chose Carnegie Mellon because it is not only a great school academically, but there are many opportunities in the city of Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon has so many great opportunities and is very diverse. I have been able to get involved on campus through Greek Life as well as extracurricular activities like being a part of the newspaper staff, treasurer of the women's leadership program, as well as off campus involvement at UPMC hospital in Shadyside.
This school is for those who are really looking for a challenge. Those who like to be involved in tons of different groups and can still handle the every day workload. One must be good at playing the balancing act if they would like to suceed in all aspects at this university. Being well-rounded is not extremely difficult, but one must be willing to put in the time and effort. In the end, it will all be worth it.
This is coming from the perspective of a Electrical/Computer Engineering student who transfered into CMU his junior year. I have been living off-campus ever since being admitted to CMU and therefore have never experience the CMU dorms and apartments. Academically, CMU is a great place, however I have learned to mainly have my social life in the city of Pittsburgh.
Beware the linux clusters, the students are generally pretty smelly. A select few students attempt living there... thus the lack of showering is overpowering. If you get a chance to go to a drama party...you should go because they are usually out of control fun. DO NOT walk around alone at night, you WILL be mugged.