Carnegie Mellon University Top Questions

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

Connor

The stereotype in Pittsburgh in the northeast is that everyone at CMU is a bookworm. In general, it is true. People study here a lot, but it's due to the fact that everyone is really invested in what they are studying.

Max

That they are foreign, that they are asian or Indian, that they pay a lot to go here, that they are into tech, that they are spoiled. All of these are true.

Alexandra

SMU is often referred to as "Southern Millionaire University," a stereotype that stems from many students' affluence. While the conception is half-true in that many students' parents are wealthier than the average American, it's also misleading. People who don't know the kids at SMU assume they're elitist brats because of their parents' financial status; however, my experience has proved the opposite! Most of the student body that I know is disinterested by money and more excited about having a great college experience.

Cole

The stereotype of an SMU student is being unimaginably wealthy and that everyone thinks they are better than others. This is not true at all. Personally, I am at SMU because of the Hunt Leadership Scholarship, and without it I could not afford to go to this great school. I am in a fraternity and had no trouble feeling right at home even though my parents aren't CEO's or lawyers. Everyone is very friendly and extremely humble.

Aisha

Most people think students at SMU come from wealthy, conservative families in the south. Many think that SMU students spend most of their time on extra-curricular activities. While there is a lot of wealth that surrounds the school, it is a very warm and happy environment. The students are very friendly and the student body is not as homogenous as most people presume. There is an emphasis on greek life, but about half the student body still does not partake in greek activities

Rhyanna

The most prominent stereotype here at SMU is that all of the students are rich, snobby sorority/fraternity kids. While some of that is true, as SMU is an affluent college, it's not quite accurate. In actuality, a high percentage of students are more like me: studious, middle class, hard working with no Greek Life affilation. The SMU student body is very diverse, and offers a place for everyone.

Hannah

A common CMU student stereotype is that we are nerdy, study-hard students that perpetually have homework piled high and deteriorating social lives. This is actually fairly accurate for certain reasons but is also a very one-dimensional viewpoint of Carnegie Mellon students. The majority of students at this school are probably some of the most dedicated and hardworking you will ever come across, spending endless hours computer programming, drawing, building, writing, acting, whatever it may be. However, CMU students are generally very involved outside of academics in active organizations such as Greek life, dance teams, a cappella groups, Buggy (a longstanding racing competition unique to CMU), and so much more. A CMU student's dedication to an organization/club is a fair equivalent to that of his or her academics that can be personified in the phrase coined by our founder, Andrew Carnegie, "my heart is in the work." Anyone who's looking to make friends and get involved outside of the classroom (and library) but is committed to making the most of the academic privilege of attending a quality university shouldn't have much difficulty finding a place at Carnegie Mellon.

Jule

In general, students at CMU have a reputation for being nerdy and intelligent, and very passionate about what they do. “Cross-discipline” is another buzzword tagged to CMU: students are known for looking outside their majors and diving into other, often very different areas. The college puts an emphasis on this, and its no false advertising: I know engineers minoring in art, and computer science and creative writing double majors, and it seems that almost everyone has a major and a minor or multiple majors. This isn’t a school that puts strong emphasis on jocks or drinking. More people seem to come to the football games for the kilt-wearing pep band than for the team, and we’re not really known for our sports. As for drinking, you can find it and there are frat parties, but it’s not a notable part of the college culture or of socializing, and there’s no pressure to drink. When you meet someone, it’s not too risky to guess they’re an engineer, and if not that, a computer science major. While you can find many dedicated arts and humanities students, the college has a very techy image (which you’ll notice at the job fairs full of employers looking for programmers). There’s also a notable geeky/nerdy culture: last year home-made Lord of the Ring style cloaks popped up across campus, and if you pull out your deck, you will be surprised to realize just how many people play Magic. One of the best examples of what Carnegie Mellon students get excited about is Buggy. This “sport” is unique to CMU, and refers to an annual race in which a tiny, 5 foot tall girl, lies encapsulated in a specially made car (or “buggy”) , and is pushed relay-race-style by her teammates up a hill and then let steer the buggy down, often at speeds reaching 30mphs. Engineers, artists, runners, and anyone else crazy enough to get up before dawn on weekends join together to design, manufacture, test, decorate, and race the buggies.

Tyler

There's a saying that is regularly associated with students at Carnegie Mellon, both in sarcasm and a general honesty, that goes: "They say sex kills, so come to Carnegie Mellon and live forever." Although this may be exaggerated, it's not entirely incorrect. Students at CMU take themselves, and their work, extremely seriously. Whether you are talking about an art major or the next robotics whizz kid, they are bound to be a nerd, and in most cases love being called so.

Joshua

The common stereotype for CMU is that all of its students are ridiculously smart; therefore all of its students are either nerds or hipsters. And to some extent, this is true. Carnegie Mellon offers highly-competitive and intensive programs in engineering, computer science, and the arts, so the majority of the students who get in are very intelligent and hardworking individuals. So, of course, there are going to be computer science nerds and hipster film students, but don't forget that Carnegie Mellon is a school! These types of students are going to exist at all schools, from Harvard to your local community college. An unique aspect about CMU, however, is that the university accepts, embraces, and even celebrates these characteristics in people. If you're a nerd at heart- be a nerd! That being said, Carnegie Mellon, perhaps better than most colleges, opens you to a world of new, unique individuals who are all different an can by no means be shoved into a stereotype. At school I've met a wide variety of students, all of them with different cultural, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. At CMU, over 20% of the campus participates in Greek life, 14% of students are international, and we have students from almost all 50 of the United States. So in reality, a stereotype is just a stereotype, and no matter what type of student you are, I'm sure there will be a groups of students you will fit in with.

Joshua

The common stereotype for CMU is that all of its students are ridiculously smart; therefore all of its students are either nerds or hipsters. And to some extent, this is true. Carnegie Mellon offers highly-competitive and intensive programs in engineering, computer science, and the arts, so the majority of the students who get in are very intelligent and hardworking individuals. So, of course, there are going to be computer science nerds and hipster film students, but don't forget that Carnegie Mellon is a school! These types of students are going to exist at all schools, from Harvard to your local community college. An unique aspect about CMU however, is that the university accepts, embraces, and even celebrates these characteristics in people. If you're a nerd at heart- be a nerd! That being said, Carnegie Mellon, perhaps better than most colleges, opens you to a world of new, unique individuals who are all different an can by no means be shoved into a stereotype. At school I've met a wide variety of students, all of them with different cultural, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. At CMU, over 20% of the campus participates in Greek life, 14% of students are international, and we have students from almost all 50 of the United States. So in reality, a stereotype is just a stereotype, and no matter what type of student you are, I'm sure there will be a groups of students you will fit in with.

Hanbbit

The stereotypical student of my school is the nerd. Not the fashionable nerd-chic cliche that's been permeating our culture, but the hard-core computer science kind of nerd. The kind of nerd that revels in Starcraft, D&D, and writing operating systems for fun. Needless to say, the stereotype is not accurate. We have so many other hobbies as well.

Rebecca

At Carnegie Mellon University, the stereotype that comes to mind when thinking about the students here is "socially awkward." And it's true - every day there are frequent displays of our incredibly underdeveloped social skills. This is due to the fact that most people here probably spent most of their time in high school on the internet, and thus have little experience when it comes to actually socializing. But that's okay - the personality traits that ostracized CMU students from their peers when they were in high school are the very things that guarantee that they will fit in here; instead of being viewed by your peers as awkward, you will be seen as someone who is full of quirky idiosyncrasies.

Paul

The most common stereotype of Carnegie Mellon students by far is that we are over-caffeinated, under-rested workaholics who understand how programs and machines work better than we understand people. Should you choose to go to Carnegie Mellon, you will probably meet this person, but we are not all like this. Many of us go without enough sleep and attempt to make up the difference with coffee, many of us have less than average people skills, and most of us have too much work to do, but in my experience it isn't often that I find an individual for which all of these things apply. Even when they do, the stereotype still isn't quite accurate. The reason we tend to be a bit difficult to socialize with in the "real world" is because we are all a bit off. The reason we work so hard is because of our course load, yes, but also because we set ambitious projects for ourselves that take a lot of hard work. We all have our eccentricities and passions that most people simply don't share. At Carnegie Mellon, everyone is passionate about something, and if you don't quite fit in at your school because you people just laugh politely when you make your obscure science, math, literature, or video game joke, rest assured that here you will find people to put in stitches.

Leslie

There are several, rather accurate stereotypes of students at Carnegie Mellon University. We are all uniquely talented within our respective fields, but there is this intense notion of self-derived pressure and stress that we overwhelm ourselves with. We strive to be the best at nearly everything we attempt, and can be easily dissuaded from other pursuits, especially social advancement. With this having been said, Carnegie Mellon University students, regardless of their major or interests, are notably awkward to interact with. We have our fair share of geeks, stoners, etc., but we all share this multi-tasking ability that hinders what could be considered 'normal' interpersonal communication.

Tahirah

Whether you're a nerd in the cultural sense (a science fiction addict, a gamer, an active participant in live action role playing) or in the more academic sense (you read literary criticism for fun, you spend hours beyond those required to ensure you not only get an A, but also actually learn something and maintain that knowledge) you’re sure to find your kind here.

Anna

Students at Carnegie Mellon University are known to be intellectual, ambitious, and overall pretty geeky. Because of our very successful engineering and computer science programs, many of the students at CMU can be considered "nerds." It is not completely true that CMU is where "fun comes to die," but students do seem to spend more time in the computer clusters than most other places. It has also been said that CMU has a lot of "fruits and nuts." Also, with the women to men ratio being overwhelmingly male dominated, ladies should be warned that "the odds are good, but the goods are odd." Overall, Carnegie Mellon is a place for individuals who are intellectual and driven. It is a place for engaged youths with an inner nerd. It is a place where brains outweigh brawn.

Caroline

There's definitely a perception that Carnegie Mellon is full of freaks and geeks, so to speak. And you could understand where this perception comes from--we wouldn't be so well-known for our technology and computer science programs if some folks weren't glued to their screens all day. But this isn't the whole picture--CMU excels in the arts as well, from drama to architecture to the visual arts. The saying, "the odds are good but the goods are odd" stems from the fact that CMU is home to a lot geeky guys. Stereotypes begin for a reason (there are a lot of geeky guys here) but again, there's more to it than that. There's a lot of people from all over the country (guys and gals!) and the world, involving in everything from robotics to football to journalism to student-run theater.

Daniel

CMU students are generally thought of as introverted, cave-dwelling nerd beasts. And to be honest, we have a few of those. But the vast majority of people are outgoing, personable, and interesting, often because of their quirks and geekiness. They're all weird, but who isn't? CMU owns their oddity.

Joshua

The common stereotype for CMU is that all of its students are ridiculously smart; therefore all of its students are either nerds or hipsters. And to some extent, this is true. Carnegie Mellon offers highly-competitive and intensive programs in engineering, computer science, and the arts, so the majority of the students who get in are very intelligent and hardworking individuals. So, of course, there are going to be computer science nerds and hipster film students, but don't forget that Carnegie Mellon is a school! These types of students are going to exist at all schools, from Harvard to your local community college. An unique aspect about CMU however, it that the university accepts, embraces, and even celebrates these characteristics in people. If you're a nerd at heart- be a nerd! That being said, Carnegie Mellon, perhaps better than most colleges, opens you to a world of new, unique individuals who are all different an can by no means be shoved into a stereotype. At school I've met a wide variety of students, all of them with different cultural, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds. At CMU, over 20% of the campus participates in Greek life, 14% of students are international, and we have students from almost all 50 of the United States. So in reality, a stereotype is just a stereotype, and no matter what type of student you are, I'm sure there will be a groups of students you will fit in with.

Cassie

People both outside and inside the University hold a common stereotype - that we're all a bunch of eggheads. I think this is absolutely true if you define a nerd as "an intelligent, single-minded expert in a particular technical discipline or profession" instead of "a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious". Yes, everyone here is incredibly invested in their work, whether it's engineering, music, or writing. But there is a thriving social community if you choose to look for it outside of the computer clusters and office hours.

Bonita

When one thinks of Carnegie Mellon University students, one likely imagines a scrawny computer science major hunched over with a huge backpack, programming 24/7 and forgetting to shower. Or perhaps one imagines an unhealthily pale engineering student with dark circles under his/her eyes and barely any social skills. And while these stereotypes may be true in some aspects for a fair amount of Carnegie Mellon students, these extreme perceptions don't apply to the entire student body. We have jocks (who discuss physics once they're off the field). We have Greeks (who still achieve 4.0's). We have liberal arts students (who work just as hard as the engineers). We have a diverse student population with a multitude of personalities, which makes it impossible to just assign one stereotype to every student. So yes, there are students who fit stereotypes - but not all of them forget to shower.

L

I'm in the drama school so I can say that our stereotype is very talented, very attractive, and stupid. The first two stereotypes are 100% true, the last is only true in a handful of cases.

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