Here are Madhavika's responses to questions I asked over an email interview:
1. How important do you consider rankings while evaluating schools? How have your perceptions changed about this now?
MB: Tabulated rankings never played a big part in my selection process. I just used them as a starting point for my college research. After having spent a year in college, I believe that rankings are absolutely irrelevant and not at all an indication of where a student can find the right kind intellectual stimulation.
2. Did the geographic location (NE, Mid West, West , South) and setting (urban, rural, suburban, college town) of your college impact your overall assessment of your college experience? Did you think about this when applying? How did your perception change with time?
MB: Geographic Location played a VERY important part in my selection process. I wanted to be near a city on the coasts, I did not apply any schools in the mid west, south and so on. I have found that this was the right decision for me as I would not have it any other way.
3. Did you consider size (student population) as an important criteria while choosing schools? What do you think is a size that is ideal for you? Why?
MB: Absolutely. I wanted to be in a small, undergraduate institution. A small, intimate campus and tiny class sizes are ideal for me. That way, I feel there are more people invested in my learning and I like being part of a close knit campus community.
4. What was the average class size of your intro classes? Were you satisfied with this? In what way did this change your perception of your academic experience? What would you do differently?
MB: I would not do anything differently. My class sizes have been my favourite part of college. My largest class, Intro Econ, was 30 students!
5. What is your current major interest? Did this change over time? Explain if it did? Do you think that the courses you took to fulfil general education requirements were good? What would you change about the choices you made?
MB: I am currently considering a double major in Econ and International Studies and a minor in Spanish. I always knew I'd major in Econ but Spanish became a serious academic interest only after I took a language class for fun and ended up wanting to do it for the remaining undergrad years. SImilarly, International Studies is a unique program at my college which draws from aspects of Econ, Poli Sci, Philosophy and Language and Culture studies. This was a perfect program for me since it ties in all my interests and allows me to explore all of them. The Gen Ed requirements have been a little bit of an annoyance, I wish there were fewer but at the same time I wouldn't change any of the classes I chose to take.
6. Was the ratio of international students/total population an important criteria in your selection of schools? Did you feel trapped in any sort of bubble or clique? Did your perceptions about diversity change while you were in college?
MB: International students make up almost 15% of our student body and coming from a high school with absolutely no diversity, my perception of diversity has undergone a complete change, but for the better. I absolutely do not feel trapped in any sort of bubble or clique.
7. Can you comment an the overall personality of the student body? What aspects of this did you like/dislike?
MB: The student body at my school is very liberal, outspoken and opinionated. They are also extremely accepting. I really like the intellectual drive and curiosity that I see in most students. However being an all women's institution, there is also a tendency towards non-conformity for the sake of non-conformity which I don't really like because it's insincere. A lot of gender stereotypes are played up in order to allow male-bashing and militant feminism which can also get very annoying. But besides that, I generally admire a lot of students I go to school with!