We reside in a nation where the majority of citizens fortunately attend college. In America, we witness college culture be glamorized on our movie screens; from girls who slap tons of makeup across their faces and dress provocatively, to guys who are insanely buff and invested in sports and getting intoxicated. Unfortunately, we also see the not so appealing aspects of college culture thanks to movie producers; absurdly un-diverse student bodies, hook-up culture, and disgustingly perverted faculty members. It’s evident national television ingrains us to imagine this when the word college enters the mind. We are instilled to think of large institutions notorious for partying like University of Central Florida, and Penn State.
Let’s zero in to a specific region of the country, the greater New York Metropolitan Area. Home to the Big Apple, and its four surrounding boroughs; Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Just east lies the slightly more suburban “sister” of the boroughs; Long Island. The two counties composing Long Island are Nassau and Suffolk. No doubt, the greater New York Metropolitan Area is one of the grand masterpieces of the World. Endless places to visit, explore, shop, eat, work, and more. It’s only fair to assume post-secondary institutions in the area would be socially on-par to colleges on the big screen. You’d be surprised to know that the campuses sitting on these fine metropolitan streets are short of nothing but polar opposite.
Post-secondary institutions in the greater New York Metropolitan Area are infamously dubbed “commuter schools”. In a survey that 40 students who attend Farmingdale State College (FSC) on Long Island took, the percentage of students who would coin FSC a “commuter school” is 87.5. FSC student Justin Capera transferred there last fall from York College in South Jamaica, Queens. I asked him in which ways was the social involvement better or worse at FSC compared to his former college. Capera said the social involvement was approximately the same between both schools. He also emphasized it’s vastly imperative to“find your people”.
In addition to Capera, I interviewed three students, and one faculty member. The interviews and survey discuss the social presence (or needless to say absence) at FSC. In sum, 60% wish the campus had more socialization opportunities, 37.5% believe there is minimal social activity on campus grounds, and 47.5% have considered transferring due to social inactivity. I spoke to one student who feels it’s easier to socialize when dorming instead of commuting.
Narrowing down roles students hold on campus, I discussed with the interviewees what social interactions are like amongst specific majors and courses. The interviewees major in Criminal Justice, Professional Communications, and Business Management (this student also minors in Legal Studies). Surprisingly enough, the feedback from two Criminal Justice students was like day and night. Student A is certain that majoring in Criminal Justice, or generally any major, has no social impact. On the other hand, Student B finds it less challenging to connect with fellow Criminal Justice students, with the same applying to other majors. Furthermore, there are more commonalities amongst students who share the same major according to Student B. Professional Communications student Capera befriended some classmates within his major, though it’s generally difficult to be acquainted with fellow Professional Communications students. The Business Management student is confident social activity is lacking within the major, and the sole extent of social interaction is attending class.
Now you may be wondering, what is the social life like from class to class? Luckily, there are answers for you. When conversing with Capera, he replied that the dropping of COVID restrictions made physical actions and conversations feasible, as well as comfortable; this also paralleled with making new friends. “It varies from class to class”, is Student A’s opinion on social life in the classroom; he discovered some classes are genuinely friendlier, whilst others aren’t. Student B kept to themself in class, and observed no communication between peers, making it a struggle to befriend them.
The tables turned when I interviewed a faculty member from FSC; Melissa Aziz, a Senior Counselor from the Disability Service Center. I inquired if she feels the social opportunities offered on campus hinder the academic performance of some students. “No, it’s important for students to have a healthy balance between both academics and socialization”. Aziz then reinforced that the socialization portion of life is equally pertinent as reading your textbooks, so to speak. “It’s a part of life”. Similar to one of Capera’s responses, Aziz also noted socialization has increased since returning for in-person instruction, and it was much worse when completely remote.
There was a collective recurrence among all student interviews; bottom line is, FSC should host more events that attract young adults! FSC, other collegiate institutes of Long Island and New York City, it’s time for a change; listen to student voices!
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