Interviews with Mudd Frosh

Hello! It’s Mason again with another blog post!

This week, I decided to email the HMC freshman class and ask if any of them would be interested in sitting down for an interview about their experience at Mudd so far.

A handful of students responded to my email; so I asked each of them five questions about their experience at Mudd:

What are you majoring in/what’s your concentration? What makes you interested in those things?

Marz Barnes

I’m uncertain, but I think I want to major in engineering. I just think it’s super cool, and I like to do things that are practical.

When I came here, I thought I’d do Japanese as a foreign language concentration, but now I’m uncertain. I’m thinking religious studies, because it’s just interesting to me.

Isabel Duan

I’m currently declared as a CS major, but I will most likely add Math later on for a joint CS-Math major. I think the difference between them is one class, and they combine the clinic and thesis requirement. 

I’m really into music, but I don’t think I’m going to concentrate in that, because I don’t want to take the theory classes, I just want to take the performance classes. Also, if I concentrate in music, I have to worry about getting into more Mudd hums.

I’m pretty sure I’ll end up concentrating in linguistics, because I really like it. I just wrote a mini-essay on why I’m interested in linguistics. I’m interested in translation and how different languages influence the way you think.

I think it would be cool to take CS and linguistics and put them together towards natural language processing.

Shanni Lam

I will probably major in CS/Math. I mostly decided on CS/Math because I wanted to do math/statistics, and that can be supplemented by CS. CS is also just a useful life skill that helps you stay current. It’s used everywhere, even in engineering projects.

I want to concentrate in Economics. Mudd has a lot of Econ classes, and there’s a lot of Econ classes at the other 4Cs, but it’s easier to get them done at Mudd.

Aside from my concentration, I also want to take intro classes in various languages, but won’t I concentrate in them.

How do you approach the heavy workload?

Marz Barnes

Ahhhh. Well, I kind of don’t? The first semester, where grades are only pass/fail, is very good for that. I could just kind of skate by that first semester, but this second semester, with letter grades, is like … oooh… I try to get ahead on my work, but I’m so bad at it.

Not well, I guess would be my answer. But it’s fine.

It’s very helpful to be in core though. Because a lot of people you know are doing the same stuff. I mostly go to peers for help, because I know a lot of people who are smart.

If I didn’t have friends to help me, I would go to AE and office hours, but I haven’t needed to.

Isabel Duan

I feel like I’m really in the minority. I feel like people say it’s a lot worse than it actually is. I come from a high school that was really, really, really bad in its workload. I have less work here than I did in high school. For me personally, I have more space here than I did in high school, so I can focus on my work.

When I’m motivated, I tell myself that I have to work because I’m motivated. When I’m not, I just let myself take a break.

In college, you can structure your own time. However, that can be a bad thing if you’re not good at managing it. You have more options with how you spend your time than you did at home. For example, during my first semester, I only had classes until 11:00 AM, and I had a lot of time after that to do whatever I wanted. If you want to get 8 hours of sleep every night, it’s definitely doable.

Shanni Lam

I have a planner, so I do my work first, and then I get to have fun. I’ll have a chunk of work time, then I’ll take an hour-long break, and then get back to work. Going to office hours and AE helps me do work faster, and I can get help.

Everyone comes into Mudd with different strengths, weaknesses, and levels of preparation. It may seem that other people are just a lot smarter or faster, which can contribute to some anxiety, but it’s important to remind yourself that not everyone came in with the same experiences. For me personally, Mudd was just as hard as they told me and maybe even harder. It’s not shameful to go to office hours or AE. In fact, I prefer going there because I feel less pressure from not being at the same pace as other people. I couldn’t have survived without them.

Is there anything you’ve found or experienced at Mudd that you didn’t expect to?

Marz Barnes

I think a lot of it was somewhat expected. I knew there’d be a heavy workload, and the core.

Coming here and experiencing college, there’s a lot of things you don’t expect, because you’re living without your parents, and with peers, which is new. There’s not one big thing that is unexpected, There’s just a collection of little things that aren’t exactly how your pictured it, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Isabel Duan

I don’t have older friends, siblings, or family members who went to college before me, so I don’t really know much about the college experience. I think people party here more than I expected, which isn’t a bad thing, but I do think we party less than other colleges.

Shanni Lam

It’s a lot more of a normal college than I thought it would be. I know we’re an elite institution, but people still party, drink, and date. I expected everyone to be more into their work. We have more fun than I thought, which is not a bad thing, I was just kind of surprised.

What’s your favorite thing to do at Mudd? AND/OR What do you like most about Mudd?

Marz Barnes

I really like to hang out in my dorm lounge with people, and talk to people. I like to be social in general. That’s not very mudd-specific, that’s more life-specific.

My favorite thing about Mudd is the profs. I’ve had an exceptional experience with all my profs. Ever single prof is amazing in their own way. That’s not the case for everyone, but that’s my experience.

[Having amazing professors] doesn’t happen accidentally, so that’s something people are paying attention to and searching for, so I really appreciate that a lot.

Isabel Duan

There’s a lot of things I like about Mudd.

The professors are really nice. There’s only been one professor that really scared me, but I really don’t think he was trying to be scary, and that was me being an anxious person.

I don’t know if I have a favorite thing about Mudd. Something I like is that your friends are super close to you, but that’s just the nature of being in college. Also, Mudd is really small, so that contributes to the close-ness to your friends. 

Everything you need is right here. Academics, food, and social activities are all on campus. You could very easily spend all 4 years in the ‘Mudd bubble.’ It’s nice having everything right here, in case you need something super later at night.

Also, everybody is super helpful. Drinkward’s email chain is full of people asking for stuff they need, and other people responding that they have it.

I actually have free time now, which I didn’t back in high school. I’m not involved in as many time-consuming clubs as I was in high school, like Speech and musicals. 

One time, it was 2AM and I was here in this lounge, and my friend was baking this huge cookie, and a bunch of his friends came over, and he said he wanted to go off campus and do something. I said that I could drive up the nearby mountain if we wanted to, so we ended up driving up a mountain for like 2 hours in the middle of the night, and coming back in the early morning. If you want to do something fun on a whim, you can do it.

Shanni Lam

My favorite thing is the clubs, which usually provide hang-out events and give out free food.  I’m in several clubs.  One of them, Project Decode is an affinity group for first gen, low-income students. Another, APISPAM/EPAIC is an affinity group for Asian students. I’m also in 5C Vietnamese, Math Social Fund, and Women in Math.

Affinity groups usually have dinners once a week, so you get to socialize with other students and meet upperclassmen. You can also meet upperclassmen in other clubs too.

If you could tell prospective students one thing about Mudd, what would it be?

Marz Barnes

Being in this environment has helped me grow a lot as a person. It’s in part due to the teachers, students, and community here.

The community drives me to do better, which is something I needed in my life. Everyone is exceptional.

Isabel Duan

Everyone here is really willing to help you get through whatever you’re struggling with. Not just your peers, but also your professors and older students.

You’ll definitely feel like you fit in in that regard, and even if you like you’re behind on something, you’re probably not.

If you think you’re lagging behind, you’re really not.

Shanni Lam

It’s O.K. to let yourself relax a little, and use late days. That’s why they’re given to you. Remember that you just have to turn things in by the deadline, you don’t have to do things right away, the moment they’re assigned. I did not take advantage of the first semester being graded pass/fail.

People always told me to take advantage of pass/fail, and I didn’t listen to them. So the prospective students probably won’t listen to me, and the cycle will go on.

Here, I think everyone is busy all the time, for social or work reasons. That means you won’t see certain groups of friends all the time, but there’s always other groups of people you can join. So, don’t stay too stuck on one group of friends. It’s good to have different groups you feel like you can belong in. That’s why I joined different clubs.

Additional Comments

“I’m from East dorm. I love my dorm so much. It’s rad. It’s a good time.” – Marz Barnes

“It’s always nap time.” – Isabel Duan


A picture of Marz sitting in a chair, wearing a red top.

Marz Barnes, Class of 2022.

The picture is a selfie of Shanni. She is wearing a jean jacket, and has blue, dyed hair.

Shanni Lam, Class of 2022

Thanks for reading! – Mason Acevedo