FRESHMAN FOCUS: Math major Cissy Shi finds classes at Carnegie Mellon ‘intense’

Cissy Shi, ‘14, is a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn. She is majoring in math in the Mellon College of Science. 

Q: What did you do for orientation?

A: We had different activities for each day. The first couple days we just hung out with people from our dorm.

The middle part was the academic part, where we had dinner and hung out with people from our school. Since I’m in the Mellon College of Science, we actually went to the Carnegie Science Center at night for a  movie and some science demonstrations.

The last few days we were getting to know the campus and the area around us.

It was fun, but very tiring. We had to leave our dorms around 8:30 a.m., and we got back around midnight because we had so many activities.


Q: What classes are you taking?

A: I’m taking Matrix Series, which is an honors version of basic matrix. I’m also taking Concepts of Mathematics, which is an introductory course for computer science majors and math majors.

I’m also taking a programming class called Fundamentals of Programming. Apparently it’s one of the best classes they have.

I am enrolled in an English class for international students because they didn’t take my AP credits.

There are two seminars. One is computing, which I could have done over the summer. The other is where we prepare for the Putnam, which is a math competition. Basically we just do problem solving together with this awesome professor who is the coach for the international science Olympiad team.


Q: How are the classes?

A: We are just going over schedule stuff right now, but I would definitely say it’s an intense school. I had an essay due the first week.

My matrix series teacher gave us a five-minute intro to class and then started to teach us new stuff.

The classes I’m taking right now, I’ve never done anything related to them (besides English) before, so it’s kind of hard for me.

CMU has a lot of really smart people. I’ll be reading the question, and other people will be shouting out answers.


Q: Any extracurriculars?

A: We haven’t had our club fair yet, so I don’t know what there is for me. But I’m going to do some volunteering.

We make cards for children who are sick and are from a very poor background. Throughout the year we will visit these kids.


Q: How do you like the campus?

A: It’s tiny. It’s like Country Day. Okay, it’s bigger than Country Day.

But I can stay up late, and it’s easy to get to my classes in the morning because everything is so close by.

The annoying thing is I feel like the library is really small too.

Since we have so many people, the lunch lines are always long. I had to skip lunch the other day because I didn’t have the time to stand in line.


Q: How’s the food?

A: Right now, it’s okay. We have different stations with different types of foods, so that makes everything a little better. It’s doable. You have so many options, you can always find one or two things that you like.


Q: What surprised you?
A: My dorm room is way too small. It’s so small to the point that we can’t put a refrigerator in here!

Not that that matters because they shipped my refrigerator to my aunt’s house because that’s the primary address on my Amazon account. Now she has to ship it to me. Remember to change your address when you go to college!


Q: Any advice for the class of 2015?

A: Carnegie Mellon is cool. Come here. We have different programs. We have programs for people interested in humanities and science, specially designed for people who are talented. They are also starting a program combining engineering and art, so you can basically do anything you want to.

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