FRESHMAN FOCUS: Passion for stock market pushes Ben Felix, ’16, to change major, day trade at Purdue

(Photo used by permission of Felix)
Donning his Christmas suit, Ben Felix, ’16, (middle) puts his arms around two of his best friends, Janzin Cripe (left) and Trent McCrary (right), at a Christmas party before winter break.

Ben Felix, ‘16, attends Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, the main campus of the Purdue University system. He started out majoring in geology but plans to switch to economics.

Q: What attracted you to Purdue?

A: I like how it’s a large school and how there (are) 30,000 students, along with the fact that I went to a small high school for four years. And it’s also well known throughout the country.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: This semester I’m taking calculus, econ, personal finance and communications.

The smallest classes have around 30 people, and the larger ones, like econ, have around 400. I like the size. They also tape all the lectures and put them online so you can watch them again.

You just don’t get the personal feel with the teacher, obviously, so reaching out to them will help a lot.

Q: How are your professors?

A: My personal finance teacher I can already tell will be my favorite teacher in college. He’s incredibly cool, he’s knowledgeable and he talks about cool stuff like stocks, which I love.

My last semester’s math teacher was a quack. She was a horrible teacher – no one liked her. If you can picture that one old lady living with a hundred cats in a room, that would be her.

Q: Favorite class?

A: Personal finance. They talk a lot about stocks and different investment strategies, which is my favorite thing. I love stocks, and I day trade (buy and sell stocks within 24 hours) now, so I’m really thinking about investing, and I just love that class. They talk about (what I need to know).

Q: Least favorite?

A: I’ll have to go with math. It’s hard, and it sucks. It just sucks.

Q: Why the change in major?

A: I started out in geology, but it took me two weeks to realize I hate rocks. I hated my geology lab. Staring at rocks for two hours was horrible.

I love investing, so I’m trying to switch into economics now.

Q: Have you participated in any traditions?

A: Yes. This week is Grand Prix week; it’s a big tradition at Purdue. At the end of the week, there is a big Grand Prix race. So every fraternity and a lot of the dorms will have a go-cart. They have a track here, and they’ll race.

It’s a ginormous event and a big party week. This is like the biggest week of the school year – every night it’s nuts.

Q: Any clubs or extracurriculars?

A: I’m part of the Purdue Investment Club, and I also joined a fraternity last semester: Phi Kappa Tau.

I (think) I made a mistake rushing during the fall semester. I have a lot of friends in the fraternity, but I would say it’s not a perfect fit. My two best friends in college ended up waiting for spring semester, and they joined together and ended up in the one that most of my friends on campus were in.

It’s good to wait for spring semester because all through fall semester, people will invite you to parties to meet the guys, and you really get to know them before you join.

Q: What’s the general feel of Purdue?

A: It’s a good atmosphere. People online write how Purdue is a hard school, but when everyone comes, no matter what your GPA was – my friends got straight 4’s in high school and everything – it ends up being 10 times harder than people say it is online. Everyone here is dying of studying, dying of homework, dying of test grades.

But people have a lot of fun here too. They blow off steam on the weekends. The dorms are super fun, but they get old really fast. There’s a good downtown atmosphere. The college town here is super nice, and everyone hangs out there. Once you become 21, there’s a lot of bars.

Q: How is your personal workload?

A: Last semester I took 16 credits, and I had about three quizzes a week in one class that was strictly math. In every class you have about three homework assignments per week; some of them (have) more, but most of them (assign) three. And (there are) huge projects. You’re looking at about five hours a day for homework!

No matter how many APs you’re in in high school, it’s so much academic stuff. The whole academic life here is insanely hard.

(Photo used by permission of Felix)
Ben Felix, ’16, (middle) attends a Purdue football game with friends.

Q: How has the Indiana weather been?

A: Unpredictable. It was cold as hell a week ago, and it’s humid as hell right now.

It’ll rain in a second. Even if it’s a sunny day, it’ll rain sideways and just start pouring for 15 minutes. And if it catches you while you’re walking to class, you’re screwed.

Q: So you walk to classes?

A:  Yeah. There (are) a lot of buses, and a lot of students take them. I’ll usually walk to class and then wait to take the bus back.  

It’s a pretty big campus, so a walk to class usually takes 15-20 minutes.

Q: What’s your dorm like?

A: I’m in a medium-sized one, and it has 600 people, boys and girls. Some are really big. The one next to me is ginormous and has like 1,300 kids in it.

My roommate first semester was pretty weird, which freaked me out.

He would talk way too loud and scream at the TV during sporting events (and) randomly look at me weird when we were both in the room without saying anything. Plus, he would go to go to bed at 8 p.m. every day (and act) surprised that I would dare to come in the room at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night.

But he ended up transferring schools, and now I have a normal roommate who I’m friends with.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about Purdue?

A: Midwest people are super nice. I met my three best friends here in the dorms. (If) you go out of your way to meet people the first couple days, it really pays off. You spend every second of your time with them, so you get super close.

Q: Any surprises about Purdue or college in general?

A: Everyone thinks college is incredibly hard, but like I said, it’s far harder than you think. People usually hear that you have to study two hours for every credit you have – now times that by 10!

I thought going to college was super cool because I could have afternoon classes and do my work at night to sleep in during the mornings, but that’s dead wrong. That’s awful.

First semester I kind of had that mentality. I had one early-morning class, and I would go back and nap for three hours in my dorm and do all my (work) at night. But your grades are way worse if you do that. It’s just easier to do stuff in the morning while you’re focused so that you can have fun at night.

You get the groove of it, though. You work with your advisers, and they really help you out.

Q: How is Purdue special?

A: I would say the kind of reputation it has. For example, I went to a job fair the first semester, and loads of companies came in. I ended landing a bunch of interviews, and I found out that they come here expecting to hire most of their interns. Their career center is number two in the nation, so I think that’s one of the biggest positives of going here.

A lot of people that I met, like older guys in my fraternity, lock down jobs early in their junior year. Companies will hire them out of here.

And they had the most astronauts ever for a college! Neil Armstrong came back for a weekend (once), and he was hanging with a bunch of the students.

So I would definitely say the alumni can easily get you a job here and also just connections.

Q: Advice for the class of 2017?

A: The second you get to campus, reach out for help. Build a relationship with your adviser.

Last semester I was looking for a spot in the personal finance class, and it was all taken up. And my adviser knew that I was trying to change majors and that that stuff interested me, and she was like, “Oh, I can get you a spot.”

I don’t know if she kicked out somebody or (if) they made an extra spot, but she got me in the class.

By Mohini Rye

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