Taylor Oeschger, ‘13, is a freshman at Montana State University in Bozeman. She is double majoring in chemical engineering and bioengineering.
Q: Wow—double majoring? That sounds intense. Why did you decide to double major?
A: Well, there are just so many engineering majors that it was hard to choose. So I decided not to choose and just do two instead because why not?
Q: How does double majoring work? Did you have to apply for it?
A: You just have to say you want to do both chemical and bioengineering, and then (the school) will say okay. That means instead of taking just the classes for chemical engineering or just the classes for bioengineering, I’ll get a combination. (The school) has a special plan for (this double major) that takes four-and-a-half years, but with my AP credit, I’m hoping to get it done within four.
Q: So you can declare a double major as a freshman?
A: Yeah, so I actually don’t have bioengineering declared right now because for the first three semesters, the plans for chemical engineering, bioengineering and the double major are all the same—so it doesn’t matter if you have it declared. But for myself it’s declared; it’s just not written on a piece of paper somewhere.
Q: What classes are you taking this semester?
A: I’m taking Honors College Chemistry I, Multivariable Calculus, and Texts and Critics—it’s like an English type class in which we read a bunch of books, sit in a group and discuss them for two hours and then write a bunch of essays. It’s really annoying, but it’s a required class for the honors college. The other class is Intro to Chemical Engineering.
Q: Which is your favorite?
A: Multivariable Calculus. It’s my most challenging class, which keeps me focused. It’s really fascinating because it talks about multiple dimensions a lot, which is something I haven’t really thought about. And my teacher is really great. We walked into the first day of class and she was like “no dropped tests, no curves, no graded homework,” and she was really strict about it. But then all in all she’s really reasonable. She doesn’t baby the students like my other teachers. She’s really passionate about what she’s teaching, and her class is really entertaining. Because I’m the only freshman in that class, at first I was like “Oh no—everyone’s used to this and I’m new. This is going to be a struggle.” But I worked really hard and did well on my first test.
Q: Tell me about the honors college that you’re in. Did you have to apply for it?
A: Yeah, there was a application around the time when I applied for admission. From what I’ve heard, a lot of people are in honors college, but they don’t actually plan to pursue a degree from it because it’s more work—but I plan to stick with it. It is (more work) but it’s a different kind of work. There’s a lot less graded homework; it’s a lot more “Here’s the homework: you don’t have to turn it in, but if you don’t, you’ll fail the test.” So you have to stay on top of it for yourself (and) be very self-motivated in order to do well.
Q: How’s the weather in Montana? Are you getting used to it?
A: It’s cold. (The high in Bozeman today is 66 degrees and the low is 33.) We had the first snowfall in the country on like Sept. 27. It stuck to the ground and a couple days later, we had like full-on snowmen outside the doors and snowball fights and all that snow stuff. I’m also already banned from driving in the snow by my friends. They were like “Yeah…you’re a California girl, and you’ve never driven in snow. Let us take care of the driving for you.” (The weather) took a little bit of getting used to in the beginning—it was pretty warm at first, and all of a sudden it got cold. I was like “What happened to fall?”
Q: How’s your dorm?
Q: All freshmen are required to live on campus, but they have different living options. There are the freshman apartments, (coed) dorms, two dorms that are all girls, one that’s for 21 and older, one’s that all guys and ones that are called the quads, where I’m living. There are six of (the quads)—A through F. The best way to describe them is calling them sorority or frat houses but with normal students. The one I’m in is an honors quad and houses 13 guys and 8 girls, and all students in it are in the honors college. It’s a lot quieter there and easier to study. We have a lot of space in our rooms, a big dining room, a living room and a full kitchen.
Q: Why did you choose to live in a quad instead of a freshman dorm?
A: I wanted a more homelike atmosphere—it just seems more comfortable. When you go to college, there are just so many changes at once, and it’s nice to have something that’s more homelike.
Q: Any extracurriculars?
A: I don’t really have that much time for clubs and everything. I’m trying to focus on schoolwork and my job. I got a job at the library on campus. I’m shelving books half the time and working at the front counter checking out books for the other half. I work 16 hours a week for $8.50 an hour. The people there are really nice—all the workers are students and if you have free time, you can do homework. If you need to leave earlier for class, they’re fine with that most of the time. Working at the library is the work-study for part of my financial aid. It’s just nice to support myself to get a start on paying off college loans.
Q: Have you ventured into nearby towns or cities?
A: Yes, I have. Bozeman is a really good college town—you can walk everywhere, and downtown isn’t very far away. There’s a little mall—very small compared to those in California—but a mall nonetheless. Some big things there are hiking, snowboarding, skiing and mountain biking.
Q: What has disappointed you about MSU?
A: I’m a little disappointed with some of my teachers just because one of the reasons I didn’t go to a UC was that I wanted classes to be taught by professors. And with some of my teachers it feels like they shouldn’t be teachers—one of them I can tell is here for research. I’m just so used to Country Day teachers. who are really dedicated teachers who live what they do.
Q: Any advice for the class of ‘14?
A: I guess this pertains to juniors more, but I’ll say that everyone should take both the ACT and SAT. Some people just do a lot better on one test—you never know what will happen. I did a lot better on the ACT than the SAT, which I studied for.