Indiana University - Bloomington
Indiana University - Bloomington - Comments and Student Experiences|
I actually don't have a ton of complaints academically. There are good and bad professors, like there are anywhere. The only serious issue I had was with an idiotic grad student who upon grading a philosophy paper of mine deemed my ideas "stupid" and "insane." He thought his world view was under attack, and lashed out, despite the fact that his world view was not being addressed one way or another in reality. Truthfully, though most of the faculty are not too bad. There is an alarming number of classes taught by grad students, but if you're like me, and are an in-state student, you can get a lot of these classes out of the way before you get there (one nice thing about this school). You should know that despite the good financial aid for in-state students, there is almost ZERO aid for summer school. I wanted to get the hell out of school my last semester and only did summer school to speed that process up, not because it was anywhere close to a good deal.
The telecommunications department was ok overall. I had some good instructors, some of the material was mildly interesting, but I cannot say that anything I learned was earth shattering. The main lesson I learned, which every potential college student should realize, is that schools are going rapidly online. Almost all my work was not only turned in online, often times the lectures were posted online after class, and almost all homework and research material came from articles and studies found on the internet. This begs the question...why the tuition rates for an almost totally online education?
By far the best part of my experience at IU was getting a music minor from the Music in General Studies department. If you choose to go here and are musically inclined at all, I highly recommend this option. You MUST take the History of Rock and Roll classes from Dr. Glenn Gass and Professor Andy Hollinden. These guys and their classes were lifesavers for me. They made my college experience tolerable enough for me to finish my degree, and gave me a legitimate reason to go to class that didn't involve my grade being held hostage. They and most other faculty members in this department are very friendly, nice, and informed people who will help you whenever they can.
As far as the administrative part of the university goes, heed the advice of the negative reviews. They are in fact unorganized bureaucratic organizations who only serve the purpose of passing the buck to others and blaming you for your problems. The funding for this school is mostly used for unnecessary and wasteful building construction and to fund the big money maker; the athletics. Oh and to fund the exorbitant salaries of the higher-ups in the university. They apparently don't believe in providing enough convenient parking on campus for both visitors and students alike (freshman get especially shafted here). The university makes a ton of money off of parking tickets. If you dare park in the wrong space, you either get ticketed or towed. I once parked in a space that I was permitted to park in, only to be ticketed TWICE in one week because my permit "wasn't visible enough." While I got those waived, this place is ALL about nickeling and diming you. Anything to create a bogus fee for, they will. They also don't believe in funding food that is worth eating in any of the dining halls. You are guaranteed to gain the freshman 15 at least. Any off campus dining that isn't a chain restaurant is exorbitantly expensive, leaving a vast number of students out of luck (believe me, the non meal plan food is good, but not good enough to go bankrupt for). Apparently funding useful programs for students is also less important than construction projects that chip away at the much touted scenery that people like to praise here. This school is essentially a for-profit, cutthroat capitalistic corporation that disguises itself as a public university.
The worst part of my experience here was the social scene. Granted, at no point in my life would I have ever won an award for "socialite of the year." However, in most walks of my life, I've managed at least a few friends to pass the time doing activities with. Due to my personality, my expectations socially were not that high. I never did buy into the whole "college will transform my life and be the best time ever" doctrine (and neither should anyone else anywhere). I figured I would make a few friends eventually, maybe start a good band (which I would've loved to do), and if I got REAL lucky, I might get laid (okay this was purely wishful thinking, but a guy can dream can't he?).
You can see where this is headed. I made absolutely ZERO friends there. I would be hard pressed to come up with a name of ANYONE I met in any setting there. I knew plenty of people from my hometown that went there, but this place is so large you almost NEVER see them (besides I wasn't close to most of them anyway), and while I had some old friends who were older than me attending there, they all had their own lives that I didn't fit into. That's not a criticism of them, just a statement of fact. I'm not one who likes to generalize populations of people (that's a very problematic cycle of thinking to get into), but as far as I can tell, there are 5 basic groups of people who attend this university.
1. Jocks/Former Jocks and their significant others: The largest group by quite a bit, this group is all about going through the academic motions so they can stay drunk 24/7. You can spot them in class either discussing past or future plans to get hammered at various Greek houses and sporting events, or by their constant use of social media, largely thumbing through pictures of their partying, their own selfies, or the exotic vacations that someone paid for them to take.
2. The pretentious and snobby "artsy" and intentionally "weird" people (aka Hipsters): These people are this way in response to group number one, but in many ways they are just as bad. This group is the reason I stayed out of the so called "awesome music scene" here. These people are incredibly condescending and holier than thou. If you dare challenge their artistic opinions, they may inwardly or outwardly insult you or your opinions. They enjoy being odd for the sake of being odd, not because they are actually that way. I could never play in a band in this town because these people make up most of the musicians and a good amount of the audience. Therefore, you either have to be entirely about roots music (which is actually good music, but the interest in it seems to be for the wrong reasons), or you have to be weird for the sake of being weird, and not because it is genuine. It's either this crowd or you're stuck catering to group #1. I'll pass on both.
3. The laser-focused "I'm here for academics only" kids: I actually respect these people more than most. They aren't very friendly, but they know what they want in life and are going for it. That's more than I could say, and if that's what you want, kudos.
4. The foreign exchange students trying to survive: If you see these people and can help them out in any way, do so. As bad as my experience was there, I can only imagine what their experience is like. Not that they are all miserable, but when you come from half a world away and don't speak the native language, you need help, and Bloomington is surprisingly poor at that. This goes to show that IU wants diversity on paper, but doesn't really give a damn about it on a personal basis.
5. The outliers left with their disillusionment: I fell squarely in this group. I think there were a good number of kids in this group, and our spirits were all broken by going here, and our motivation to socialize was drained. If we seem unfriendly, its because we're not liking our setting, it's not personal. I realize that this doesn't help the socialization of this place, but its the result of a contagiously bad vibe that is given by going here. If you're like me and reading this, I hope you're doing well and finished your degree or found something that made you happy. We could all use it.
One of the things IU is gains prestige with is its music school. What you don't know from the outside looking in is that it is only for a very specific type of musician. You either need to be all about classical or all about jazz. Everything else is resented and frowned upon. They also want to bury you in theory to your eyeballs, and they use law and medical school style techniques to weed people out. This is why I decided against even applying to enter this school, despite the fact that music is far and away my number one interest in life. I am not saying that knowing some of the things that are taught there isn't worthwhile, but you are made to fit their mold, and you are made to make their reputation soar even more. You are not meant to be helped a whole lot, and your individual style is a downright BAD thing here. I had to attend lots of performances for my minor, and while the musicians were virtuosic at what they did, I was bored out of my mind. Bear in mind, I am a rock guy, but I enjoy good music of all styles, as any good musician should. I would leave these performances cold, mostly because I was hearing a computer-like performance, as opposed to a performance that actually resonated with the audience. It was the same with the Jazz program, which is terrible considering that Jazz is all about personality.
It should be no wonder that guys and girls like me have no place at IU. If the music school actually bothered to reach out to rock musicians in a performance setting (and actually got out of the 18th century), the school and university as a result would flourish. The only class that even resembles what I'm talking about is the Soul Revue in the Afro-American Studies department (which unfortunately due to schedule conflicts I couldn't join, but the best of luck to that group). It would be so easy for the music school to create a program for rock and modern music. Classes where people perform and play and write in band settings would be very much appreciated, and then all that's left is to leave practice space for them (which is currently totally of limits to non-Jacobs students). This is especially important for drummers like me. If you weren't as lucky as me to be able to go home on the weekends and play, you will get very rusty, despite your best intentions. The Music in General Studies department does their best, and their efforts are much appreciated, but there needs to be more. But far be it from this institution to keep up with the times, they'd rather stick their heads in the sand and say it isn't so.
As for the town itself, maybe it was once a cool place like the university supposedly was. To this day most people gasp if you say ANYTHING negative about Bloomington. Keep in mind, I have lived in southern Indiana my whole life, so I know a thing or two about this region. So believe me when I say that aside from the obligatory "college town" style of stores and a few trendy and outrageously expensive restaurants and bars, this is just another small Midwestern town that unlike most other towns of its size and location, has gotten so full of itself it's disgusting. Not that there never anything cool going on. I can't fault the Lotus Festival. Frankly though, the entertainment here can be found other places in very short driving distances. When I was a kid, my parents would tell me about all the cool shows they saw at the IU Auditorium, Assembly Hall, and the Buskirk-Chumley theater downtown. While I did catch a few cool shows there, it was pretty disappointing overall. Even university staff will tell you that. Due once again to the need for tall buildings and floundering athletics, the student union has almost no money for quality entertainment, making even the Little 500 concerts a complete joke (not that Little 500 is worth anything anyway).
Another thing that gets brought up all the time is how "liberal" the community is. As someone who has been a proud liberal his entire life, it pains me to say what I'm about to say, because this is a classic conservative inaccurate talking point, but unfortunately it seems to apply here. A lot of the "liberal ideology" that goes around Bloomington is pretty artificial. There are some genuine old hippies that live about town, some who work at IU and some who don't. But the student body for the most part is full of crap in this category. They act and talk liberal because its fashionable, not because they know what they are talking about or even give a damn about these things in real life. As someone who prides himself on being informed, this is really disheartening to me.
In the end, coming to IU was the biggest mistake I ever made. Aside from the Music in General Studies department, which I am eternally grateful for (and for all the other nice faculty at IU), this is a toxic environment. I was in a horrible mood almost every day I was there, and was so glad I got to finish my degree in three years and a summer session. Its true when people say that no one makes eye contact with anyone, that the Greek system rules the school, and that IU swallows Bloomington whole. I went home every weekend because I had no reason to be there. When I was there I ended up being holed up in my room with nothing to do because of the social climate, which is not a healthy position to be in. Again, as a native to this region, I hate that this town and university are this way, because it makes the people that come from here look bad. The truth is there are plenty of people who are just as disgusted about this as many of you other negative reviewers, but we feel afraid to say anything for lack of social inclusion. I currently having a low paying job that is nowhere near the field of my major, but I don't care. I'm so much happier without IU in my life. In hindsight, I wish I had came up with a plan that didn't involve college at all, but that's just me. I'm warning others to avoid here if they can. While there were some positives to my experience here, there were a whole lot more negatives, and I wasn't even a victim of assault or any other traumatic experience. To the faculty who were nice to me, I thank you. For the rest of the community and university, I want as little to do with you in the future as possible. I'll go see a cool show there if I have to, but aside from that very rare and occasional occurrence, I hope I never have to be associated with the school or town again.