College Corner: Fordham University, Lincoln Center (Featuring Cat Reynolds)

“Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, is committed to the discovery of Wisdom and the transmission of Learning, through research and through undergraduate, graduate and professional education of the highest quality. Guided by its Catholic and Jesuit traditions, Fordham fosters the intellectual, moral and religious development of its students and prepares them for leadership in a global society.”

Cat Reynolds is a ray of sunshine. I really don’t know any other way to describe her. From her beautiful and colorful Instagram, you can see so as well. She is the person you would want to be friends with in college. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Cat about Fordham University and her fascinating journey as an English major.

Tell us about what you're studying!
I am an English major with a Creative Writing concentration. For this degree, I take one theory class, two pre-1800s classes, three literature classes, and five creative writing classes in addition to the core. This is different than the general English degree, and the Creative Writing concentration is application-only during your sophomore or junior year, only accepting fifteen students a year. We also have an English honors program, but you can’t apply until your junior year so I don’t know much about it yet. 

Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m from everywhere--California, Arizona, Kentucky, Ohio, Rio de Janeiro, Texas, Florida--take your pick! I was a big military brat growing up, so moving so far away from home, while difficult, was definitely made easier with my history of moving and adapting to new places. I’ve been a writer for as long as I could hold a crayon. I was also a drama queen and despite not being very good at it, loved theater. By freshman year of high school, I had written my first musical, and then three more. I was hooked. Throughout high school, I wrote songs, plays, and musicals and had various productions in Houston, and even came out with an album! It was a great experience and a huge part of the reason I came to New York City for school [was] so that I could continue to pursue writing for musical theatre. I also love books. Like, I-run-a-nerdy-bookstagram-account-love-books.

What's the best part of studying at Fordham University?
The English department and small class size [are] what has kept me at Fordham (that, and the city, of course!). Fordham has the highest-paid English majors in the nation, which is so cool! Not to mention the faculty and students all really care for each other and each other's work. If someone can help you, they will. The English department is made of people who want to encourage you and build you up, not compete with you or be better than you. I also love the class sizes, it makes for amazing discussion and getting to know your peers and professors (even if it means you can’t get away with not showing up to class). 

New York City, let's talk about it. What's the best and worst part of the city?
Best: food, theater, culture. It’s one of the hubs of the world for everything you can imagine, especially for the creative arts. New York City gets a bad rep for having rude people, and that’s not true. It’s a city full of people with ambition. They know what they’re doing and where they’re going and God help anyone who gets in their way. NYC takes dreamers and turns them into doers. 

Worst: Cost. Obviously. Yes, there’s “always something going on,” but how much will it cost you? Even a free event that’s a train ride away is going to cost you a soon-to-be $7 round trip. Food and rent prices are wildly inflated, and so is just about everything else. New York City is also cold. Both literally and metaphorically. I’ve lived in tropical and/or hot climates most of my life, so my body was not ready for a Northern winter. I would spend weeks inside (Fordham College Lincoln Center has underground tunnels that connect all the buildings so you never really have to go outside…). But I also realize that’s just me and my poor circulation. Metaphorically, however, the city is freezing. You feel small. You feel lonely. You feel isolated. It’s a phenomenon to be studied as to how a city of over eight million people can make you feel so utterly alone. New York City has no mercy. Some people say it makes you or breaks you, but I don’t believe that’s true. It’s about what’s right for you. New York is nothing and everything you expect it to be, a city of paradoxes. If you get here and it’s not your cup of tea, you did not fail. You are not weak. Choosing true happiness and your own path over what you expected to be happiness and your path is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s brave. Be warned: Anyone who says they love New York City has never lived in New York City. (Or is trying to impress their friends and family.)

Was the whole process of getting into Fordham pain-free?
Very. I had never even heard of Fordham, but they kept sending me emails my senior year. They waived my application fee and essay, so the whole process probably took about fifteen minutes. I hear a lot of people who went through similar processes. Fordham is very savvy about reaching out to potential students. 

What are the students at Fordham like?
The students at the two different campuses are very different. Rose Hill and Lincoln Center might as well be different schools, the education and cultures are so contrasting. Lincoln Center is the more liberal and artsy of the two. There are a lot of social justice events and cultural activities always going on. FCLC students are passionate about the world, whatever their view of it may be, and are less focused on the “college experience.” 

How are the professors?
Like any school, there are the good and bad ones. Most of the professors who teach the core are adjunct or grad students, and they’re tired and don’t want to be teaching students who are uninterested in the subject as much as you don’t want to learn about it. They’re kind and helpful, but it feels like high school. Once you get into your major and minor classes, you’ll encounter passionate professors invested in you as a person, not just you as a student or a name on a roster. 

How were your stats, activities, and essay for your Fordham application?
I had above average grades. I made mostly A’s through all of high school and was in the top quarter of my class of about 900. I made a 2040 on the SAT (on the previous scoring system), which was my main academic selling point. As far as activities, I had them out the wazoo. I also had unique activities that showed a line of interest throughout my highschool career that I recommend. Okay, so you’re in Key Club and NHS, so is everyone else. What makes you special? What do you care about? Start a club. Volunteer. Make a small business. Do what you can to stand out, but do it in a way that you’re following your heart, not the guidebooks. I believe that’s what got me into the schools that I did, not grades. Fordham has a huge variety of students. Some have average grades but outstanding extracurriculars, some had minimal extracurriculars but outstanding grades. Fordham accepts you for your potential.

How is the social scene at Fordham? Was it easy to ease in and make friends?
To be honest, FCLC becomes cliquey very fast. Since it’s such a small campus, it can feel like high school at times. It wasn’t really until my second semester freshman year [that] I found a great group of friends, and before that, I felt very alone. It wasn’t until my second semester sophomore year that I really found my place in the Fordham community.

What do you want to say to the upcoming students that may be applying to Fordham?
Think carefully. Don’t be blinded by the bright lights of New York City. Look at Fordham as a school, not a destination.  

What do you think is a stereotype for Fordham students?
FCLC: Artsy, SJW potheads. Clad in black with a cigarette in one hand and a protest sign in the other on the plaza between classes. 
FCRH: Republican, racist partiers. Preppy and loud.
Disclaimer: Neither of these [is] true!! 

How would you describe your experience at Fordham?

Positive and negative. The institution and administration [are] questionable at best. The way they handle mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, etc. is incredibly troubling. However, it is the resilient faculty and warm student body that have kept me here, along with the astounding education, environment, and experience Fordham has to offer.

By Wen Hsiao