The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Miranda received her bachelor’s degrees in journalism, Spanish, and international studies, a minor in German, and her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is currently a Washington D.C. tutor specializing in Spanish, German, and writing, among several other subjects. See what she had to say about her experience at the University of Missouri-Columbia:
Describe the campus setting and transportation options.
Miranda: The large campus is set adjacent to the main downtown Columbia business area, and both are easy to navigate on foot or by bike. The campus is set up to provide students with all or almost all of their basic needs, as it has dining halls and stores as well as accommodation and job opportunities all on site. In addition, the downtown area has many fun events, restaurants, and small shops.
The core area now even contains a full-size grocery store – Lucky’s – and a miniature Walmart, where students can find a variety of useful items.
However, students who wish to travel beyond this core area – for example, to visit big-box stores or hold an off-campus job – will probably need to have a car. Most students do have cars, even if they don’t use them daily, and some majors almost require it.
Columbia is a reasonably safe place, and I always felt comfortable moving around alone, even at night. However, robberies and sexual assaults do happen. I found it useful to subscribe to police and campus alerts and to not waste time when I was moving around alone at night, especially in parking garages and similarly secluded places.
How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Miranda: Very available. I never had trouble getting in touch for extra help or advice.
How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Miranda: The dorm life was wonderful, and I made many friends in the dorms.
My only complaint is that the dining plan is a bit draconian – everyone living in the dorms is required to have a minimum 11-meal per week plan, which was annoying to me as I liked to cook, go out to restaurants with friends, and usually just ate cereal in my room for breakfast. I had some wasted meals, even on the smallest plan.
The dining halls offer good quality and variety, but are also overcrowded and not as well set up for students just wanting to grab a quick meal on their own.
Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?
Miranda: Mizzou is an enormous school that offers a dizzying array of majors and programs. Journalism is very well represented and supported – to the point where it sometimes felt like a separate and fully functioning school on its own. I also studied Spanish, German, and anthropology, and while those schools were not as large or wealthy, I had no complaints.
How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?
Miranda: Greek life plays a significant role for some students, but exists fairly separately. As a non-Greek student, I didn’t feel discriminated against or left out. However, some dorms feed heavily into Greek life, so students should consider picking their dorm according to their Greek aspirations (or lack thereof).
I thought it was very easy to meet people and make friends as a freshman. It’s helpful to pick a dorm that shares your values and interests, but also to keep an open mind about all the different ways you can meet people on campus and in the wider community.
How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?
Miranda: The Career Center offers tutoring services, resume review, and mock interviews. I thought it was a strong resource, especially for students whose own academic programs are not large enough to offer those services independently.
How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?
Miranda: Sometimes computers can become scarce at peak times, as can prime study spots on the main floors of the student unions. One problem is that these areas are often set up to hold small groups of students, and at busy times these spots are often taken up by a single student, rendering four seats more or less taken.
However, if you know the areas well, you can always find a nice and private spot somewhere, often in a side room or in the upper stories of the libraries and unions.
Describe the surrounding town.
Miranda: Columbia is a lovely town and most students (coming from small towns, suburbs, and rural areas) are delighted by the variety of fun, outside establishments and activities, though some students coming from very active urban environments are disappointed. The downtown area is hip and fun, and very often frequented by students.
The area beyond is often ignored by students, for better or for worse. It has some nice spots that tend to be secret town gems, as well as some great parks, but it’s more of a typical, small Midwestern town with Walmarts, big box stores, and chain restaurants dominating.
How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Miranda: The student body is enormous, but shrinks as it gets subdivided into the many different academic programs and majors. Many general education classes and even some major-required courses are taught in huge lecture halls, but as you continue through your program, smaller, intimate classes offering lots of interaction with classmates and professors will predominate.
Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Miranda: I nearly missed out on the opportunity to take a class with Jacqui Banaszynski, one of the most highly regarded journalism professors at the Missouri School of Journalism. My final semester, I enrolled in one of her single credit classes, with a focus on interviewing skills. It was one of the densest and most magical courses I have ever taken. We were spellbound each moment of each class period, and the assignments really pushed us out of our comfort zones. I still think of that class regularly, almost every time I conduct an interview.
Check out Miranda’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.