The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Cheyenne is a senior pre-med student at Baylor University. She currently tutors in Austin, Texas, specializing in science tutoring, SAT Math tutoring, and a number of other subjects. See what she had to share about her experience at Baylor University:
Describe the campus setting and transportation options.
Cheyenne: Campus setting here at Baylor University is very simple. The campus is around 1,000 acres in size, and getting around to classes has been very easy for me. I used a bike for the first couple of years, but now I simply walk to my classes. It takes me around 20 minutes to walk from where I live (about a block from campus) to my classes. Buildings are arranged so that relatively the same subjects are taught within them, and each area of campus is both like the others and unique in their own way. Not to mention that the entire setting is beautiful! There have been numerous renovations over my experience here, and even before them landscaping was kept to perfection. There is no shortage of nice, peaceful outdoor settings to study in or even just relax, including gardens and fountains. There are buses that run around the campus as well, for students that do not prefer to walk or bike to their classes — which can be useful for students who struggle to find a parking spot in time and walk to class from there (parking has been increasingly limited and difficult due to increasing class size). I do feel safe on campus as I walk to class daily, and there are plenty of open spaces and great lighting once the sun goes down.
How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants at Baylor University?
Cheyenne: Professors, academic advisors, and teaching assistants are all very available, either by appointment or during their office hours — in which a student will have the opportunity to discuss challenging concepts or really anything else they need to with a professor. Office hours for some of the larger classes (and for science majors, these are usually the most important and challenging ones), may seem like a waste of time, as students literally flood the office of the professor not even five minutes after their office hours have begun. These larger classes, however, very commonly offer supplemental instruction. Supplemental instruction occurs at a time set different from the regular meeting time for that class, and is led by a current student chosen by the professor and who has made excellent scores in that class previously. This helps students prepare for tests and improve their overall grade in the class by helping to clarify concepts they struggle with, as well as look into what exactly the professor’s expectations are.
How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Cheyenne: Dorm life for me was a little challenging, as it is for most students entering college for their first year. Baylor requires that each student enrolling freshman year live in a dorm on campus, unless requirements are met in order to be allowed to live off-campus. Of course, some dorms are better than others; there are two basic Men’s dorms and two basic Women’s dorms, as well as multiple (and much nicer and cleaner) honors dorms or “living-learning communities” that students can apply to live in based on their interests (like the outdoor adventure community) or their field of study (like Earl hall for students with a health and science background). It should be noted that, although one may apply to be in one of the specialized living-learning communities, some of them do require living there for two years. Although dorm life and quality may vary, dining options most definitely do not — they are all wonderful. There is always lots of variety in all of the dining halls, they are kept clean, and those working there are always very kind. Socialization with other students in the dorms was very easy — there are plenty of social events planned and there is always a large turnout of people for these events.
Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?
Cheyenne: Business and science majors are usually the most represented majors, however, I feel that Baylor has an excellent program in whichever major field of study a student chooses to pursue. I chose my major to be Health Science Studies, as this is “the major” that you should choose for a pre-professional track such as pre-med or pre-dent. When choosing a major to being with, however, I did feel pressured to choose this major, and was not informed that I could still have a focus on a pre-medical school plan while choosing another. Orientation was very busy and hectic and I did feel a bit lost in the crowd; however, after I began taking classes, there were many tools and tips offered to me by the university that I could use to succeed.
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?
Cheyenne: It was very easy for me to make friends as a freshman, as there are so many social events and traditions to take part in that you can only experience as a freshman. Greek life does play a role in campus social life, and a lot of university traditions, such as homecoming and Pigskin (a Broadway-style competition that is open to all groups), are very much centered on Greek life and Greek organizations. I did not join a sorority, and there were many clubs and associations that were available to me that I made sure to be a part of based off of my interests in the scientific community.
How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services at Baylor University?
Cheyenne: The career center is very helpful in that students have opportunities to explore different careers that would work with their major. You can walk in at any time or by appointment to explore options and discuss passions and pathways with a member of staff. Many reputable companies recruit on campus, and there are multiple job fairs every year to attend. Approaching the fall of my senior year, I have been emailed at least five times with employment opportunities for after graduation from organizations that are looking specifically for Baylor students.
How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?
Cheyenne: Libraries are great and spacious; however, the areas in which volume level is not controlled get crowded very easily during the evening, as a lot of students use these areas for more of a social study time than quiet study time. That being said, I have never failed to find a spot to work alone, as there are many available areas other than just the library to hit the books. All you need to do as a student is find what setting works for you and then figure the time of day when that setting usually occurs; as students tend to swarm study areas in waves based on the time of day.
Describe the surrounding town.
Cheyenne: There are plenty of places to go downtown for (of age) nightlife, and during the day students can visit the zoo, museums, go shopping, hiking in Cameron park, or even explore downtown — choosing from artisan shops and places to eat. Students go outside of campus a lot for entertainment, although there are plenty of recreational activities on campus to enjoy — such as the Bear Trail and, when the weather allows, a marina — that are cheap for students to use and rent out things like paddleboards or kayaks in order to explore the Brazos river.
How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes at Baylor University?
Cheyenne: The student body here is no more than 15,000 students. I was okay with my class size as a freshman, but looking now at incoming classes, it seems they are increasing in size. Last year I remember hearing that there were more students admitted than there was room for housing on campus. Housing was eventually provided for these students; however, I feel that increasing incoming class size can eventually have a negative impact on the quality of educational experience.
Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Cheyenne: My best experiences were in small classes. Even though I am science major, my most memorable class experience would be during a required American Literature class I took my sophomore year. There were maybe twenty students in the class at the most, and even though there was structure in reading and writing assignments, it mainly focused on time and getting things done on time, leaving the assignment to be truly making some assertions about the material. My professor led the class as a discussion over what we read in preparation, and made sure to give historical context to everything we experienced. I feel that with this style of teaching I was really able to dive into the material, even though I am more of a “scientific mind.” I found the true value of literature as it relates to my own life and took with me after the conclusion of that class the ability to apply works of literature to the world around me, as well as examine it for assertions and observations about life as a human being.
Check out Cheyenne’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.