A Day in the Life at Purdue University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Matthew earned bachelor’s degrees in both Spanish and physics from Purdue University. He is currently a Chicago tutor specializing in algebra tutoring, physics tutoring, and Spanish tutoring, among other subjects. Take a look below at his review of Purdue University:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options.

Matthew: With a population of roughly 40,000 undergraduates, Purdue University is by no means a small school. While not quite as spread out as a commuter college, or as condensed as a small private college, the university maintains a good size while still managing to be walkable. The city bus network connects students to all areas of campus, as well as to the neighboring city of Lafayette and the surrounding residential areas. So, whether you live one minute or 15 minutes away from campus, transportation to and from is always available. If speed is your priority, however, a car/bike is recommended.  

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Matthew: Professors are always available and are happy to meet with you, as well as the TAs. Depending on the department, however, the academic advisers can be difficult to deal with or even to see. If you ever need help, there are usually help rooms. Sometimes there are also supplemental instruction (SI) sessions, in which a TA teaches a lesson to supplement what was learned in class.  As you get farther along in your major, however, it’s usually the case that you just have office hours if you need help. At that level, the teachers are always interested in teaching students more about whatever the subject may be.

How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Matthew: Dining is fantastic at Purdue University. In fact, the food is nationally ranked. With five dining courts, two late night grilles, cafes, and coffee shops located around campus — as well as facilities at the student union — all of which to choose from, there is no reason one should go hungry at Purdue. With two years of experience living in the dorms, I can say that it’s definitely something everyone should experience when they first come to college. You’re right on campus, situated along the bus routes, and are surrounded by students like you. It’s great for keeping you focused, as well as for making new connections. The dorms usually have weekend activities and trips if you can’t find something to do that weekend.  

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at Purdue University?

Matthew: Engineering, Agriculture, Pharmacy, and Nursing are all well represented and well supported at Purdue University. It is well known for its engineering program, however, the school was founded as a land grant institution meaning that it had to offer programs that supported disciplines like agriculture. Also, being that it is located in Indiana, there are plenty of nearby locations — as well as outside interests — that donate money to the school to fund research in this area.

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?

Matthew: I have always said that there has never been an easier time to make friends at college than during the first few weeks of freshman year.  Each year preceding the fall semester is a week-long orientation called Boiler Gold Rush (BGR) in which incoming freshmen get the chance to become acquainted with the campus. It’s a fantastic event and many students who meet during that event remain friends up to and through graduation. In addition, Greek life is very important at Purdue. Roughly 40% of the campus is involved in some sort of Greek organization. However, not being involved doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be missing out.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services at Purdue University? 

Matthew: The Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) at Purdue is amazing. They offer a wide range of services ranging from resume critiquing, to mock interviews, to the organizing of career fairs for each of the individual colleges.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Matthew: The availability of on-campus study spots, during the day, is incredible. I’ve been at the university for four years and I’m still finding a new one each week. There is also a large number of computer stations spaced evenly around campus. Usually, each academic building has its own library and set of computers that are accessible to students and which stay open late. A 24-hour undergraduate library is open at the heart of campus and is frequently used, but never crowded (with the exception of finals week).

Describe the surrounding town at Purdue University.

Matthew: The campus is situated in West Lafayette and borders the Wabash River, and across from it sits the town of Lafayette. Other than hiking trails, there isn’t much in the way of natural attractions, and as such, many students take trips to Chicago (two hours away) on the weekends. Sadly, Chauncey Hill is the most exciting part of campus. It’s home to mostly fast food restaurants, a couple of coffee shops, and a few bars. Lafayette, while also not very exciting, has more variety in the way of restaurants and stores. However, if you plan to go to the mall or grocery shopping, you’ll probably be making a trip into Lafayette.

How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Matthew: The undergraduate student body at Purdue University is around 40,000 people, yet there are plenty of times at which it can seem like a lot less. Depending on your major, your class size can vary. For example,  if you choose a major in the Liberal Arts college, most of your classes will be small with anywhere from 10-30 people. However, if you choose to major in a scientific field, then your classes can start out with anywhere from 200-300 students. But by the time you reach your junior and senior years, they often shrink to around 30-50.  


Check out Matthew’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.