The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Patrice is a St. Louis tutor specializing in Chemistry tutoring, Biology tutoring, ACT prep tutoring, and more. She is a 2012 graduate of Saint Louis University with a degree in Biochemistry. Check out her review of her alma mater:
VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?
Patrice: Saint Louis University (SLU) is a medium-sized campus in an urban area. It’s a very beautiful campus. When it is warm out, there are tons of people hanging out in the quad, relaxing. Often there are events going on outside through campus. Because it is in an urban area, there are safety concerns and incidents do happen. However, many incidents can be prevented by being safe and smart. Examples are calling an escort to walk or drive you from one part of campus to another when it is dark outside and traveling in groups at night. A bike or car is not necessary but they are helpful. Most people can walk from one end of campus to another within 10-15 minutes. There is a shuttle that takes people from the main campus to the medical campus. Also, the campus does provide transportation services over the weekend to shuttle people to the mall, grocery store, Wal-Mart, and Target. Public transportation stops for the bus and train are also near campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Patrice: All of my professors and TA’s had regularly scheduled office hours. If their hours did not fit within my schedule and I needed to meet with them, it was easy to set up an appointment. All of my professors were open to meeting with students and were usually prompt when responding to emails.
I never had any issues meeting with academic advisers. However, I did only meet with them when necessary. They do get busy during certain parts of the semester and it may be difficult to meet with them then, but my advisers were great with squeezing me in.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Patrice: The living arrangements vary on campus. There are traditional freshman dorms which consist of two people to a room with community bathrooms. There was also another option for freshmen which consisted of 3-4 people to a room with a private bathroom in each room. The upperclassmen housing ranged from typical dorm rooms, suites (where two rooms are connected by a bathroom), and on-campus apartments. There are a variety of dining options. There are cafeterias in the freshman dorms, the student center, library, and other buildings and dorms. I did enjoy the variety of dining options as an upperclassman. However, I felt that the options in the smaller freshman dorms weren’t always vegetarian friendly. The chefs and managers do often ask for feedback and there is also a vegetarian-only restaurant on campus. The weekend options on campus are very limited.
It was very easy to socialize and make friends. I lived on a floor where many of the students had the same majors and were often in the same classes. Additionally, during the first week of freshman year, there are a ton of activities on campus and by the RA’s to help everyone get to know each other. I also met many people who received the same scholarship as I did because of the requirements that often brought us together. During the beginning of the year, there is a large Activities Fair in the quad. There, clubs and organizations set up booths so people can learn about the different organizations on campus and get involved. Clubs are a great way to make new friends.
VT: 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?
Patrice: In my opinion, many students studied Health Care or Business. A lot of students at SLU are pre-med, Nursing, Physical Therapy, or Business. I was a Biochemistry major enrolled as pre-med. With so many students enrolled as pre-med, there is an office dedicated to helping those students. There are advisors who are helpful and some resources there as well. However, most pre-med students have to be proactive and become familiar with the advisors there. I chose Biochemistry because I fell in love with chemistry in high school and I thought it would be a good back-up plan if I chose not to go into medicine. The Chemistry department is a fairly small department, which makes it easy to get to know the professors and peers. There are also ample opportunities to do research within the department or become a TA or grading assistant for the large Chemistry lectures. The head of the department also sends out job opportunities and internships opportunities from local companies that recruit Chemistry students.
VT: 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?
Patrice: I found that it was pretty easy to make friends and overall, people on campus are very friendly. I did not choose to get involved in Greek life but there were a number of sororities and fraternities on campus and I would often see them fundraising on campus, volunteering, and going to Greek events. One does not have to become a member of Greek life to make friends but it is a good opportunity to make friends and build strong bonds with other members.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Patrice: The Career Center is helpful. They offer help with interviewing and resume writing. This is a very good resource for students applying to graduate or professional schools and for people who are looking to intern or begin their careers. They also have a website so you can find jobs on campus. When you sign up for the website, one of the representatives will look at your resume and approve it or offer help to strengthen it before you begin applying to jobs. Additionally, there are a number of career fairs and graduate school fairs that allow companies to recruit on campus.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Patrice: There are a number of study spaces available. The library is spacious and has been recently renovated. I have often found rooms to study in in the student center, study rooms in dorms, and other classroom buildings. While there is ample space to study, it becomes very difficult to find space during finals and mid-terms. The library is open 24 hours and the student center has extended hours during mid-terms and finals. During those times, my friends and I have relied on each other to find a quiet space for us to study. It was very helpful to have others secure a place to study.
VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus?
Patrice: Because it is in a city, there are a number of things to do that are fun. Making friends and going out with them to explore the city is a memorable part of my undergraduate years. The Delmar Loop is a great place for people to hang out, eat, and visit local shops. There are a number of attractions like the Gateway Arch, City Museum, the Zoo, and Art Museums – all of which are very affordable. I attended a number of concerts. Our campus has an arena where touring artists perform and sometimes there are discounted or even free tickets for students. The Fox Theater is also within walking distance of the campus. The theater houses a number of musicals and performing artists as well. There are a number of neighborhoods, such as Soulard and Laclede’s Landing, where students go for nightlife.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Patrice: SLU is a medium sized school. I was pleased overall with the class sizes. I had a few larger lecture classes such as General Biology and History. However, with History, there are smaller courses offered. With the larger lecture, 2 lectures in a week were in the large lecture hall and the third lecture day in the week happened in a smaller class with a TA. Because I was a Biochemistry major, my Chemistry classes were about 30-40 people versus 200-300 in the normal Chemistry lectures. I also felt labs were appropriately sized so that the TA could effectively assist everyone. Classes such as Math, Theology, Philosophy, and English usually ranged from 20-50 people. My Foreign Language classes, Piano, Dance, and jewelry-making class had no more than 12 people. With those classes, a lot of one-on-one is needed with the teachers and because they were so small, it was very easy to talk to the professors.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Patrice: One of the classes that I took really stands out in my memory - Jewelry-making and Metalsmithing. I learned a lot and the class allowed me to be very expressive and work on problem solving in a hands-on manner. I was able to create things I never knew I could. It was a great experience and it inspires me to be creative.
Check out Patrice’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.