The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Grant is a New York City tutor specializing in AP English tutoring, History tutoring, all levels of French tutoring, and more. He graduated from University of Missouri in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. See what he had to say about his 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?
Grant: Columbia, Missouri is a safe college town, with about 89,000 permanent residents and another 36,000 students split between two private colleges and a university. All freshmen at the University of Missouri (affectionately called Mizzou) are required to live on campus, which is adjacent to the downtown area. Both are very walkable, and as dining and limited grocery shopping are available on campus, many freshmen forgo a car. After freshman year, there are housing options very close to campus (some across the street), but many students also move farther away to live in bigger or less expensive housing. For the latter, a car is necessary to get to and from campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Grant: This depends a great deal on the type of class (big lecture versus small seminar) and the school or department in which students are enrolled. Both teaching assistants and professors are required to hold a minimum number of office hours per class, but professors of large lectures may be more difficult to see during office hours (particularly close to exam time). Teaching assistants are generally easier to see, and many large lectures have online forums where students can post questions and receive responses from teaching assistants and professors, usually within 24 hours. Also, departments with smaller classes and programs (e.g. Romance Languages and mid- to high-level Economics) have greater contact time with professors and academic advisers. In general, higher-level courses across all programs have smaller classes and greater interaction with teaching staff.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Grant: Many dorms are new or recently renovated, and many have vibrant social scenes and many organized activities to help build a sense of community. There are also many dining options (some better than others), and both dorms and dining halls are all located on campus. There is also a larger sense of community forged by sporting events, when thousands of students attend football and basketball games.
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?
Grant: The University of Missouri is perhaps best known for its School of Journalism. As the oldest journalism school in the country, it is one of the most popular and well-supported programs. The Trulaske College of Business is particularly well-funded, as well as life sciences (particularly related to livestock or agriculture). I studied Economics and French, both in the College of Arts and Sciences. While not exceptionally well-supported, both programs have attracted a number of excellent professors, and I was generally pleased with my learning experience. There are a number of other well-respected programs, such as the College of Engineering, and the Schools of Law and Medicine.
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?
Grant: I was in a fraternity, so socializing was fairly easy. Greek Life has a very significant presence at Mizzou, with around 25% of students belonging to a fraternity or sorority. For those who don't think Greek Life is right for them, however, many students make their closest friends in their freshmen dorms, and there are also a variety of clubs and societies to suit the interests of students. It is definitely important to find a niche in such a large university!
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Grant: I cannot speak to the quality of the Career Center, as I never used their services. There are regular career fairs and networking events, sometimes organized by the Career Center and sometimes by individual schools or departments. In terms of other student support, there is an excellent counseling center, where students can see a trained counselor for free. There is also an excellent fitness center on campus and free tutoring for qualifying students (usually students with learning difficulties or from low-income backgrounds).
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Grant: Study spaces and the library become more crowded during exam time, but many of the classroom buildings are open late and are available for studying. I don't think I ever spent more than a couple of minutes looking for a place to study quietly.
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?
Grant: Campus is directly next to downtown, which is the center of the city's social life. There are numerous restaurants, concerts venues, bars, and theaters. It's a very vibrant place during the academic year but can definitely get a bit boring during the summer. There are also some excellent outdoor opportunities, with easy access to the Katy Trail for hiking and cycling. The Lake of the Ozarks is 45 minutes away, and there are also a number of rivers and streams in that area for canoeing/floating.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Grant: There are about 27,000 undergraduates, and a few thousand graduate students. While most entry-level classes are large lectures, the all have small (~20 person) seminars. Many of my classes were much smaller (30 students or less), and by my junior year, I never had another large lecture. Some of my classes in high-level economics or French had a dozen students. Ways to avoid large classes are by taking honors courses, courses in small departments, and entering with advanced credit (e.g. AP/IB credit), which allows students to bypass many large, entry-level classes.
Check out Grant’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.