The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Julia is a San Francisco-Bay Area tutor and 2011 graduate of Tufts University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and tutors several subjects, specializing in Elementary Math tutoring, Psychology tutoring, and SAT prep tutoring. Check out what Julia had to say about her time at Tufts University:
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?
Julia: Tufts University is a very small campus, so it is possible to walk everywhere. You will be in great shape walking up and down the hills all day! You really only need a car if you are traveling off-campus for grocery shopping or other tasks. The T (or subway) is great if you want to go into Boston, and it is easy to catch it from Davis Square. Davis Square is about a 15-minute walk from campus, but there is also a shuttle that travels back and forth.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Julia: I had great experiences with my professors and my adviser. When I first started school, I was very stubborn about not wanting to ask for help. However, I soon realized that I was really only letting myself down. All of the professors that I went to for help were thrilled that I was showing initiative and interest in the topic, and they made themselves very available to me. Part of the reason I chose to go to a smaller school was to have relationships with faculty members, and I feel I was able to achieve this. I cannot say enough good things about my adviser! He was absolutely amazing. We developed a strong relationship, and I am still in contact with him today.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Julia: I really enjoyed dorm life! I only spent my freshman year in a dorm, as I went on to live in my sorority house and off-campus. The dorm rooms are pretty simple, but it is easy to decorate and personalize them. There are two dining halls on campus, one that is uphill and one that is downhill. Everyone has a preference about which they like better, but they are both great. Tufts University has pretty fantastic food, so avoid the Freshman 15! I loved my freshman year dorm because it was very centrally located. I was 100 feet from the dining hall, and all of my classes were a five-minute walk away. Tufts University always has a million things going on, so there are many socialization opportunities available! Just check Tuftslife.com. At the beginning of the school year, there are a lot of events planned just for freshmen, so you can make friends easily and quickly.
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?
Julia: Tufts University has a great International Relations department and a very highly rated Child Development department. I minored in Child Development and majored in Psychology. I chose to study Psychology because I loved my introductory classes, and all of the professors that I had were great. Tufts University does not make you choose a major until the end of your sophomore year, and they encourage you to take classes in many different fields. They really support you in finding the right fit. I loved my department and my adviser, and I do not think I have met anyone who does not feel the same.
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?
Julia: Tufts University does not have a large Greek life. There were three sororities while I was attending school (2007-2011) and about ten fraternities. There is absolutely no need to join Greek life to make friends, because there are tons of other clubs, groups, teams, etc. It was also easy to make friends in my dorm and in my classes. I did choose to join a sorority because I wanted to expand my social circle even more. Everyone in my sorority was involved in several different campus activities, so by joining the sorority, I also ended up involved in sports, clubs, and philanthropic activities. Tufts University also offers pre-orientation groups for freshmen, which I highly recommend! I did the wilderness pre-orientation group, which involves backpacking along the Appalachian Trail for about five days before school starts. This ensures that you already know a few people when you get to campus, which I greatly appreciated.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Julia: I cannot say that I used the Career Center very much, but I heard good things about it. There is a large job fair in the spring that attracts a lot of great companies. Everyone I know ended up with a job they were happy with after graduation, and many of my friends have gone on to medical school or law school.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Julia: I love Tisch Library at Tufts University. First, it is huge, so you never have to worry about finding somewhere to sit. It also has social areas where you can sit with friends, eat snacks, and talk. (There are quiet areas for when you really need to get down to business.) There are several smaller libraries on campus that friends of mine went to, but I was always happy with Tisch Library. There are also several cafes on and around campus that I went to when I got sick of the library. I did not spend a lot of time in my dorm lounge.
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?
Julia: Tufts University is in a really great location. It has its own downtown area (Davis Square), but it is also very close to Cambridge and Boston. I probably went into Davis Square once or twice a week and into Cambridge or Boston once a month. Campus life is pretty fun, so leaving campus was not necessary. However, there were some fun bars and restaurants in Davis Square, as well as a movie theater/concert venue. When you wanted to go shopping or to an area bigger than Davis Square, Cambridge was a five-minute subway ride away, and downtown Boston was about 20 minutes away. I remember going to the aquarium in Boston, checking out Quincy Market and the North End, walking down Newbury Street, and visiting the Boston Commons. Overall, it was an amazing place to go to school.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Julia: Size was a big part of my attraction to Tufts University. I knew I wanted a school that was bigger than my high school, because I did not want to know everyone by the time I graduated. I wanted to constantly be meeting new people! However, I also did not want to be overwhelmed by the student body. I wanted to find a niche that I was comfortable with, and I did not want to get lost in the shuffle. Tufts University was the perfect size for that, with about 5,000 undergraduates. Introductory classes were always pretty large, but most of my classes by junior and senior year were under 20 people, some even under 10. It was great to have classes that small because they were much more personal. Professors actually knew your name and got to know you over the course of the semester.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Julia: During my sophomore year, I ended up in a class that was very difficult for me. For some reason, the information did not click. After the first test, I realized I was going to have to change my strategy if I was going to earn a passing grade. I began sitting in the front row, asking the professor lots of questions before and after class, and studying a lot. When our final exam was approaching, I hit the books, and I hit them hard. I went into the exam feeling really good… but that did not last long. I left the test close to tears – I was sure I had failed. I was waiting outside the classroom for a friend of mine to finish when the professor came out to check on me. When he asked how I thought the test had gone, I broke into tears. I still remember what my professor said to me at that moment: “This test is just a small part of your grade. I have seen the effort you have put into this class, and I know how hard you have worked. I see you in the front row every class, and all of that will be reflected in your grade.” Later that day, he emailed me to let me know that I had ended up with a B in the class. This moment sticks out in my mind because it was the first time I realized how much the professors really cared. He wanted me to do well almost as much as I wanted to do well! It also felt really good to know that my hard work was noticed and appreciated, even in a subject that was really difficult for me. That moment taught me to always put in the extra effort because you never know who is paying attention.
Check out Julia’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.