The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Michelle is a Pittsburgh tutor specializing in Algebra tutoring, Reading tutoring, Phonics tutoring, and much more. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University in 2011. Check out her review of her experience at Indiana 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?
Michelle: Indiana University is often considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation. It is a great place to walk around, and it makes the stroll to class enjoyable. The town itself is eclectic and creative, featuring cuisine from all over the world, many inviting performance spaces, and tons of small businesses. It is considered an urban campus, but the town and the university are divided by Indiana Avenue. Both are easily accessible by foot. The university and city both offer busing options that are free to students, and they run quite often. Having a car on campus is not necessary, but it can be helpful for grocery shopping or trips to Walmart.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Michelle: During my time at Indiana University, I often met with professors. They were always willing to meet in person or to have a conversation over email. Before class, after class, or office hours were always available. I also had a very good relationship with my academic adviser, who would schedule appointments with me at any time during the semester.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Michelle: At Indiana University, dorms are designated by neighborhood: Northwest, Central, Southeast, etc. When you request dorms, you request by neighborhood, not specific building. There are many options to choose from, including themed floors ranging from outdoor sports, to the global village, to honors. During the year, there are plenty of social events planned by floor and also by dorm. They are widely advertised on bulletin boards and on walking paths in chalk.
Dining-wise, Indiana University is the place to be! The two biggest dining halls are in Northwest and Central. However, there are also smaller food options in many of the dorms. Some are vegetarian, others are cafeteria-style. There are also dorm convenience stores called “C Stores” that take meal points. I encourage students to visit as many dining halls as they can.
After freshman year, there are some newer suite-style dorms available. However, it is not unusual for upperclassmen to live in off-campus apartments and houses.
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?
Michelle: Indiana University is a proud research institution. Professors are often highly regarded in their fields. The two most prestigious programs are the Kelley School of Business and the Jacobs School of Music. Both of those programs are very challenging to get into, and they hold high reputations in their industries. However, many other areas of study are high ranking but do not receive as much advertising.
I studied elementary education with the School of Education. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher right away, which was helpful because the program is very rigorous with many prerequisites. There were many professional opportunities and programs provided through the School of Education. Additionally, I felt the faculty and advisors were knowledgeable and helpful throughout my tenure.
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?
Michelle: Making friends is easy if you take advantage of the opportunities afforded you. Social groups and activities are advertised on dorm bulletin boards, on chalkings throughout campus, and in the student paper—The Indiana Daily Student (or IDS). There are lots of different groups, some social and some community service oriented. During the first week of the fall semester there is a student activity fair, and it is a great place to look for clubs to join.
Greek life at Indiana University is very large, but it is not everything. I myself was a member of a sorority. I made wonderful friends and was able to take a large leadership role. I also felt more involved in campus events, such as Little 500. However, I also had friends outside of Greek life who were very social and involved.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Michelle: The Career Center was helpful, but the advisers within each school tend to be more knowledgeable about specific fields. There were many support services on campus, but you need to know where to look. Also, I have many friends from the university that now work for Kohl’s, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Google, and Deloitte. Internships are important, as well as taking advantage of networking available through Indiana University events. Most of these friends earned degrees through the business school and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Michelle: There are lots of study areas around campus. What makes this great is that there are different types of spaces for students who want various environments to do work in. Indiana University has one of the largest student unions in the nation, and it includes many different spaces to work. One of the coziest is the South Lounge, which many refer to as “Hogwarts.” There is also a Starbucks with sprawling tables. There are computer labs and other communal seating areas all throughout campus. Additionally, most academic buildings have their own libraries.
The main library, Herman Wells, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each floor serves its own purpose: group work, computer stations, presentation rooms, and the graduate tower stacks. Also, the library has many dining options including Chick-Fil-A and Pizza Hut.
Some study spaces are more popular than others, and they often get more crowded during midterms and finals. Students tend to find the spaces on campus that work best for their schedule and style of work.
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?
Michelle: Indiana University is in Bloomington, Indiana, which is easily one of the best college towns in the nation. Known for its beauty and culture, there is always something fun to do. The town is integrated into the university, but it really begins just past the Sample Gates. Kirkwood is the main street, filled with shops both local and chain. Bloomington offers endless dining options for any budget. 4th Street is known for its blocks of foreign restaurants. Besides the dozens of restaurants, Bloomington has many local stores and businesses. Walking into town is always an adventure, with lots of choices for shopping at interesting stores.
Bloomington is also big on local and organic food. They have their own version of Whole Foods called Blooming Foods, and there is a huge weekly farmers’ market from August to November.
For students over 21, there are many, many bars in and around the square—something for any crowd or mood you may be in. There is also locally brewed beer at Upland and a winery, Oliver, just 30 minutes away. Students at Indiana University barely notice being on- or off-campus. Campus is part of the city, and the city feels like an extension of the university.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Michelle: Indiana University serves about 40,000 students, most of whom are undergraduates. It is a large student body, but by getting involved with clubs and campus groups, it starts to feel very small. I was pleased with my class sizes. I found it to be a myth that large colleges only provide lectures. While my introduction courses and some program requirements included large lectures, the majority of my classes had about 30 students in them. Also, most of the large lectures also had smaller discussion sections that met at separate times during the week.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Michelle: Even though I majored in elementary education, I was eager to explore many subjects in college, including political science. I took Introduction to Political Science as an elective during the fall semester of my freshman year. My professor was expressive and interested in what we were studying. He also loved to facilitate class discussions that often turned one student’s views on another. Our readings included The Republic by Plato, one of the most difficult texts I have ever encountered. The professor recognized this and offered extra review classes with the two teaching assistants to help. I also went to see him during office hours for help with our final paper, one that I agonized over and spent hours on. He was very helpful and constructive. This professor also offered me guidance when I lamented that I could not add a political science minor onto my elementary education major. He gave me advice about how to fit in other political science courses and which ones would be most beneficial.
Although I only took one class with him, for the rest of my time at Indiana University, he would always stop to chat or say hello when I saw him on campus. Big schools can have small school connections and relationships—you just need to foster them.
Check out Michelle’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.