The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Meghan is a 2011 graduate of Saint Louis University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. She currently specializes in many subjects in St. Louis including Elementary Math tutoring, Calculus tutoring, and ACT prep tutoring. See what she had to say about 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?
Meghan: Saint Louis University (SLU) is located in the SLU/Midtown section of St. Louis, MO. It is an oasis in the middle of an urban area, with a ton of green space and streets closed off to cars. Campus is extremely walkable, but many students also choose to bike from class to class, leaving their bikes on racks outside the buildings.
Transportation options include your own car (or a friend’s!) which you can park in covered and uncovered garages or on the street, a free shuttle to and from the Medical Center (where many of the health sciences classes are held), a free shuttle to and from certain stores (grocery, the mall, etc.) on weekends, a light rail system called the MetroLink that will take you anywhere from Busch Stadium (Go Cardinals!) out directly to Lambert Airport, and of course walking and biking.
SLU recognizes that they are located in the middle of a city, and makes safety of its staff and students a huge priority both in the buildings and on the grounds. SLU’s residence halls require a student to use his or her student ID to swipe into the building, and again at the front desk to check in. The grounds at SLU are patrolled 24/7 by the Department of Public Safety, both on bikes and on foot. In addition, there are “emergency button” poles with bright blue lights at the top scattered across campus which alert Public Safety officers to respond when pushed. Because of the value SLU places on safety, I always felt at ease on campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Meghan: I found professors, academic advisors, and teaching assistants to all be very available. When my schedule conflicted with office hours, my professors were open to compromising on alternative meeting times that worked for both of us! Students are required to meet with their academic advisor every semester to schedule classes, and time slots fill up very quickly. My academic advisors always accommodated if all the meeting times I could make were already taken. Many of my teaching assistants gave out their cell phone numbers for questions, and would generally respond within half an hour. Overall, everyone at SLU was very willing to make themselves available to help.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Meghan: SLU has many different style options for on-campus living, as well as many apartment complexes right around campus. SLU students are required to live on campus for their freshman and sophomore years (commuters are exempt), and can then choose to live on- or off-campus for their third year and beyond. First-year options for on-campus housing include several traditional dormitory-style spaces, and upperclassman options include dormitory-style as well as several different apartment-style options.
Residence halls at SLU are spread throughout campus. Every student you talk to will tell you that wherever they lived their first year was the best place to be; the RA’s and other housing staff do a great job of fostering community within the residence halls! Whether you choose to be in an intentional Learning Community formed around a common theme (such as sustainability or ethical business practice), or not, you will find a ton of opportunities to socialize in your residence hall and on campus.
There are a multitude of options for food, including two large dining halls on campus with buffet-style service, two other locations with several restaurant chain options in each, a convenience store, and an all-vegetarian place. Right around campus there are several fast-food and sit-down restaurant options as well.
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?
Meghan: SLU offers almost 100 different undergraduate programs, and the faculty and academic advisors are really willing to help you make your time at SLU your own! Even though I was in Parks, the school of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, I was also able to graduate with a minor in Theological Studies. I thought this would be impossible, but with support and planning I made it happen.
I chose BME because it combines many things about which I am passionate: math, science, “how stuff works,” and the ability to directly help people through my career. The BME department at SLU is a very close-knit family; the class sizes are small and every professor in the department knows every student. Because of this, I always felt supported in my studies. I knew I could always go to a professor for help with an assignment or advice on grad school or careers.
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?
Meghan: SLU is an extremely friendly campus. I credit this sense of community for my easy transition into college; there were tons of Welcome Week events to attend to meet other students, and my RA planned a lot of “floor outings” throughout the year to help us get to know the classmates living with us. I am still, 7 years later, best friends with the girls I met on my floor freshman year!
Greek life is unique at SLU, with no sorority or fraternity houses on campus. If you choose to be a member of a Greek organization, you can opt to live in Greek housing in a dormitory-style space as an upperclassman. Greek life is big enough at SLU to be a presence, but not so large that you feel as though you “have to be Greek.”
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Meghan: The support services SLU provides are very helpful! After graduation, I served for a year through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Since I have been back home, I have been tutoring with Varsity Tutors and working with SLU Career Services to find an engineering position. My career counselor has provided resume tips, cover letter guidelines, and advised new ways to job search. Many of my friends have been recruited by well-respected companies on campus, and the Career Fair at SLU expands to include more (and better!) companies every year.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Meghan: When the weather is nice, students will study in the quad, by the pond or on steps near the clock tower. The Pius Library just underwent a massive, beautiful renovation, with soft seating, large tables, alcoves, and conference rooms with board space which students can sign out. The Busch Student Center (BSC) has tons of conference rooms with tables in which anyone can study. Many classroom buildings also stay open in the evenings for student use. I loved utilizing the BSC, and never had a problem finding a place to settle in for the evening.
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?
Meghan: One of my favorite things about SLU is its location in the middle of St. Louis. There is always something to do, like going to a Cardinals’, Blues’, or Rams’ game, heading to Forest Park to sled down Art Hill in winter, going to South Grand for ethnic food, hitting the Delmar Loop for dinner or a concert, or getting student tickets for the symphony at Powell Hall or a musical at the Fox Theatre.
Forest Park is a massive park of well over 1,000 acres located just west of SLU. Admission to almost everything there is free, including the zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, and Science Center. Yes, I said FREE! You can always find something to do there, with ball fields, bike paths, paddleboats, and all sorts of entertainment throughout the year.
Several of SLU’s on-campus art galleries are actually a part of Grand Center, St. Louis’ performing arts district, with the Fox Theatre, Powell Hall, The Black Rep, Jazz St. Louis, and many more performance venues, art galleries, museums, and restaurants located right up the street. I was able to get discounted show tickets more often than not for being a SLU student!
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Meghan: SLU has about 8,000 undergraduate students and about 5,000 grad students. I thought this was the perfect size for undergrad! It was small enough that I didn’t feel lost or overwhelmed in a huge crowd, but large enough that I was still meeting new people my senior year. My typical class size was less than 30 students, many times less than 20. This was great for getting individualized attention!
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Meghan: My most memorable class was Senior Design, because my partners and I spent so much time and hard work to take what we had learned over our entire time at SLU and apply it. At times everything seemed hopeless, other times everything fell into place, and at the end of it our device actually worked as intended! I will never forget that sense of satisfaction. I will always remember everything I learned about teamwork, de-bugging, problem-solving, trouble-shooting, and compromising throughout that class.
Check out Meghan’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.