The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Katie is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology from which she holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering. She is an Atlanta tutor who specializes in Calculus tutoring, Earth Science tutoring, Geology tutoring, and much more. 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?
Katie: The campus is in the heart of midtown Atlanta, but it is very much a campus “bubble” environment. The campus is compact and easy to walk across in about 15 minutes. The campus bus system rings the campus and travels to the nearest train station. The area is quite hilly, but it can be biked if you are in shape. If you have an on-campus meal plan, there is no need for a car or bike. However, if you need to travel to the grocery store, you definitely need a car. The campus bus system provides a weekend grocery shuttle, but it is not convenient for most students. Traveling around the city does require a car, as the public transit options are limited.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Katie: The Georgia Institute of Technology (Tech) is a large school, so you do have to compete with a lot of other students for time with faculty. Generally, professors and teaching assistants (TAs) are more than happy to schedule a meeting, but you have to take the initiative and reach out to them. Advising is done on a school-by-school basis; some colleges have dedicated advisors, while some require that the academic faculty take on advising in addition to teaching. In the latter case, advising is minimal, and students really have to figure out their own schedules.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Katie: Campus is structured with two clusters of dorms, one on East Campus and the other on West Campus. Within those clusters, there is ample opportunity for socialization and interaction. There are two dining halls in the East cluster and one in the West cluster. The food is decent, but not spectacular. In the center of campus is the student center, with a wide variety of commercial dining options that are quite good. Life in the freshman experience dorms is a lot of fun—you live with other freshmen and often take the same classes. The rooms are small, but is the same not true of all dorms? Most of the dorm buildings have been renovated in the past five years, so the finishes are new and the buildings are much more energy efficient.
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?
Katie: Tech is most definitely an engineering school, first and foremost. I major in Aerospace Engineering, which is one of the shining stars in the school’s belt. While all of the engineering programs are difficult, they are some of the best in the nation. I chose Aerospace Engineering because I wanted to work in the space exploration field, and Tech allowed me to get started with that my freshman year through the co-op program. The school encourages and strongly supports co-oping, internships, and undergraduate research, which lets you start your career years before people at other schools.
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?
Katie: I met people very easily my freshman year, mostly through classes. I met many people in the freshman-only dorms. I bonded with the people around me in class, as well as my lab partners, some of whom I am still friends with today. Additionally, there are tons of student organizations that hold a fair during freshman orientation to recruit new members. While Greek organizations are present on campus, only a small portion of the student body participates.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Katie: My interaction with the Career Center was during my freshman year, when I worked with them to find a co-op job. They were incredibly helpful, providing resume work, counselors, and access to interviews. All the major companies come and recruit on campus during the career fairs (held each semester) and throughout the year. Most students find a job with their choice of employer quickly, and many receive multiple offers. Often the recruiters are Tech alumni, which makes the interviews much more friendly.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Katie: Dorm lounges fluctuate in their availability; they are empty most of the semester, then packed right before exams. The student center has limited study options, but the Undergraduate Learning Center/library is massive and has every possible studying option. There are many computer workstations for individuals and groups, rooms that you can reserve for group sessions, and study carrels for individuals. You do have to plan and reserve space during busy times, but you can find it. Also, Atlanta has great weather in the spring, so studying outside in the spring and summer is really nice.
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?
Katie: Like I said before, campus is kind of a bubble. Most students stay on campus, or just off-campus in an area called “Home Park,” for social activities. No one, students and residents alike, goes downtown for pretty much anything. However, there are lots of little neighborhoods to the north and east of campus that have great nightlife. The city can be a lot of fun, but sometimes you have to dig for what to do. We have fantastic restaurants for all palates and budgets, but our arts scene is limited. Atlanta is fairly close to the North Georgia mountains, so many students go hiking or camping as a close, weekend-long vacation.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Katie: The student body is large and growing, and there are definite growing pains in some areas. The introductory freshman classes often have several hundred people in lecture, and they may have additional sections added during registration. Upper-level classes are typically 30-50 people, depending on your major. While the classes are large, most professors and TAs are more than happy to work one-on-one with students who need help.
Classes are rarely canceled for low registration. You may have trouble getting the classes you want, and you are unlikely to have much ability to tailor your schedule in the first few years. In the upper-level classes, your school will usually only offer the classes that the bulk of the students need that semester, so you may get stuck taking an extra semester. It all depends on good planning early in your career.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Katie: My best experience was a combination of a class, a professor, and my co-op job. Starting in the second semester of my sophomore year, I worked at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the research arm of the school, as a research engineer. I alternated semesters between working full-time and attending school full-time. My boss at my co-op job served as a great mentor, and he encouraged me to enroll in his graduate-level classes that summer. I learned a ton, and I developed my independent research skills under his guidance. Those skills served me well throughout my undergraduate studies and set me up for graduate school.
Check out Katie’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.