The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Asti is a Seattle tutor and 2012 graduate of Washington State University. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and specializes in many tutoring subjects including ISEE prep tutoring, SSAT prep tutoring, Writing tutoring, and Biology tutoring. See what she had to say about her time as an undergraduate:
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?
Asti: Washington State University is located in Pullman, a college town in the middle of rural eastern Washington. Pullman has a small residential population, but the majority of its inhabitants are university students, which results in a fun atmosphere that is full of school spirit. The campus is extremely safe, with emergency call posts located throughout the campus. Campus and Pullman police regularly patrol College Hill, the university neighborhood, to ensure safety.
Washington State University is located at the top of a large hill, which makes getting to class somewhat tricky if you are lacking in motivation. Luckily, there is a bus system that runs throughout the university neighborhoods with buses arriving every seven to eight minutes throughout the day. It will deliver you to the base of campus. Additionally, many students choose to live on College Hill, which makes the walk to class less than half a mile. Bicycles are a popular choice, but make sure that you have one with gears because going up the hills can be a challenge!
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Asti: Depending on the classes that you take, the availability of the professors will vary. Generally, professors in large 100-level lectures can be a bit difficult to connect with, but I have never had a problem communicating with someone (often a teaching assistant) when needed. For upper-level courses within your major, the class sizes are great, and the faculty is extremely helpful. All of my professors knew me by name, and the department was filled with familiar faces and open doors. Academic advisers tend to be most available during the semester, and they are the most difficult to contact during registration periods because of the heavy workload. If you are looking to gain career advice, they have great resources—just be sure to schedule your appointment after syllabus week and before finals.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Asti: Dorm life varies tremendously depending on which dorm you live in. The Residence Hall Association and Student Entertainment Board do a great job of providing fun programming that will allow you to bond with your dorm-mates, and they even host a dorm homecoming for those students who decide the Greek system is not for them. The dining halls are delicious, and they are set up similar to a food court: there is an Asian station, a pizza shop, a coffee shop, a burger joint, a salad bar, and the usual dining hall fare. The locations of the dorms are all on campus, which means freshman year is probably the easiest year to get to class!
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?
Asti: The most popular and widely supported majors on campus are business, communication, engineering, and pre-veterinary medicine. I majored in political science pre-law, and I found that the collaboration within the college of Liberal Arts provided me with a great selection of classes within my major. There were many classes from criminal justice, ethnic studies, history, philosophy, and political science that were credited as pre-law classes. The Thomas S. Foley Institute also provided great connections for pre-law or policy-oriented students. Within the political science department were a number of highly regarded professors, a respected journal, and an abundance of career-oriented clubs like Honor's Society, Pre-Law Society, and the nationally recognized Mock Trial Team.
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?
Asti: Greek life is a large presence on campus, and they recruit heavily from the freshman class. That being said, making friends is very easy to do in Pullman because it is such a small town. Since the usual social venues found in the city are not available, students tend to bond quickly and form lasting friendships.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Asti: I am not very familiar with the services in the Career Center because my major was pre-law, so I was not focused on finding employment directly after graduation. That being said, I have noticed that they have a presence on campus, and they often host resume advising sessions and mock interviews.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Asti: The study areas are very accessible and rarely crowded. The student union has an expansive study area, and it is connected to the library for easy access. There are actually two libraries that are both connected. Within them are numerous study carrels and study rooms that can be used at any time. They have electrical outlet strips in every study carrel so you can charge your tablet, phone, and laptop while working. The library is open until midnight every night, and the student union opens 24 hours a day during dead week and finals week. It provides free coffee and doughnuts to those hitting the books. In addition to these areas, there are also too many study nooks in each building to count. My two favorite areas were in Todd Hall on the ground floor in a sunny spot called the Atrium, and a moody cafe near the music building called Zoe.
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?
Asti: Pullman does not have much to offer off-campus. There are two grocery stores, a Walmart, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and a handful of bars and restaurants. One of the biggest complaints about Pullman is that "it is in the middle of nowhere." While this can be a difficult transition for city-lovers, it also makes for a unique college experience in which students get to live in a town that is run by and for university students. There is nothing in Pullman that does not completely support the Washington State University Cougars, and the unity and closeness of the student body can be felt throughout the town. Since it is such a small and safe area, it is not uncommon to see doors to apartments and dorms propped open on a Friday night open to anyone wearing a Cougar shirt!
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Asti: The student body is roughly 20,000 students. Some of the class sizes are quite large in the freshmen general requirement classes, but, overall, the class sizes tend to be 40 people or less. In addition, if you are an individual who cares about class sizes and attends class regularly, you will soon realize that although there are 40 individuals registered for the class, the only time the class is at capacity is on exam days. In most of my classes, there were a select group of roughly 15-20 students who sat in front and participated every class, which contributed to the feeling of a small private school.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Asti: I remember taking Environmental Science 101 in a large lecture section during the summer semester. Although I was sure that I would be just another face in the crowd, I was amazed to see the time and dedication that my professor, Dr. Beal, put into making sure that I understood and enjoyed the course. After graduation, I joined Teach for America and began teaching science. I reached out to Dr. Beal for inspiration as to how to make science interesting and engaging to students who may not otherwise enjoy the subject. Not only did she go above and beyond in providing me with ideas and materials, I was shocked to learn that she remembered who I was all these years later! As great as this experience was, I am happy to say that it is not all that unique for Washington State University. I have great relationships with most of my professors, which has come in handy on my law school applications!
Check out Asti’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.