The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Benjamin graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2012 where he studied Environmental Studies and Anthropology. He currently tutors in Washington D.C., specializing in Trigonometry tutoring, Biology tutoring, Reading tutoring, and much more. See what he had to say about his 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?
Benjamin: There is plenty of parking, but it’s expensive. However, you really don’t need a car because everything–including off-campus housing–is close to campus. The campus is also finally getting more bike friendly, with racks, divided walkways, etc.
Regarding safety, I think the school does well as a whole to keep crime under control. I never feel unsafe on campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Benjamin: Faculty are typically very approachable, especially for small classes. I developed some really great relationships that I still cherish today.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life - rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Benjamin: Dorm life at Wash U was definitely a highlight, especially with the newly constructed dining hall. However, food was really expensive, so you're definitely paying for quality. Regarding housing, it's almost too nice. I liked living in an older dorm that felt like college; the new dorms feel more like hotels.
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?
Benjamin: Yes and no. I double-majored in Environmental Science and Anthropology. Wash U is GREAT for Anthropology and I loved all of my classes and faculty, many of which were renowned in their field. However, despite an apparent push for sustainability on campus, Environmental Science was a very poor major. Classes did not provide tangible skills and–unless you went the science route–it was pretty much a joke.
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?
Benjamin: I didn’t vibe well with the Greek Life scene, so the fact that around 40% of undergrads were Greek was sort of a let down. However, there are other places to make good friends and the school is large enough to find people like you.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Benjamin: If you use the resources provided, they are extremely helpful. The CC is definitely catered to business students, which is a bummer, but my career advisor was nonetheless amazing and an exceptional resource. In general, though, the school is very focused on your future success and less so on your immediate needs.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Benjamin: There were a ridiculous amount of libraries, which was nice. However, I always found the main library extremely depressing and stressful. Generally, there are plenty of places to study and they are usually not too crowded. This makes sense considering people are constantly studying.
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?
Benjamin: Every year I grew to love St. Louis more, but it definitely was not love at first sight. There are pockets of culture throughout the city, so once you find them, there is a lot to do and see. Most students typically only make it to a nearby street called the Delmar Loop, which is decorated with bars, shops, and eateries. St. Louis is actually fun once you get to know it!
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Benjamin: I went the science route, so I was actually displeased with the class size, as they were always large and filled with pre-med students. I went in expecting to see the advertised “small” class sizes, but in reality, mine were quite large. That being said, most of my friends had small classes and those of mine that were small were great.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Benjamin: I worked in a digital primate lab run by one of my professors of physical anthropology. Although I enjoyed learning about primate behaviour through video observation, this experience was incredible because of the relationship I built with this professor. I think building great relationships with faculty is what college is all about.
Check out Benjamin’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.