What is it Like to Attend Arizona State University?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Jeffrey is a Philadelphia tutor who specializes in Chemistry tutoring, Algebra tutoring, AP Biology tutoring, and much more. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Check out his review of 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?

Jeffrey: The Tempe campus is a beautiful suburban campus right off of Tempe Town Lake. Though hot during the summer, most first-year students rely on walking/biking/skateboarding around campus. Older students and commuters typically live off campus within driving range. Some bus routes and more useful light rail routes provide decent mass transit options to and from the campus and even to the downtown campus. Campus safety is pretty well maintained with only some minor theft incidences and rare assaults every year both on campus and nearby off-campus areas.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Jeffrey: Faculty and staff availability varies widely depending on programs and classes. I had many wonderful professors and TA’s who had great office hours and went above and beyond to help every student who needed it. I also had professors who barley seemed to realize that teaching involved interactions with students at all. Advisers and staff varied greatly as well. Big programs like Psychology and Biology involved well in advance scheduling in order to get any face time with an adviser and usually the meetings seemed rushed. Though that isn’t to say I didn’t get some great advice and help when I really needed it and knew where/who to go to.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Jeffrey: I spent all four years of my time at ASU living in the dorms both as a resident and as an RA (CA’s at ASU). The rooms run the range of roomy, comfy, and huge, to tiny, musty, and prison-like. Of course, the nice, new dorms (Hassayampa, Barrett Honors Dorms) are extremely expensive, while the not so desirable dorms (anything in North campus) are more reasonable. The dining options are overpriced and a bit forced. During my time there, I never fully enjoyed the dining hall options, with the possible exception of the new Barrett Hall dining which of course cost more. The good news is they offer options that allow you to largely avoid the dinning halls and instead buy food from the Markets and various campus restaurants. Socialization is hard to avoid as there are countless clubs, communities, and activities going on seemingly every hour of every day. Needless to say, you shouldn’t have any trouble making friends and having fun on campus.

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?

Jeffrey: The Business School gets all the love, mostly due to President Crow’s bias and plentiful support from private sources. ASU also had decent support for its successful Nursing and Broadcasting Schools. I was in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) majoring in Psychology with a Biochemistry minor. I came into ASU wanting to study the brain, hence the Psych major, and then realized I wanted a bit more science in my life and picked up the Biochemistry minor. The Psychology department was huge and well-run, as were the Biochemistry/Chemistry departments. Chemistry support for students was amazing with many study aids, TA’s, tutors, and just about anything else one could need to pass scary classes like O-Chem, P-Chem, and Biochem. The Biology department to a lesser extent had decent support. Though I have heard the Bio department has improved since I graduated.  

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?

Jeffrey: Social life was almost too easy at ASU. Apart from the typical social atmosphere cultivated within the dorms, the campus is flush with many events geared toward having fun and meeting new people. Of course, there are also the unsponsored social events that naturally go on both on and off campus throughout the week. Football games are also, in my opinion, the best way to socialize. Greek life has, and I’m sure always will have, some role at ASU. Though many steps have been taken by various people both within and outside of the school administration to drastically limit the negative effects that have come with our Greek life history. This includes both completely kicking out all of the on-campus fraternity houses and stricter enforcement of fraternity suspensions.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Jeffrey: The Career Center is somewhat helpful, but most of the resources that many students use are directly through their departments/programs. There are many great companies that recruit on campus, but I don’t have experience with them since they mostly recruit the more business-related majors.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Jeffrey: The libraries and student union are always popular places to be. The MU (memorial union) is huge but still always full, though finding a table during lunch isn’t impossible since there is ample seating outside as well. The libraries are a bit “hit or miss.” The main library seems to be a magnet for students who want to look like they are studying while they socialize, which is very frustrating for those actually studying. The Engineering and Science specific libraries are therefore the places to go if you actually want to get work done. Some dorms provide decent lounges for studying but those are at the whim of how quiet your fellow residents are.

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? 

Jeffrey: The area immediately surrounding campus can be very fun. Mill Avenue is just a block or two from campus and is one of the two major nightlife scenes in the Valley. There are also some very good restaurants, both fast and sit-down, within walking distance of campus. With on campus light rail stops, downtown is also easily accessible. Though not many students go downtown outside of heading down to see a ball game or visiting a museum. We also have the Gammage Auditorium right on campus that has national tours of big popular musicals/shows throughout the year.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Jeffrey: Huge. Last I heard, we were still going back and forth with OSU for the biggest campus size in the country. With that huge size came packed classes. The biggest class I took had 750 students in it. The smallest class I had was still around 15 students. So, it does take some getting used to. I would have liked to have smaller classes, but the sizes become much smaller once you get into the 300-400 level classes more specialized in your major.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Jeffrey: I think by far the best experience has to be my entire year spent taking Organic Chemistry I/II. Yes, I know this is insane, but Dr. Ian Gould is seriously the best Chemistry professor in the world. He was helpful beyond what any student could expect, posting all classes’ hours online after the class (which was at 7:30 AM, and yes, it was still worth it!). He also ran weekly review sessions every Saturday and at least three review sessions before every test. Most importantly, he actually made the challenging subjects very fun to learn and study. Luckily, he was not the only professor who seemed to make everything about learning fun. I have to say my Biochemistry professor, Dr. Redding, was nearly as amazing as Dr. Gould, while many other professors shared great enthusiasm and dedication to helping students succeed.


Check out Jeffrey’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.