The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Shantel received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Education from Concordia College. She is currently a tutor in Boston specializing in ESL/ELL tutoring, reading tutoring, writing tutoring, and several other subjects. See what she had to say about her experience at Concordia College:
VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or rural is the campus? Did you feel safe on campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?
Shantel: The campus is set in a smaller town of about 40,000, and it is across the river from Fargo, North Dakota (population: 114,000). The campus is incredibly picturesque. It is hidden from the rest of the world by beautiful trees, making it feel like you are in your own world. There is a gorgeous bell tower, a pond with a fountain, and beautiful buildings with impeccable landscaping. The campus is very safe and well-lit. Campus security will walk with students if they would like them to. Many of the buildings are interconnected, which is helpful in the winter. There are plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, ice cream shops, and fast food places within walking distance. Quite a few students will come with a car if they live a few hours away, so it's never a problem to get a ride somewhere. There are ride share boards for going home for weekends or vacations. A local taxi service offers a discount to college students, so having a car isn't really necessary. A bike would be helpful, but it’s also not necessary. Everything on campus is an easy walk away.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Shantel: One thing I loved about Concordia College is how easy it was to talk with professors. There are no teaching assistants, and academic advisers have an open door policy. Your academic adviser is often a professor that you will have for your major, and I got to know mine very well. Students will have the same professors multiple times, which helps to build those connections. Freshmen classes may be 20-30 students, and upper-level courses can be as small as seven. The average class size is 18, and the student to faculty ratio is 12:1. Professors hold regular office hours, but they are available via email at almost any time, and they welcome students walking in to say hello or to ask a question.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Shantel: First- and second-year students are required to live on campus to help build community. All of my college friends now, ten years later, are people I met in my first year of college, and my best friends are women who were on my dorm floor. Dorms for first and second years are not co-ed, and they are separated by building. The RAs are fantastic! They plan social events, mixers, and are always available to talk to students. My freshman RA and I are still very close. There are two dining halls on campus with a huge variety of options. There are campus apartments for juniors and seniors, where many students will live. I chose to live off-campus, and I partially regret this decision, even though it was a good glimpse into real life. I missed the community of the college.
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?
Shantel: There are 65 majors, and most students will double major – or at least have a major and a minor. I was an Education major, but I also was required to major in English and minor in Communications. The reason behind this is so that I'm more of an expert in my content area. Concordia College is a liberal arts school, so students are required to take several core classes in various subject areas. I enjoyed being able to expand my knowledge in other areas. I took a meteorology course to fulfill my science requirement, and bowling (which took place at a local bowling alley) to fulfill my physical fitness credit. With the Education major, students are out in schools in their first year. There are mini practicums/student teaching opportunities each year that lead up to the senior year semester of student teaching. I loved all of the opportunities to get in the classroom and practice teaching, learn from veteran teachers, and gain experience.
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?
Shantel: There is no Greek life at Concordia College, but there are over 100 clubs. I was active in several, and I made a lot of new friends. There is an activity fair every fall where students can learn about all of the clubs and intramural sports groups. Concordia College has all of the college sports you'd need (including hockey), plus an active music scene. Concordia College is most well known for music (not sports). The Concordia College choir, band, and orchestra all do tours each year, many of which include an international trip. There are several different levels for each group for students with varying abilities and time commitments. My favorite part about Concordia College is that the week before school is freshman orientation week. All freshmen are assigned a club and do many of the activities with that group. Clubs are led by an upperclassmen who is trained, and students get to know each other in a smaller setting. Club leaders make door signs for each student and come by to welcome them as they arrive on campus. It's a great way to get to know the campus and to ask all the questions students are wondering. Freshmen all take a common class with their club throughout the first semester.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Shantel: The Career Center is fantastic, and students also have access to a psychologist and a campus pastor. There are many counseling groups happening on a rolling basis, including a grief group.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Shantel: It's never hard to find space on campus to do anything. The campus is small, and there are only 2,400 students. It's small enough that you usually recognize someone as you're walking around campus, but there are plenty of new people to meet. Finding a quiet study cubby in the library is easy to do. There are more computers than students need, and there is a lot of outdoor space where students sit and chat. There are study areas in each dorm, and nooks and crannies all over campus.
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?
Shantel: The surrounding area’s population is 224,000, and there are two other colleges nearby. Minnesota State University Moorhead is not far away, and NDSU (North Dakota State University) is just a short drive. The NDSU Bison are well known for their impressive football and hockey teams, so going to a game there is always fun. The Fargo-Moorhead area is heavily populated with college students, so there is plenty to do.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Shantel: With only 2,400 students, freshman classes may be 20-30, and upper-level courses can be as small as seven students. The average class size is 18. I loved the smaller class sizes, especially as I got into my upper-level courses. It was great to have so much personalized attention, and my ideas were always heard. Professors all know their students very well, and they remember us years later when we visit. They love teaching and are approachable.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Shantel: I really enjoyed my History of the English language course, and the professor who taught it was hilarious. He loved his subject matter and really taught me what it was to be a good teacher. I took just as many notes during his class about the content as I did his teaching methods. I also did a semester abroad, which I highly recommend to anyone! I studied in Norway and traveled to seven other countries as part of my program. It was the most incredible experience. During spring break, some classes will have an opportunity to travel abroad. For example, I took a literature class that had the option to go to France with the professor over spring break. I regret not going on that trip. There are plenty of opportunities for travel with groups like Habitat for Humanity.
Check out Shantel’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.