The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Noel received his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. He is currently a tutor in Washington, D.C. specializing in AP Comparative Government and Politics tutoring, German tutoring, math tutoring, and several other subjects. See what he had to say about his experience at George Washington University:
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?
Noel: The campus of George Washington University is in the middle of downtown Washington, D.C., which meant the campus was completely urban. There was no real delineation between where campus stopped and the city started. Public transportation was abundant, but the easiest and cheapest way to get from one point to another was to walk. In other words, there is absolutely no need for any undergraduate student to have a car on campus. Unless you choose to live somewhere that is not Metro accessible, a car is more of a burden than a convenience.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Noel: I would describe George Washington University as a medium-sized university system with approximately 10,000 undergraduate students. This means that the introductory courses (economics, anthropology, statistics, etc.) were housed in large lecture halls. With that said, there were required breakout discussion groups with a TA (or teaching assistant) where students could ask their questions. Additionally, professors had scheduled office hours where students could go and work one-on-one with a professor as necessary.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Noel: The dorms at George Washington University are rather good. Some dorm rooms are converted hotel rooms, and there is a lot of new construction happening on campus. My freshman dorm experience consisted of two double rooms sharing a bathroom, with a study alcove off the shared entrance to the suite. That dorm building sits directly next to the main student center, which had a wide variety of dining options throughout the day. There are certainly other dining options both on- and off-campus, including across the street, where there was a TGI Fridays on one corner and a Johnny Rockets on the other corner.
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?
Noel: My undergraduate major was International Affairs, which was the whole reason for me going to that particular university. George Washington University’s International Affairs program is world-renowned, and I wanted to learn from the best minds in the field. Even today, I hear people delineate all other majors from mine in the sense that you either were or were not in the Elliott School of International Affairs. Because of its prominence and popularity, I would say my university did a fantastic job at supporting that program (and indeed, the school itself).
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?
Noel: I lived in what they called a “living and learning program” my freshman year, which means all the freshmen living on my floor took at least one class together during both semesters of our freshmen year. Because I immediately began living and studying with a core group of students, it made getting to know new people incredibly easy. While there is a significant Greek presence on campus, I chose not to go down that road. I had no issues with meeting people and making friends outside of Greek circles, since there are more student clubs than any one student could possibly participate in.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Noel: The further away I get from my undergraduate years, the less I seem to glean from the Career Center. That being said, I found the Career Center incredibly helpful with support for students. My first job out of college was through an on-campus interview with a local company, and I have found other positions later in my career through its online job posting portal. In addition, each college within the university has its own program-specific job databases, so there are many different resources a student can utilize for career and professional development advice.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Noel: I found that I did my best studying in my dorm room, so I didn’t use the shared study rooms a lot for individual assignments. When I had group assignments, however, we often met either at the library (in one of the larger study rooms) or on an upper floor of the student center. There was always some space where a group of students could meet to work on group assignments or get together for a study group before a large test.
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?
Noel: The George Washington University campus is located right in the middle of downtown Washington, D.C., so one side of campus borders Georgetown, one side borders Dupont Circle, one side borders the World Bank, and the bottom side borders the U.S. Department of State. There are countless restaurants, cafes, and museums within a 15-minute walk in all directions from campus.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Noel: While the more popular introductory classes may be in larger lecture halls with more than 300 students in attendance, those larger classes almost always had some sort of study group/breakout session each week to ensure the content could be properly absorbed. After freshman year, those class sizes dropped considerably. I never had a serious issue with any of my class sizes.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Noel: During the summer between my sophomore and junior years, I had already discovered the Study Abroad Office and made plans to study in Europe for the next semester. During my time getting to know the process to study abroad, I discovered other smaller, shorter-term study abroad opportunities. I ended up tagging along with a political science professor taking a group of graduate students to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Traveling to new countries, learning about current political issues, and learning what academic life was like outside of the classroom was a blast! To top it off, after the trip was over, I spent an extra day or two in Vienna because the parents of one of my undergraduate friends lived there.
Check out Noel’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.