The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Ian is an Atlanta tutor and 2009 graduate of Georgia State University. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and tutors several subjects such as ACT Reading prep tutoring, College Essay tutoring, and Writing tutoring. Check out what Ian had to say about his time at Georgia State University:
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?
Ian: Georgia State University’s campus is the epitome of urban, and its buildings are peppered throughout the downtown area. This can be both a blessing – Great food in walking distance! Lots of options for relaxing between classes! – and a burden – Parking! Traffic! The campus does a really good job of protecting the safety of its students, though students should still be cautious and aware that they are studying in an urban environment subject to the typical urban crimes (namely theft). Since Georgia State University is in the middle of downtown, getting around is pretty easy. I lived off-campus and could walk to class in about 20 to 30 minutes. There are buses that transport you to each of the various buildings spread around the area, though they can sometimes get a bit crowded. Atlanta in general is not the most pedestrian-friendly city, so having a bike or car can be very helpful (or even necessary), especially if you want to live off-campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Ian: Office hours for professors, advisers, and teaching assistants were always clearly outlined on the syllabi. From my experience, everyone stayed true to their advertised hours. As I remember it, I never had any problem contacting or meeting with Georgia State University faculty.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Ian: I never stayed in Georgia State University dorms, but when I visited, it seemed as though there were plenty of options. The dining hall on campus, which is near the bookstore, offers lots of options that accommodate varying tastes and food restrictions. There are many different organizations with which students can get involved, which is key to socialization at Georgia State University – especially if you live off-campus. One of the challenges of Georgia State University is that it is still a big commuter campus, meaning that many students live outside the Atlanta area and commute in. This can make socialization a bit more challenging.
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?
Ian: Georgia State University is known as the top research institute in Georgia, and its liberal arts programs are incredibly progressive and supported. Georgia State University is also known for having a fantastic Nursing program. I studied English with a concentration in British and American Culture Studies. Georgia State University did a great job of supporting me, especially since I transferred in from a private liberal arts college. As I neared graduation, they worked with me to ensure that I had a well-rounded education that would also be marketable to the field in which I was seeking a job (secondary education). My program in particular was unique in that it was an exchange program. It allowed me to study abroad in England for a year while still only paying Georgia State University’s tuition and fees, most of which were covered under a scholarship. That experience was the best of my life, and the support I received through that transition was incredible!
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?
Ian: I did not go to Georgia State University as a freshman, so I cannot speak to how easy it is to make friends there your first year. My experience at Hofstra University showed me that it is a good idea to live on campus your freshman year, because most of my friends there were those I lived with or near. Greek life definitely has a presence at Georgia State University, but as it is primarily a commuter school, they are not as popular or omnipresent as they are at other public universities.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Ian: I always found the student support services to be quite helpful. The Career Center often set up career fairs where organizations around Georgia came and recruited students. In fact, I was first introduced to the organization for whom I eventually worked at one such career fair!
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Ian: There are many study areas, and I am mostly familiar with the library. The library study rooms can be pre-booked, which is good as they can get crowded during busy times of the year. But in general, the library is quiet, and it is easy to carve out a space for yourself there.
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?
Ian: Atlanta is one of my favorite cities in the world, and one perk of Georgia State University is that it is in the heart of downtown. There is something for everyone in Atlanta, and students often take advantage of the urban environment in which they study. Atlanta is broken up into different neighborhoods, and each one has its own unique soul. Midtown is the hip and young area, catering to the city’s sizable LGBTQ community. Buckhead is the wealthy northern neighborhood that many go to for upscale dining. Inman and Grant Parks are like the Brooklyn of Atlanta, and they have a bustling art scene. East Atlanta Village is great for cheap dive bars and fantastic music. Decatur offers a cool, smaller town vibe filled with gastropubs and world cuisine that is perfect for young families and health fanatics. If you prefer outdoorsy activities, Stone Mountain and the North Georgia Mountains are a short and moderate drive away, respectively.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Ian: Georgia State University is a mid-sized college – not small by any means, but not so big that you feel like a cog in a machine. The class sizes are large in the introductory freshman classes, but they get smaller and smaller with each year. I never had a class bigger than 60. Most of my classes were around 20, and a few specialized classes were filled by only 10 students. Overall, I was pleased with the class size, and I never felt like I could not get help in my bigger classes.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Ian: Like I said, the best experience of my life was studying abroad through Georgia State University’s cultural exchange program. I could write a book about how incredible it was – about the friends I made, both in Atlanta and in England, and the brilliance of the professors involved in the program. This was the single best experience of my life, and it completely overrides any frustrations I ever felt with Georgia State University.
On the micro level, I really enjoyed my Literary Theories class. My professor was incredibly candid, effortlessly cool, and really encouraged out-of-the-box thinking and conversation. This was the first time I ever got to engage with both literature and film through various lenses (feminist, queer, psychoanalytic, etc.). This way of reading, watching, and thinking informed my postgraduate studies and still colors the way I take in culture today!
My only regret was that I never got involved in the things I enjoyed in high school, like theatre or various clubs. There were opportunities, but I was busy studying/working/socializing.
Check out Ian’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.