The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Alexandra is a New York City tutor and 2006 graduate of Pomona College where she studied Theater and French. She specializes in many subjects including Math tutoring, English tutoring, French tutoring, and various areas of test prep. See what she had to say about her experience at Pomona:
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?
Alexandra: As part of a 5-college consortium, even though Pomona's a small school, the campus feels quite large as all the schools' facilities are available to all Consortium students. It often feels like a world in and of itself although the surrounding town is cute too. You certainly don't need transportation to get around campus but, if you want to go off-campus to buy groceries, you need a bike or car. To go to L.A. (40 miles away), you need a car, although there is a train that goes into Union Station. There are no buses that I know of.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Alexandra: Very available. My professors and advisers were always available via e-mail and, often, to meet for lunch or coffee. Teaching assistants often offered extra study sessions before tests.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Alexandra: Rooms are large, with singles possible all four years. Dining options are varied since you can eat at any of the colleges' dining halls. You can also spend FLEX dollars off-campus. Freshman year is very focused on socialization with every freshman being placed in a group on their hall that has a sophomore big "brother" and "sister" looking out for them. The location is definitely NOT a city (and very few people go into L.A. more than once a month, if that) but there's always LOTS to do 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?
Alexandra: I'm honestly not sure what the "best" majors and programs are. I was a double major in French and Theater. I knew I wanted to be an actress and that I wanted to retain my fluency in French (with an eye toward tutoring it to support my acting career). I also took several English classes. One reason I chose Pomona was that distribution requirements were flexible enough that I could do my double major and still spend junior year abroad in Paris. I still graduated in four years. Because it's a small school, the Theater and French departments were happy to work with me to make this possible.
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?
Alexandra: My dearest friends from college were all people I met freshman year. They do a careful job selecting people on your hall whom you will likely befriend. There are also pre-orientation programs that are a great way to meet people. There's virtually no Greek like on-campus -- two relaxed fraternities that throw the occasional party that's open to all.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Alexandra: Because I was looking to work in a less mainstream field, I honestly don't know. My advisers in my majors were whom I turned to for career advice.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Alexandra: The libraries are great. Every dorm has its own lounge and various clubs (the women's union in particular) are good study options. Lots of people also study outside in the sun (it IS Southern California). There's also a great coffee shop at Scripps (one of the other colleges).
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?
Alexandra: Very few people go all the way to L.A. Many stay on-campus. Claremont, the neighboring town, is a retirement community but they've been making a concerted effort to be hipper and more in tune with students' needs and they've been succeeding from what I've heard. There are good restaurants in town and a bowling alley a short drive away. On-campus there are always various parties, performances, and art exhibits.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Alexandra: The student body is small but the entire consortium is larger. There were about 500 people in my graduating class at Pomona, 1000 in the Consortium. Classes are small and freshmen can take entirely seminar classes, depending on the subject, which I LOVED.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Alexandra: My French adviser and mentor would periodically take me out to lunch senior year to discuss my thesis. He also hired me as his teaching assistant for two classes that year and was very encouraging and helpful as he taught me how to teach. My freshman year, when I was stuck on a couple of grammar points, he met with me a couple of mornings each week for private (credited) grammar classes. This would never have happened at a big school.
Check out Alexandra’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.