What is it Like to Attend Purdue University?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Courtney is a Houston tutor specializing in Geometry tutoring, Physics tutoring, Russian tutoring, and more. She graduated from Purdue University in 2011 with a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. See what she had to say about her undergraduate experience:


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?

Courtney: The Purdue campus is located in the smallish town of West Lafayette, Indiana. The campus is very centralized and pedestrian-friendly, with very little vehicle traffic between the buildings. Bikes help you get between classes a bit faster, but are not required. If you don't live in the dorms or in one of the many apartment choices close to campus, you might need a car to get to class - but there are plenty of housing options for those who wish to remain car-free. There is also a great bus system which takes you to different parts of campus, places in the West Lafayette and Lafayette areas, and even a night bus! The campus is very safe and I never had an issue walking home late at night or to campus early in the morning.

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

Courtney: This varies from college to college, but in the College of Aeronautics and Astronautics, everyone is very accommodating and friendly. For the most part, Professors have an open-door policy, that is if they are in their office and the door is open, they are willing to chat with you. The Academic Advisors in AAE are great and understand that each student's plan of study is personal and fits the individual student's needs and goals. TA’s are generally very helpful and always have office hours and sometimes even outside study sessions to make sure their students get the help they need.

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

Courtney: Dorm life at Purdue was great! The room sizes vary from dorm to dorm, but that just means that you have a wide variety to choose from! I stayed in Earhart hall and loved it! The rooms were well-sized for two people, with plenty of desk and closet space for both. All of the dorms are within walking distance to campus, but there is also a great bus system for those cold or rainy days. Part of what made my dorm experience so great was that I lived in the Honors Engineering Learning Community. Learning Communities are a great institution at Purdue that group students of similar majors into floors and sections of the dorms. Everyone around you is taking essentially the same classes, doing essentially the same homework, and has free time at basically the same time. That means, if you are stuck on Problem Number 5 of your homework, all you have to do it pop your head out the door, holler down the hallway, and find that most of your neighbors are also stuck on Problem Number 5...but together you can figure it out. Socialization in the Learning Communities is also great because often there are activities and events planned for the weekends. Joining clubs and teams outside of the dorms is a great way to meet people, too. 

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?

Courtney: Purdue is a large, public university, so there are many majors and concentrations to chose from. Purdue is highly regarded for its Engineering school, Pharmacy school, and Management school. I studied Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and am proud to say Purdue is one of the top AAE schools in the nation. 

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?

Courtney: Since I lived in a Learning Community and was active in clubs and classes, meeting friends was no problem. Some of the people I met freshman year are still some of my closest friends. There is a thriving Greek life on campus, but I did not take part.  

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

Courtney: Purdue hosts the biggest student-run job fair in the country: Industrial Roundtable. Each year, hundreds of companies come to campus and actively recruit talented Boilermakers. There are tons of other recruiting events and opportunities for internships, co-ops, and even full-time employment after graduation. The Career Center on campus has great resources for resume building and interviewing skills.  

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

Courtney: Purdue has over 20 different academic libraries, one for each of the major colleges (for the most part). I often studied in the libraries and could always find a quiet corner to focus in. During peak study times they can get a little crowded, but some of the libraries are open 24 hours a day. Also, they often offer refreshments and free coffee for students during Finals Week! 

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? 

Courtney: West Lafayette is a smallish town, but very much a university-oriented town! Everything you could need is within walking distance to campus, and for those necessary trips to bigger stores, there is a good bus system which is free for Purdue students. There are movie theaters, restaurants, bars, clubs, and cafes all over. The "downtown" and "near campus" of West Lafayette are one and the same. 

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

Courtney: Overall, Purdue has a student body of over 40,000 people. However, once you get into your professional college, the feel of the school is much smaller. I never felt like a small fish lost in the ocean. Once I entered the College of Aeronautics and Astronautics, my class sizes got consistently smaller each year as I focused my degree more and more specifically. Although by the numbers it is a big university, Purdue does not seem overwhelmingly large to the students. This is good because it has all the amenities of a large university, but with the personal attention of a smaller school. 

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

Courtney: Wow - what a huge question! It's hard to look back on wonderful years of my life and pick just one moment! I took great classes each semester with good teachers and wonderful peers...it's hard to chose! Well, one of the classes I took was Rocket Propulsion. We were tasked with building a rocket that would be launched at the end of the semester. The goal of the class was to mathematically predict the rocket's trajectory and hypothesize where the rocket would land after a short flight. On the big day, we took our rockets out to a corn field and got to work. My team was able to make accurate predictions of the wind, temperature, and flight path and got the closest beating out even the graduate students! Team Awesome ruled! 

Check out Courtney’s tutoring profile.

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