The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. April is a senior at Siena College studying biology. Currently located in Albany, she specializes in science tutoring, math tutoring, English tutoring, and several other subjects. Check out what she had to say about her experience at Siena College:
Describe the campus setting and transportation options.
April: The campus is fairly small and feels like a small town. It is a very close-knit community and you often see professors or other students you know. Public safety makes rounds and there are a few “blue light” stations to call public safety from if you feel unsafe, and they will come meet you there. There are shuttles to the mall every weekend as well as cars you can rent.
How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants at Siena College?
April: Our classes are small, usually capped at 30 students, and our labs are even smaller, usually no more than 15 students. This is really nice because the students and professors build a relationship and the professor knows their students and is invested in their success. Professors and advisers are normally pretty available, but it can depend on the professor. Many answer emails within a day, if not a few hours. Both are often pretty flexible when it comes to meeting with students. Teaching assistants hold “office hours” as well; when I helped with a class, I also answered emails and met with students when they were available outside of class.
How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
April: I live off-campus, but it seems like the dorms are usually fairly peaceful. There are RAs and RDs to handle any problems. There are a few places to eat, though most people complain about the food at the main dining hall. There is a focus of locally grown, healthy food. There are plenty of opportunities to get together with other students, whether it’s service-related, recreational, or a fundraiser. The events are advertised by fliers as well as a daily email digest.
Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at Siena College?
April: My school is known as a liberal arts college, but has been trying to become more widely known as a good school for science majors as well. Some people say that this is why the science curriculum is so rigorous. I’m majoring in biology and I have always done well. I have been very satisfied with the courses I’ve taken, except for organic chemistry, which was needlessly difficult. Still, labs and hands-on experience, as well as research opportunities, are emphasized as an essential part of learning.
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?
April: As a commuter, it was a little more difficult for me to make friends because I wasn’t on campus as much and didn’t take part in all of the activities. I am also a shy person. However, I did make connections in my classes, and even met one of my best friends (who also happens to be a commuter). There are many opportunities to meet people, though, and there’s even a group that plans events specifically for commuters.
How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?
April: The career center is always sending out emails with job and internship opportunities. They also offer resume critique services and mock interviews. We also have an office devoted to academic support, called the “Nexus of Success.” The counseling center is also very helpful for students experiencing many different challenges.
How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?
April: The library is very comfy (lots of couches) and pretty quiet. There are also plenty of computers. In nearly every building, there are a few lounges and computer labs. My favorite lounge, the second home of many science majors, is in our lab building and has two glass walls and many different plants. Over-crowding is rarely a problem and we respect each other’s space and belongings.
Describe the surrounding town at Siena College.
April: Immediately surrounding the campus is a suburban area (and two cemeteries). Just five minutes away there are some small plazas with restaurants and supermarkets. Farther down, you have larger shopping centers with a variety of stores. The buses shuttle students to a mall about fifteen minutes away. Students go out often with friends, but there is also always a lot going on on campus.
How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
April: Our student body is just over 3,000 students. I love the small class sizes; it’s a big factor in why I chose my school. It lets me get to know my classmates and my professors, and allows me to feel more comfortable asking questions or going for help.
Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
April: This past summer, I did full-time research with my favorite professor and four other students. It was a really great experience and even made me decide to pursue grad school over med school. I learned and accomplished a lot, made new friends, and got to know this professor even better.
Check out April’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.