The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Stephen is a New York City tutor specializing in College Essays tutoring, Writing tutoring, AP English tutoring, and more. He graduated from The University of Kansas in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Check out what he had to say about his 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?
Stephen: The University of Kansas (KU) is in the center of Lawrence, a town of about 100,000 people. The campus is really beautiful and spread out across Mount Oread. Flowering trees dot campus, and walking across campus while petals flutter to the ground always filled me with a sense of joy, even when walking to my dreaded biology lab. KU has a bus system that transports students across campus, and it links up with Lawrence’s bus system. A car or bike is nice, as there are no grocery stores nearby. However, I didn’t have a car for the first year I was at KU, and I had no problem.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Stephen: I had a very close relationship with my advisors in both the Sociology and English Departments.I also pursued relationships with them. I had lots of friends who had difficulty finding their niches at KU. If a student was passive during their educational process at KU, then it was very easy for them to get lost. I think that if a student desires strong mentoring from their professors, advisors, and TAs, KU might not be the best choice for them.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Stephen: There are eight residence halls, as well as Scholarship Halls. The halls are very diverse in what they offer. Some are classic dormitory style, while others have suites with private bathrooms. Also, there is apartment style living for upperclassmen. All the dorms are on the edge of campus, but there are buses that transport everyone onto campus. It’s not required that students live in student housing. For food, there are three different cafeterias, as well as sack lunches. All of the food is serviceable. I found dorm life really rewarding, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to be exposed to a lot that I might not have otherwise encountered.
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?
Stephen: I studied Sociology and Playwriting. I have always been interested in why people do what they do, and looking at their actions from a macro-level perspective fascinates me. Also, I knew I wanted to write, so Sociology and Playwriting seemed like a natural fit for me. I felt like the university did a good job of giving space and funding to both of my programs. I never had any complaints about either one.
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?
Stephen: I spent my first two years living in Hashinger, a dormitory that specializes in the arts. I found it really easy to meet people, as everyone’s doors were very open and RAs encouraged interaction among peers. At Hashinger, I met friends on my floor with whom I am still very close. KU does have a very active Greek life, and if someone wants to participate, they can. However, there are lots of options, both on and off campus, to meet people.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Stephen: There are study spaces in all the dormitories. The Memorial Unions and the libraries have tons of study rooms and individual cubicles. I never had any problem finding a place to set up shop and work.
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?
Stephen: Downtown Lawrence is about two miles away from campus, and it’s got a really vibrant music scene. Lawrence is geographically situated so lots of touring bands come. Students go downtown all the time, as there are tons of restaurants, bars, and shopping that cater to both students and locals. Also, Lawrence has a great farmers’ market on the weekend and public parks that frequently host events. There are frequent parades, late-night movie screenings, and coffee shops galore. Lawrence is an interesting intersection of collegiate liberalness and surrounding conservatism, so there’s a really interesting mix of people and social scenes.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Stephen: There about 20,000 undergraduates at KU. The lower level general classes can be huge. My Psychology 101 class had 1,000 students. But once I settled into my major classes, they were relatively small, with only about 16 people in them. I even had classes as small as eight people.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Stephen: One of the coolest experiences I ever had during my undergraduate career was when a one-act play I wrote was given a staged reading at Lawrence’s performing arts center. This was because Professor Paul Lim had created his own theatre company to produce the works of students. It was the only English department with its own theatre company in the nation. Professor Lim exposed me to so much art I would have otherwise never sought out myself, and I’m forever indebted to him.
Check out Stephen’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.