The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Michael is a 2012 graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in English. He is an online tutor specializing in several areas of Reading tutoring, Writing tutoring, and Literature tutoring. See what he had to say about his time at The University of Southern Mississippi:
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?
Michael: The campus of The University of Southern Mississippi is quite nice. It is not too large, so biking or walking from class to class is carefree and enjoyable, and there is ample space for greenery. The University of Southern Mississippi’s lawns are great places to relax and rest between classes. There is a bus system in town, but it is not extensive. A bike can be handy, as the university’s location is fairly central. With a well-planned route, you can get most anywhere without having to cross too much traffic.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Michael: I never had a problem with my professors or advisers. Every professor sets some hours aside for office visits. Most are easily contacted by phone or by email, and they are fairly responsive. I know of some fellow classmates who had other experiences, but most departments have their mainstays who are usually quite available and quite approachable. Teaching assistants are plentiful. They tend to be friendly, but teaching quality can range. Some are as good as professors. Some just stick to their slides and curriculum.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Michael: The dorms are fairly well maintained and well located to encourage socializing. Most are in central areas of campus to encourage exploration and provide communal spaces for students to gather. The dining options are varied. Snack vendors are great for grab-and-go meals. A few fast food or carry-out places are located in the student center, and the dining hall serves a wide array of meals throughout the day. The campus plays host to a variety of clubs and organizations, so getting involved is quite easy and rewarding.
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?
Michael: The Political Science field is considered by many (largely in the liberal arts) to be one of the most visible majors on campus. We also have an excellent polymer science department, but our liberal arts in general keep up just as well. I studied English and Instructional Technology because I wanted a background in research, as well as the technology used in education. I knew that I wanted to go into Library Science, and such a background would help me along the way. Our English department is excellent: well staffed with supportive, experienced professors, and marked by challenging programs. I certainly feel like I got my tuition’s worth out of the department.
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?
Michael: Meeting new people was quite easy as a freshman since the dorms for freshmen were communal. Even leaving the dorm set up aside, with the variety of activities on campus and the centralization of its dining options, making friends is not at all a problem for anyone reasonably social. Though I have only little experience with Greek life, I know it is well represented, with the local “Greek row” being stocked with fraternities and sororities of all shapes and sizes, most very active.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Michael: Student support services never failed to meet my needs in my time there. I only rarely had need to use our career support services, but my few occasions always exposed me to friendly staff who were eager to help students meet their goals. Other support centers, such as the writing center, were equally well maintained, with reliable, well-trained staff. I do not recall a large sampling of recruiting companies approaching me, but The University of Southern Mississippi never lacked for representation, always being visited by numerous companies during job fairs. Again, this is a part of the university I had less exposure to, but I do not recall the school lacking in any way.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Michael: The library provided several levels of restriction on noise so that certain floors were quieter than others. This made it a very handy place for any studying, whether alone or in a group, and I often went there first. Dorms rarely ever suffered from noise problems, at least the ones I stayed in—save for the occasional fire drill. The student union tended to be less a study area and more a socializing location. Groups would hold programs there, and students would eat lunch and dinner and chat. This made it less useful than the dorms or the library.
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?
Michael: Hattiesburg is not a terribly large town. It is quaint and flat, but this makes it feel comfortable and close. It is easy to get from one side of town to the other without relying on the highways. Though recently struck by a few weather disasters, Hattiesburg is still a nice town. I recall few parts that looked run down, and fewer still near the school. It is by no means comparable to places like San Francisco, but Hattiesburg did have places to explore. The downtown area offered a variety of shops and was often bustling on weekends. The other side of town, closer to the highways, provided a wide expanse of malls and outlet centers of all kinds, as well as plenty of dining options.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Michael: The student body was not tiny, but I never once sat in an auditorium class in my four years. I know such classes were held, but it was extremely easy to trade them for more personal classes. I was very pleased with this, as I prefer a class where I can get to know new people and potential homework buddies. This also made getting to know the professors much easier, and it made building rapport with them enjoyable and beneficial.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Michael: One of our professors, a major figurehead of the English department, was retiring. Our History of the English Language class would be the last he taught as a full-time professor. In this class, he held weekly “etymology contests” where students would submit the etymologies of words and the most interesting one would win a stuffed animal. For our last day of class, we held a party for him, and one of the gifts we gave him was a teddy bear with an etymology card of his name. “Noun: Greatest Teacher Ever.” He was so happy he cried.
Check out Michael’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.