The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Evelyn is a St. Louis tutor specializing in SAT prep tutoring, GRE prep tutoring, Middle School Math tutoring, and more. She graduated from Tufts University in 2009 with a degree in Biopsychology. See what she had to say about her alma mater:
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?
Evelyn: Tufts University is located in Somerville/Medford, right outside of Boston. I really liked that the school is located in a less busy, suburban area but is still close to the city. I felt safe on the Tufts campus, but I always used common sense strategies just in case (e.g., didn’t walk around alone at night, paid attention to my surroundings).
There is a lot of public transportation available for Tufts students, including bus and subway systems. In addition, Tufts runs a campus shuttle (known as “The Joey”) that can transport you to a few different locations on-campus. It also goes to Davis Square, the location of the nearest subway stop (about a 15-20 minute walk away from campus). I don’t think it’s necessary to have a bike or car at Tufts, though it can make it easier to get to certain places a little further from campus (e.g., the grocery store, Target).
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Evelyn: I never had an issue with getting in touch with professors, academic advisers, teaching assistants, etc.—everyone that I had was very accessible, both via e-mail and to meet in-person. Most of my professors and teaching assistants actually encouraged students to reach out to them, which I don’t think is always the case at other schools.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Evelyn: All freshmen and sophomores are required to live in dorms on-campus. Students can choose from various dorm options (e.g., different locations on campus, “healthy living,” freshmen-only, suites or individual rooms, etc.). Some dorms are better than others, but they’re all passable. There isn’t enough on-campus housing for everyone at the school, so it can be little difficult to get a dorm as a junior or senior. There are a lot of apartments available for rent right next to the campus, though, and I was actually ready to live in my own place by the time I was a junior!
There are two main dining halls on-campus—I got a little tired of the food by the time I was a senior, but it was still pretty good overall. Tufts Dining Services makes a conscious effort to offer a variety of foods, including healthy options, and the dining halls had some fun theme nights every week (I remember stir fry night being particularly popular at one of the dining halls).
The school is actually in both Somerville and Medford, two towns right outside of Boston. I really liked the location because it was still pretty close to the city without being right in the middle of it.
There were a lot of opportunities for socialization on-campus—I met most of my friends through running cross-country and track, but there are a ton of other groups students can join (intramural sports, various music groups, fraternities and sororities). A lot of my friends were also really close with people they met in their freshmen dorms.
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?
Evelyn: Tufts’ undergraduate program is divided into the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering. When I was a student, I knew a lot of people who majored in English, Economics, Biology, Psychology, and International Relations, and several of my friends were Engineering majors.
I was a Biopsychology major, so I took classes in both the Biology and Psychology departments. I’ve always been interested in the biological basis of cognition and behaviour, so that major was a perfect fit for me. I felt very supported in my studies—I had a great adviser and some really amazing professors.
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?
Evelyn: It was pretty easy for me to meet people as a freshman because I was a member of a sports team. It seemed like it was relatively easy for most people on-campus to make friends, though, either through their dorm or some type of student group. When I was in school, Greek life didn’t play a huge role on-campus, but they did have a presence. I wasn’t involved in the Greek system at all, but I remember hearing a lot about various philanthropic activities they were involved in (as well as parties they would host on the weekends!).
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Evelyn: I found Tufts’ Career Center very helpful, especially when I was applying to Teach for America my senior year. I know they offer help with resumes and cover letters, hold various career fairs, and assist people in applying for graduate school and jobs. The Academic Resource Center was also a really great service—I worked there as a biology and psychology tutor, but I know they offer tutoring in virtually all subjects. Tufts is well-known as an academically rigorous school, so I think a lot of reputable companies recruit on-campus.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Evelyn: The on-campus study areas were easily available and spacious, for the most part. The only time it may have been hard to find a place to study at the library was during finals period, if you didn’t get there pretty early in the morning.
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?
Evelyn: There is a lot going on in the Boston area—lots of museums, concert venues, shopping, great restaurants! Davis Square is about a 15-20 minute walk away from campus, and it has a few good bars and places to eat (and a delicious ice cream place—JP Licks). From there, it’s a pretty short subway ride to Cambridge and Boston. In my experience, most people at Tufts usually stayed relatively close to campus (e.g., Davis or Harvard Square). It could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get to downtown Boston, depending on where you wanted to go. People would venture into the city every now and then, though, especially when there were special events going on (Head of the Charles Regatta, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Boston Marathon).
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Evelyn: The undergraduate student body is about 5,000 people. I was, for the most part, pleased with the class sizes—except for a few introductory courses I had to take for my major, classes were usually pretty small (about 15 people per class).
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Evelyn: My most memorable experience was, in the summer before my senior year, participating in a program called Research for Undergraduates. I got to do an independent research project about sexual selection in fireflies (I could nerd out right now, but I won’t. I’ll just say that it was very interesting!). Everyone in the program got to do his or her own project and present the findings at a research symposium at the end of the summer. We also went on a couple biology-related field trips and had weekly meetings/seminars about various topics in biology. It was a memorable experience because I had an awesome mentor and got to investigate a topic I found fascinating. I worked hard on my project and got a lot out of it (including a paper published in a scientific journal, which I’m still really proud of!).
Check out Evelyn’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.