The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Nikhita is a Los Angeles tutor specializing in Algebra tutoring, Pre-Calculus tutoring, Chemistry tutoring, and more. She is a senior at University of California, Irvine majoring in Biological Sciences. See what she had to say about her school:
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?
Nikhita: UC Irvine is set in the middle of a very suburban town, but the university is very different from the city itself. My experiences of growing up in Irvine were much different from my experiences going to college there. The campus itself is shaped like a circle, making it very accessible, even without a car or a bike. Additionally, having a car or bike is sometimes more of a hassle because it’s tough to use it around campus. There are shuttle buses available from all the housing communities and around the campus itself, so a car is not necessary. The campus itself is beautiful—all of the buildings are built around a giant park. Because the weather is wonderful, there are always students studying, taking naps, or playing sports in the park, creating a very welcoming atmosphere for everyone. Irvine is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in America and UC Irvine embodies that spirit as well. There are lots of measures in place to ensure students feel safe on or around campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Nikhita: Because the lectures are relatively large, it is sometimes hard for students to approach them during class. However, professors are always open for questions before, after, and during the lecture. Additionally, they all have office hours which students take advantage of in order to get to know them better. Academic advisors are always available in their offices, by walk-in or by appointment. Teaching assistants teach discussion sections which are much smaller than lectures (usually around 20 people) and also hold their own office hours so students can get all of their questions answered.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Nikhita: UC Irvine’s freshman dorms are located on campus, making the longest walk from your room to your class 15 minutes. The rooms themselves are very spacious and come with a lot of furniture already in it. There are three dining halls on campus and many restaurants and cafes available. The housing communities host multiple social events, as does each particular hall. Most people make a majority of their friends through their freshman dorm life (myself included) and it was definitely a worthwhile experience!
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?
Nikhita: UC Irvine has a lot of unique programs and majors available, but the most common major is Biological Sciences. I am a Biological Sciences major and hope to go into the healthcare field, as do most Science majors at UC Irvine. The university knows this and does a really good job supporting the Biology program and specifically tailors the requirements to meet those of pre-professional schools.
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?
Nikhita: Dorm life really helped me make friends as a freshman. I met a lot of amazing people whom I’m still friends with. Additionally, getting involved on campus is a major asset. The more organizations you are involved with, the more different types of people you meet. Although the campus is large and may seem intimidating, getting involved in smaller organizations will help you meet a lot of wonderful people. Greek life is fairly predominant on campus but a lot of people are not affiliated. You can definitely still have a social life even if you aren’t in a sorority or fraternity.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Nikhita: UC Irvine has a great career website, called ZotLink, which hosts hundreds of thousands of job opportunities available for students. I found multiple opportunities on there, including internships, part-time jobs, and full-time jobs, which have helped me grow as a person. Additionally, there are quarterly career and graduate program fairs which help students get exposure to reputable companies and programs. The Career Center also hosts daily workshops and seminars to help students figure out their interests or find programs that will help them achieve their goals.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Nikhita: UC Irvine has two libraries, a huge student center, and study rooms in every dorm suite. There are ample study rooms and independent study areas, but they do tend to get busy during finals week. However, if you want a study room, just make sure to reserve one ahead of time and you shouldn’t have any problems.
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?
Nikhita: Irvine itself is a suburban area but it has many malls, movie theaters, and shopping complexes. Additionally, its central location means it is only ten minutes away from the beach, an hour from the mountains, an hour from Los Angeles, and an hour from San Diego. It is also only four hours from Las Vegas. Because of its location, it can be fun, especially if you know someone with a car. If not, there are also a lot of shopping complexes and a movie theater around campus, and UC Irvine hosts a lot of concerts and social evens itself. Most students stay near campus their first year and then when they get a car, they start venturing off to other locations.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Nikhita: UC Irvine is home to a total of 25,000 students. Therefore, the lower-division class sizes are pretty big (between 200-400 people) but there are also smaller discussion sections with only twenty people. Therefore, it does require extra effort on the student’s part to make the most of their education and the opportunities they have, but it is very easy to get used to the sizes.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Nikhita: I recently took a Biochemistry class with a very difficult professor. He required students to think a lot and apply the concepts that we learned in what was already a difficult subject. Looking back, although I had to work very hard to do well, the class taught me a lot about the value of getting an education that teaches you skills that you can use later on. College doesn’t only teach you facts about the classes you’re taking, but also teaches you how to study, how to break out of your comfort zone, and how to enjoy and take control of your own life.
Check out Nikhita’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.