A Day in the Life at Washington University in St. Louis

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Sarah is currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis studying Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology. She specializes in a multitude of subjects including SAT prep tutoring, ACT prep tutoring, Physics tutoring, and Writing tutoring. 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? 

Sarah: It's very easy to get around campus for most students. It's possible to walk from one end of campus to the other in under ten minutes. The main campus is very flat, and there are many walkways so students can take more efficient routes. Bikes are common, and there are plenty of bike racks. There's also Campus Circ, a bus that students can take to get around campus. It is generally on time and is used by many students.

VT: How helpful are the academic advisers?

Sarah: Each freshman is assigned an academic advisor at the beginning of their first semester. These advisors are usually deans, and are especially useful when one needs general information or advice about scheduling, courses, or teachers. They also help students lay out a four-year plan to ensure that all requirements are met for graduation. After students choose a major, they are assigned a major advisor who can provide more specialized insight. Generally, these advisors are quite available and willing to help when students seek advice.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life?

Sarah: The dorms are really nice- they're clean, spacious, and (with the exception of a couple of dorms) recently renovated. Maids clean common areas within suites on at least a weekly basis. Students can request singles, doubles, or triples, and there are accommodations for special needs. The dorms have large common rooms, as well as study rooms, and are conveniently located. Some suites have balconies, many have Tempurpedic beds. They're generally considered to be luxurious.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?

Sarah: Wash U's most popular majors include Biomedical Engineering, Biology, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology, Anthropology, and Mechanical Engineering. BME, PNP, and Biology are especially well-supported.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? 

Sarah: There are a lot of summer programs for pre-frosh that make it quite easy to make friends before the semester starts. Additionally, freshman floors are generally very close, and most people make long-lasting friendships on their floor. With the combination of the summer programs and freshman floor bonding, it's easy to branch out and make lots of friends as a freshman.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center?

Sarah: The Career Center can be quite helpful. It frequently holds workshops to help students find internships, work on their resumes, or learn interview skills. It's easy to make appointments and has a centrally located office.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges?  Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious? 

Sarah: There are lots of study rooms in the dorms and scattered around campus. There are several larger libraries on main campus, and many of the buildings include small libraries. There are meeting rooms and classrooms that can also be used for study sessions. Many people study in dining areas both on central campus and in dorm areas. There is no shortage of study space on campus.

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?

Sarah: St. Louis has a lot to offer. Wash U is right next to a large park, Forest Park, that has everything from an art museum to golf to a free zoo. Many students live in an area adjacent to campus that is off of the Delmar Loop, a stretch of a few blocks that has many great restaurants, stores, bars, and a movie theatre. The larger city has tons of great attractions, such as the Arch or City Museum.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes? 

Sarah: There are about 7,000 undergraduates. I usually know one or two people in each of my classes, and always run into a few people when walking around campus. However, it’s big enough that there are tons of new people to meet. It's a great compromise between familiar and new.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Sarah: I took General Chemistry my freshman year. The professor was great, a really talented teacher whose enthusiasm for teaching was obvious in his classes. The first day of class, he called on individual people by name from the audience of over 300 students. One of his last classes fell just before the holidays, and he came in that day in a Santa suit. Even though the course is over, he still greets many of his former students. In addition to these things, I found the course incredibly valuable as it really pushed me to work harder and allowed me to realize that I was capable of handling the level of difficulty presented by the class.

Check out Sarah’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.