Boston University : A Student Interview

Mano earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Boston University. He specializes in French tutoring, SAT tutoring, and a number of other subjects. Below, he shares his experience at Boston University:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. 

Mano: Boston University is a prime example of an urban college campus. On its outskirts, you can find the Charles River, The Red Sox’s Fenway Park, Kenmore Square, and Allston. It’s a very safe campus with a prime location in an iconic city; the BU Police Department works diligently with the Boston Police to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff, and everyone on campus. The tramway runs through the middle of Boston University and is easily accessible–though the schedule varies and slows down in the winter months. I wouldn’t say one would need a car in Boston or while attending BU, as public transportation is easily accessible. In addition, BU has its own shuttle that runs through campus from one end to the other, free of charge. Bikes are also very useful for students living off-campus and can easily be parked anywhere–just be careful for cars on Commonwealth Avenue.

VT:  How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Mano: As you progress through your academic years, classes start to decrease in size and you can easily get to know your professors and teaching assistants. In my experience, BU professors have gone out of their way to set up flexible office hours with their students, even increasing their presence on campus prior to finals weeks.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Mano: Living arrangements are not the best during the first two years of college at BU; though, they do get better when you become a junior and senior. In dormitory-style housing, students have to leave their dorms during the holidays and breaks, which is a hassle for someone living very far away from home. On campus apartment-style options are better than dormitories, but still expensive compared to off-campus housing. Though many might disagree with me, the quality of food at the university’s dining halls was not the best compared to other schools, despite the many options offered to students.

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

Mano: I studied international relations at Boston University. It’s one of the most prominent departments at the university. I was fortunate to study and practice what I was learning in the classroom during a semester internship abroad in Geneva, Switzerland. Other well represented majors and programs include the School of Management, the School of Engineering, economics, and human physiology/pre-med.

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?

Mano: Making friends at BU is very easy. Make sure to meet as many people as possible during the first few weeks of freshman year at orientation, activities, and club meetings. Some might end up being your friends for the entirety of your college life. Another great way to make close friends at the university is to build connections and friendships during your semester abroad, which was my case. Greek life isn’t a major facet of student life at BU, but those who choose to join fraternities and sororities end up enjoying their experiences.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? 

Mano: Many companies and alums recruit BU students. The emphasis is mainly on students majoring in business, engineering, and computer science. Liberal arts majors usually have the challenge of finding employment on their own; however, the Career Center provides resources and services to update and tailor resumes and cover letters to help students find internships or entry level jobs.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Mano: The university has a great number of libraries and study lounges spread all around campus. Its main library, Mugar, gets very crowded during midterms and finals season. This is why many go to smaller libraries and lounges in dorms for quiet study rooms.

VT: Describe the surrounding town.

Mano: Boston University is located in the heart of the city of Boston and just across the river from Cambridge, MA. The city is yours to explore, especially with the availability of the subway, tramway, and buses running around town. Boston is a cultural hub, as it harbors a variety of museums, concert venues, shopping districts, restaurants, and sports venues. The downtown area is 10-20 minutes away from BU, and students usually go out from Thursday to Sunday nights.

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

Mano: BU has around 16,000 undergraduate students. You are bound to take large classes your first two years, with around 200 students in each. But, as you become an upperclassman, class sizes start to shrink and you get to better know your professors and peers–especially during seminar-style advanced courses.

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

Mano: My best experience was with professor Abigail Jacobson who was visiting from the MIT history department. Her class on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict led to an opportunity to assist her in research on her project on the relations between Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. I eventually decided to pursue opportunities in foreign policy research in several think tanks as a result.

Check out Mano’s tutoring profile.

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