A Day in the Life at University of Colorado Boulder

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Kristen received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature from University of Colorado Boulder. She is currently a tutor in Burbank specializing in Spanish tutoring. See what she had to say about her experience at University of Colorado Boulder:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options. 

Kristen: The University of Colorado Boulder is situated in the beautiful city of Boulder, Colorado. For me, Boulder is a great balance of all the amenities you need, and it is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, so you are also immersed in nature with many outdoor activities that you can partake in year-round. I love Boulder because it is extremely eco-friendly. There is plenty of public transportation, and there is a bike path that runs through the entire city and campus, so you do not even need a car. It is a convenient campus. I always felt safe, and there are frequent stations on campus where you can call for help.

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants at University of Colorado Boulder?

Kristen: The professors and teaching assistants are very available. They offered plenty of office hours, and email as a communication option. Any time I needed help, they were always more than willing to give their time. The academic advisers take a little longer to schedule meetings with, because this is a large university. You need to plan in advance to schedule an appointment. However, they do their best to be available for you.

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

Kristen: I stayed in the dorms my freshman year, and I was very happy I did, because it was a great transition from high school to be on campus for my classes. I stayed in Libby Hall, which is one of the oldest dorms, so it is a little run down, but for a dorm room, it was great. Libby Hall is also known for the best breakfast and lunch on campus. I loved the food. I also had the opportunity to take classes inside of Libby Hall, which was nice because they were small, and it was a great community builder. I really enjoyed spending time and studying with many of the people in my dorm, and I made some really solid relationships there. The meal plan was a little pricey, but I never needed to eat off campus my first year, which helped me focus on my studies.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at University of Colorado Boulder? 

Kristen: I graduated with my bachelor’s in Spanish literature, secondary education, and a minor in dance. However, I was an integrative physiology student my first two years of college. I learn best in small classroom environments, so for me, the University of Colorado Boulder was not my ideal school for science because of the large lecture classes. I did, however, enjoy learning in our science labs, which were smaller and hands-on. When I switched my major, I realized I work better in smaller class sizes. I loved the Spanish, dance, and education programs because class sizes were smaller, they were discussion based, and there was a lot of hands-on learning. I enjoyed the Spanish program because each of my professors were from different Spanish speaking regions, so I heard a variety of accents and dialects. I wish I had done the Spanish/Portuguese program, because it would be great to know both. However, the University of Colorado Boulder wants you to major in Spanish literature if you are going to teach it, because the program focuses on grammar and literacy in Spanish. I also liked the dance program, because it emphasizes dance through the study of culture, politics, history, and art, and the professors have a variety of backgrounds. I thought the School of Education did a great job in preparing us for teaching.

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?

Kristen: It was easy for me to make friends as a freshman. I think the dorms help a lot with this. But the University of Colorado Boulder is a very social school in general, and it has many clubs and activities. Greek life does play a role in the social life, however, I was never part of a sorority and I never felt left out or a need for that. I was on the dance team, and also a part of Boulder Freeride, the ski and snowboard club, which was a lot of fun! You do not have to be a part of Greek life to make friends; there are so many great people to meet outside of that.

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

Kristen: I think the career center is helpful, and I do remember job fairs happening frequently, but I did not work much with any of these. The School of Education did a great job in not only working with us to guide us through everything we needed to do to apply to teaching positions, but student teaching was also a great way to get our foot in the door. We shadowed and observed at a few different schools, which was also a great way to network. I also had friends that had great success with internships leading to careers.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges at University of Colorado Boulder?

Kristen: The University of Colorado Boulder had plenty of study areas and multiple libraries. I always enjoyed going to the main library. The study spaces are easily available and not often overcrowded. There are also many nearby coffee shops, and “The Hill,” a street right by campus, has great little food places to study at.

Describe the surrounding town.

Kristen: There are many things to do in Boulder, especially outdoors. The Boulder Creek Trail is a bike path/walk path that runs over 25 miles next to the beautiful Boulder Creek, so it is a great place to get fresh air, exercise, go on a picnic, and go tubing when the weather gets warm. “The Hill” is a convenient street next to campus with tons of food places and “The Fox,” a great music venue. It is really easy to get to downtown Boulder (Pearl Street), where you can see street performers, go shopping, get food, etc. Eldora Mountain Resort is a ski resort 20 minutes outside of Boulder, so you can hop on a bus and go skiing/snowboarding.

There are also the other nearby mountains (two to three hours away) of Vail, Keystone, Abasin, Copper, Winter Park, and Breckenridge, which you can bus to as well. Boulder is a really active place. Yoga and exercise places are really big, and so is hiking (the Flatirons and Chautauqua trails are a 10-minute drive). There are plenty of art, theatre, and music festivals going on, and Boulder Jazz Dance Festival happens every summer. Fiske Planetarium is also one of the best planetariums in the world. Golden is about a 30-minute drive, where you can see dinosaur tracks.  

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

Kristen: The student body is very large, with an enrollment of more than 30,000 students. When I was in the integrative physiology program, the class sizes were too large for my learning style. The lecture classes had about 200 students in them, and it was hard for me to learn that way. Once I began the Spanish, education, and dance programs, class sizes were much smaller. Sometimes 40 per class, but usually 20 or less.

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

Kristen: Anne Becher, head of the Spanish program, was a great professor. I had her for my last Spanish writing class, and also for a Spanish education class. She was challenging and also very detailed. I enjoyed how she allowed us to choose our writing topics so that we could research what interested us.

I also enjoyed History and Philosophy of Dance with Erika Randall; it opened my eyes to so much beneath dance history, and it made me hungry to learn more.

Hip Hop History with Rennie Harris was also extremely educating because he has lived Hip Hop and is now sharing its roots.

I regret taking General Chemistry 1, 2, and Organic Chemistry, because the lecture classes were way too impersonal and not engaging for me. I also think that chemistry is just not my cup of tea.

Check out Kristen’s tutoring profile.

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