My Experience at Boston University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Brendan is a Seattle tutor and 2012 graduate of Boston University. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and tutors several subjects, specializing in Geometry tutoring, GRE Quantitative prep tutoring, and Music Theory tutoring. Check out what Brendan had to say about his time at Boston University:

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?

Brendan: Boston University is one of the best examples of an urban campus. The campus is almost fully integrated into a two-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue, a major street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The campus is fairly safe for an urban school, but the neighborhood where most students live when they move off-campus can be a little rough. The worst thing that you usually have to contend with is burglaries, but we did hear of the occasional mugging over the campus safety alert system. The dorms, on the other hand, are very safe and centrally located. The subway runs along Commonwealth Avenue, and there are several city buses that go through campus, as well. Boston University also has its own shuttle bus service that is free to students.

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

Brendan: Boston University is a very large school, so there is a lot of variability in the availability of professors and staff. In my department, Mathematics, professors made themselves very available to students. The advisers were extremely helpful, and the teaching assistants were always around and willing to help.

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

Brendan: Boston University has a great social culture. There are tons of student organizations and on-campus events. My dorm for the first two years of college was a brownstone filled with students from the School of Music. There is an entire street of small brownstone-style dorms, as well as a few larger complexes, so there are good options for people who want more privacy or more of a community feel. The dining halls had pretty good food for a college setting, and there were plenty of restaurants all over campus. Being right in the city also made it very easy to explore Boston and to go out on the weekends.

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?

Brendan: Boston University has pretty good support for all its majors. In particular, I noticed that there is a great International Relations program, and good departments for Education and Business, as well. I studied Mathematics, but I had a second major in Music. The College of Arts and Sciences made it very easy to pursue whatever classes and majors interested you. I chose Mathematics and Music because they are my two favorite subjects. Both majors were very well supported, and Boston University has a particularly good Mathematics department.

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?

Brendan: Boston University was a great place for meeting new people. I loved the atmosphere on campus, and I met many lifelong friends in my first few months. I did not get involved in Greek life, but the school does have a vibrant Greek community.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Brendan: I did not make much use of the Career Center aside from planning for graduate school. Regardless, my experience with the Career Center staff was always positive and helpful. Boston University does have a number of good recruitment events. I know because I worked in the office that helped schedule them.

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

Brendan: Boston University has great facilities overall, but the library can get crowded around finals, and the student union gets very busy around lunch time. That being said, the university puts a lot of money into the development and expansion of campus facilities.

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? 

Brendan: Boston is an awesome city, and there are tons of college students and young professionals, which makes it a very fun place to go to school. Students generally vary a lot on whether they stay on campus or go out into the city. I preferred to go out, especially to Cambridge, which is across the river. There is so much culture and activity in the city.

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

Brendan: If I remember correctly, the student body is upwards of 30,000 people when you include graduate students. As a result, introductory classes can often be very large. However, most of my upper-level classes were actually pretty small. That may have had to do with my choice of majors, but I was generally pleased with class sizes.

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

Brendan: My favorite experience was doing a presentation for a music history class. I got up in front of the class and played the introduction to “Rhapsody in Blue” on guitar. Boston University is such a big school that you are bound to end up in some unconventional academic situations, and that makes it a really fun place to study.

Check out Brendan’s tutoring profile.

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