My Experience at University of Michigan

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Rahul is a St. Louis tutor and 2009 graduate of University of Michigan. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and tutors several subjects specializing in College Algebra tutoring, Pre-Calculus tutoring, and SAT Math tutoring. Check out what Rahul had to say about his time at University of Michigan:

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?

Rahul: The University of Michigan campus is suburban, and it is located about 45 minutes outside of Detroit. There is a very good campus bus system, as well as free AATA (Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority) buses for University of Michigan students. Since there are many out-of-state students without cars, this is very helpful.

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

Rahul: If you show the initiative to meet with professors and teaching assistants, they are usually very helpful. Occasionally, study sessions were held before key exams during the semester.

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

Rahul: University of Michigan requires that freshmen live in the dorms during their first year. I am still good friends with the people that I met through the dorms. The rooms were typical for older dorms. There was a common shower area, since it was an all-male floor. You can also meet other students in the cafeterias of the various dorms. Additionally, the restaurant scene of Ann Arbor is phenomenal. There are many types of ethnic cuisine available, including Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Ethiopian.

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?

Rahul: As one of the premier public universities in the United States, many of the academic programs are ranked highly. I encountered many pre-professional students, in fields like pre-medicine and pre-law. I studied Aerospace Engineering since it is a highly ranked program at University of Michigan with great lab facilities. The university did a good job of providing a strong academic foundation and support. From a career placement perspective, you have to seek out opportunities on your own.

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?

Rahul: Because there is a large out-of-state population at University of Michigan (which is one of the more diverse campuses in the Midwest), many people are looking to make new friends. Greek life is very big on campus, and it is involved with football tailgates and various other activities. However, if you are not involved in it, you can still make friends since it is a very large campus.

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

Rahul: Speaking as an Aerospace Engineering student, the Career Center was helpful. They hosted career fairs every semester, as well as corporate-sponsored resume reviews. Many large companies such as GE, Pratt & Whitney, and Schlumberger recruit at University of Michigan. So do the national laboratories.

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

Rahul: The Shapiro Undergraduate Library is where many students go to study for more collaborative classes. The Hatcher Graduate Library has many booths lining the bookcases on several floors, and it is an ideal place for isolated, quiet study. These places tend to become packed during finals. The Duderstadt Center by the Engineering buildings is open 24 hours a day, and it is usually underutilized. Some students study in the student union, but this area has a lot of traffic, so I do not believe it is conducive to concentrating.

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?

Rahul: Like most state schools, college sports are big at University of Michigan. Tailgating for football starts early, since many of the games are at noon. We usually have the largest football attendance in the country. Basketball and hockey games are also fun to attend. The campus and downtown are very close to each other, so students go to both on weekends. There are many restaurants and shops in Ann Arbor.

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

Rahul: The student body is roughly around 40,000 students total, with about 30,000 students at the undergraduate level. The introductory classes at University of Michigan are large. A typical required lecture course can have 400 students in it. By the time you are in specific courses for your major, a typical class size is around 30 students. I was generally pleased with the class size once I started taking my major-specific courses.

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

Rahul: My most memorable class experience was when my classmates and I tested rear fairings that we designed for a model 18-wheeler. We did so in the 5’x7’ department wind tunnel.

Check out Rahul’s tutoring profile.

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