Should I Go To Arizona State University?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Paige is a Phoenix tutor specializing in AP English tutoring, Essay Editing tutoring, Reading tutoring, and more. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science. 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? 

Paige: The Downtown Phoenix campus is incredibly safe. When I first started there in the fall of 2008, it was the first year the campus was open. At that time, Downtown Phoenix wasn’t as populated, but now it’s thriving. The light rail runs all the time, which makes traveling to the Tempe or other Phoenix areas easy and affordable. As for the campus itself, everything is within a few blocks, so no need for a bike or other transportation if you’re planning to stay local.

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

Paige: Because the downtown campus is so much smaller than the other campuses, class sizes are substantially reduced. This gives professors lots of time in class and during office hours to work with students. I can’t think of a time when I had a question or concern and I wasn’t able to work with my advisor or professors to address it.

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

Paige: When I was going to school on the downtown campus, it was still being built out, so there weren’t many students who lived there to socialize with. I ended up seeing most of the same people every day. Now, Downtown Phoenix as a whole has been built out, so lots of students live around the downtown area and from what I’ve heard, the dorms have a good number of people in them as well. The rooms themselves are relatively new, really clean, and easy to get to. The food choices have also substantially increased over the last few years from what it was previously.

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?

Paige: Arizona State University as a whole has something to offer for pretty much every area of study. The downtown campus, though, is primarily known for Journalism, Nursing, and Social Programing. Initially, I wanted to go to law school after college, and I figured that I liked writing, so why not try out the journalism school? During my first year there, I realized that I really enjoyed my public relations classes and decided to switch my focus from law to PR.

The Walter Cronkite School has its own high-tech building and lots of teachers and professors with real industry experience. This made our classes much more than standard lectures, but instead a glimpse into the daily lives of those in the journalism world. Once I started down the PR track, I was able to take classes that helped me progress my knowledge in the digital space that helped me get to my job in online marketing that I have today.

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?

Paige: Living downtown pretty substantially reduces the number of people students meet relative to how many students go to Arizona State University. It’s easier to meet people because it's a closer-knit community. Unfortunately, in college, people usually want more of a social life than just with the other students in their classes.

I decided to rush my freshman year and ended up joining the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta. It was a great experience overall and I met two of my best friends during the years I was involved. I did make a point of taking on leadership positions within my chapter and staying active, because it really is true – you get out of it what you put into it. 

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

Paige: The Walter Cronkite School is amazing (yes, I mean amazing) when it comes to helping students find jobs and internships. During my time there, I had seven internships, two of which were paid. During one semester alone, I interned for one of the best PR agencies in Tempe and also the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Granted, I was extremely motivated to get as much professional experience as possible during my undergraduate years. Still, the career center for the Cronkite School in particular makes it incredibly easy to find internships and jobs throughout the year. They usually have internship fairs and also email lists of openings throughout the year.

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

Paige: There weren’t all that many spaces designated as study areas on the downtown campus. Usually, there were quiet empty classrooms with computers available that we could use. I’m also pretty sure I only went to the downtown campus library a handful of times while I was at school. If you’re looking for the big library or student union setting, the ASU Library and Student Union on the main campus are only a short trip away on the light rail.

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? 

Paige: When I went to school on the downtown campus, there really wasn’t anything to do in the Downtown Phoenix area. Over the last five years, though, things have changed drastically. I currently work only a five-minute walk away from my old campus and frequent lots of fun restaurants and bars in the area. For those who aren’t 21, there’s also First Friday, art galleries, a movie theater, sporting events, shopping, bowling, and even a comedy club. If none of that sounds entertaining, all the fun of a traditional state school in Tempe is just a short light rail ride away.

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

Paige: ASU as a whole, I believe, has around 60,000 students. The downtown campus is pretty small, relatively speaking, and most students don’t live on campus after the first year. Class sizes on average range from 15 – 70 people. Once you get beyond the initial freshmen general-knowledge classes, students are broken up into smaller 15-20 person classes for the higher-level subjects that usually include group discussions and engagement. No matter what the class size, though, professors always made time for students if they had questions.

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

Paige: I remember the first class I took that challenged me with the role of a real journalist. We had to conduct interviews, meet weekly deadlines, and tackle subjects that weren’t necessarily the easiest or the most fun. It was my Introduction to Journalism Writing class and our professor made the class feel like a real job. It gave me insight into the print journalism world that I didn’t have before. Even though I ended up choosing the public relations track, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and worked for a short time at the State Press to develop my print journalism skills further.

Check out Paige’s tutoring profile. 

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