The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Jason is a 2013 graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. He is a Chicago tutor specializing in numerous levels of Biology tutoring and Calculus tutoring. Check out his review of his alma mater:
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?
Jason: Boston University (BU) has a very safe campus. The majority of the campus runs along a two-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue, very near the downtown area of Boston. You get a nice mixture of an urban setting while still being isolated in a university environment. BU also has their own police force that actively works with the Boston Police Department to ensure the safety of the students. As far as transportation goes, the subway runs right along campus and the university even offers its own bus, free of charge to BU students. A car is totally unnecessary, but some students (myself included) found a bike to be useful if they lived a bit further from the main parts of campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Jason: I have had nothing but incredible experiences with the faculty at BU. Professors often go significantly out of their way to offer office hours and individual appointments to assist students who are struggling. The teaching assistants are also very well qualified for their positions. They are required to take pedagogy classes to ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities. Academic advising can be a little tricky, however. It mostly depends on how quickly you are able to decipher what you would like to be studying. The university offers plenty of help when it comes to choosing a career path, but the sooner that you decipher what you would like to study, the sooner you can be placed with an advisor for your specific interests.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Jason: Unfortunately, living arrangements are probably the worst part about going to BU. The food options are actually very good as far as dorm food goes (they always have vegetarian and vegan alternatives), but the living spaces are pretty shoddy. The first few years of school, you live in large dormitory style buildings with hundreds of other students and communal bathrooms. On one hand, it is great for socializing and meeting new people, but on the other hand, it is often difficult to find some peace and quiet. Once your reach junior/senior status, living arrangements get a little better, but I have found them to still be inferior to options provided by other universities. It is also very difficult to live off-campus as the cost of living in Boston is incredibly high.
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?
Jason: BU has an incredibly diverse range of strengths. From the School of Hospitality Administration to the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program in the College of Arts and Sciences, you will find BU ranked amongst the very best. The School of Management is world-class. I cannot stress enough that BU provides a phenomenal education in almost any field of your choosing. From my personal experience as a Biochemistry & Molecular Biology major, I can say that my undergraduate education more than prepared me for the job market and chances to achieve higher education. Compared to programs at similar schools, I have gotten a significantly higher amount of hands-on experience working in laboratories with some world-class scientists. No matter what you’re studying, the faculty or your peers will not disappoint you.
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?
Jason: Making friends as a freshman at BU is incredibly easy. The first week is almost entirely dedicated to fun programs and activities aimed at introducing the freshman class to their peers. On top of that, you will most likely be living in a large dormitory style residence with plenty of other freshmen in the exact same situation. The floor you live on will often host activities to promote floor bonding and you will almost immediately have a good group of friends. Greek life is a small part of the social scene at BU, but those who participate in it tend to find it very rewarding.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Jason: I personally never used the Career Center at BU, but from what I have heard, it offers a lot of useful services. Students typically use the Career Center for help updating resumes / cover letters and finding leads for internships. I also know that, particularly in the School of Management, many reputable companies often attend recruitment events at BU to look for prospective employees. Departments also routinely send out information on open positions that are specifically seeking BU graduates.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Jason: BU has a large amount of excellent libraries that offer quiet study spaces. The main library, Mugar, can become relatively crowded, but there are always plenty of smaller libraries that have open areas for study. Some of the dorms also offer rooms or even entire floors dedicated to providing quiet space for students to study. Overall, it is not difficult to find a great place to study at BU.
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?
Jason: One of the main advantages of going to BU is that you have the entire city of Boston to explore. Weekends can be spent exploring the many historical sites scattered throughout the city or enjoying a nice walk through Boston Common. The city also has an excellent art museum and aquarium. Even just staying on campus can be exciting as BU often provides many interesting activities like concerts or performances by student groups. From my experience, most students end up staying on campus during the week and heading downtown to enjoy themselves on the weekends.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Jason: BU has about 16,000 undergraduate students, which is relatively large compared to many other universities. I found this class size to be refreshing because you always get the chance to meet new people. However, this does affect some class sizes negatively. Freshman and sophomore year, you will most likely be stuck in one or two large lecture style classes with around 200 enrolled students. This did not bother me too much, but for those who like one-on-one interaction with instructors, it can be a bit off-putting. However, BU does an excellent job of maintaining discussion-oriented classes at reasonable sizes. Any literature or foreign language classes you take will hardly ever exceed 25 students. As you progress further into your specialization, class sizes begin to get smaller as well.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Jason: One of the most memorable classes I have taken, and likely my favorite course at BU, was my sophomore year Cell Biology class. The class was taught by a professor named Geoffrey Cooper who, without a doubt, is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. The reason that this class stood out to me in particular is because it made me realize my passion for the subject. Attending lectures became exciting, and for the first time, I really felt like I was in a field in which I belonged. An experience like the one I had in this course is truly what college is all about.
Check out Jason’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.