The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Abir is a New York City tutor specializing in Chemistry tutoring, ISEE prep tutoring, SSAT prep tutoring, Writing tutoring, and more. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Biology. 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?
Abir: Johns Hopkins is situated perfectly in the northern part of Baltimore right at the border between urban downtown Baltimore and suburban neighborhoods. As such, I felt very safe on campus because of the numerous attentive security personnel. There are multiple public transportation options, such as the Baltimore MTA and Circulator to travel to the Inner Harbor or the College Town Shuttle to visit the incredible indoor mall in Towson. However, the buses are not always punctual and I didn’t truly appreciate Baltimore for the charming city it is until I had my own car. However, having a car is not a necessity; all of Johns Hopkins campuses, including the Medical Institute, School of Public Health, and Peabody are available via the free JHMI shuttle.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Abir: In my experience, the faculty at Johns Hopkins is easily approachable and available for study questions as well as informal career advising. If a student shows preparation and thought with regard to their academic and career work, the faculty will show a vested interest in your success.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Abir: Dorm life at Hopkins can be an amazing experience. There are numerous new housing options such as the recently erected Charles Common. The dining options during freshman and sophomore years are not numerous, but all the venues make a concerted effort to provide the most diverse options possible. Options include the Fresh Food Café, a cafeteria style option primarily for freshmen and sophomores; Levering Hall, a great lunch spot that offers hand-made sandwiches, Mexican food, a salad bar, and a grill; and the Charles Street Market, which serves as a small grocery store with options for hand-made Boar’s Head sandwiches and its own Einstein Brother’s Bagels. There are numerous opportunities for socialization, which typically begin and end with Greek-sponsored events. However, the city of Baltimore itself provides excellent opportunities for off-campus fun as well.
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?
Abir: Johns Hopkins prides itself in its focus on the sciences, particularly health and engineering, as well as creative writing. Approximately 90% of the student body focuses on a health or biology-related major or an engineering major. I studied Behavioral Biology, a relatively new and small major. I focused on Behavioral Biology because I was able to tailor it to my personal interests in behavior and neuroscience well because of it was a nascent major. The university did a great job supporting my interests; this is not surprising, considering the number of premedical students at Johns Hopkins. If you are planning to be a doctor, an engineer, a researcher, or a writer, I would highly recommend Johns Hopkins to all.
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?
Abir: It was not difficult at all to meet people and make friends. Freshman year is chock-full of events that foster meaningful socialization, and most people find a solid friend group by the end of the year. Having said that, many students are very academic and career-oriented and as a result, it can be difficult to find a diverse array of friends in terms of academic and career goals. Greek life plays a significant role in campus social life, but it can be easily avoided, if you choose. It is all a matter of preference and differs from student-to-student.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Abir: The Career Center at Hopkins is unparalleled. There are numerous job fairs and any motivated student will find exactly what they seek. The close proximity of Washington, D.C. provides numerous career opportunities ranging from research to corporate positions. Other student support services, such as pre-health advising, are exceedingly helpful, though often very intense. It will harden you as a student and potential applicant for any and all graduate programs, ultimately grooming you to be the best you can be.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Abir: In my experience, the library at Johns Hopkins is the best in the world. They have a serious commitment to consistently improve it year after year. With the addition of the new Brody Learning Commons and the recent renovation of Gilman Hall, there is no shortage of places to study, all found in a wide range of environments. This is absolutely one of the best advantages of attending Johns Hopkins. The student union is lacking, mostly because there is none that exists; however, the student body does an excellent job of providing events and various places to meet and socialize. All study and dorm areas are almost always easily available and spacious, though some of the hot spots can get overrun during exam season.
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?
Abir: I cannot stress enough how much I love Baltimore. There are several amazing places to eat and visit from the Inner Harbor to the surrounding neighborhoods. Baltimore truly lives up to its name as the Charm City with its own unique charm and attraction – you just have to know where to go. Additionally, Washington, D.C. is a short car trip or train ride away and you can travel virtually anywhere via the DC Metro. Most students live on or near campus, but whether or not a student goes to the downtown area or stays around campus varies on an individual basis. Most students, however, do visit the downtown area regularly.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Abir: The student body consists of approximately 5,000 undergraduates. This is a great number because you still get the small class sizes in certain classes, but there are great enough numbers of students to allow for a great amount of diversity within each class. I was generally pleased with the class size, though I would have preferred if some of the basic classes had less students.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Abir: Nearly all of my most memorable experiences at Hopkins have been with the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project, a volunteer organization which pairs Hopkins students as tutors with elementary and middle school students from the local community. Working every day to make a difference in another student’s life while utilizing my academic skills was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. This is a great representation of the incredible array of volunteer opportunities available at Johns Hopkins.
Check out Abir’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.