The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Shawn earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Missouri State University in 2009. He is currently a St. Louis tutor specializing in SSAT tutoring, ISEE tutoring, writing tutoring, and more. See what he had to say about his experience at Missouri State University:
Describe the campus setting and transportation options.
Shawn: Missouri State's campus is very near downtown Springfield, MO and feels about as urban as Springfield can be. Some buildings are actually in downtown itself, including a fairly new art building repurposed from an old warehouse. MSU offers an excellent shuttle service in and around campus that runs all day until around 10pm most evenings. If you live and work on campus or near downtown, you do not really need a car and I highly suggest getting a bike; Springfield is a great biking town.
How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Shawn: It really depends. My advisor in the psychology department was usually available and always had posted office hours. When she went on maternity leave, however, it was difficult to get another advisor to meet with me. The T.A.'s are often very busy and, while they try their best their schedules, do not always make meetings easy. Full professors are generally easier to meet with.
How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Shawn: The nice thing about MSU dorms is there are many living options to choose from — traditional dorms, suite-style, 5 person suite-style, even single dorms for older students. There is also a special dorm for high-achieving students. Freudenberger, known as Freddy, is the main freshman dorm. It is older and not as nice as the others, however, it is large and a great place for freshmen to make new friends. I stayed in suite-style in Hammons house. The suite style dorms are not as good for socializing and the RA's are very strict. There are a number of clubs and activities on campus, but in all honestly, they are often not well-attended, aside from campus concerts. The dining rooms are decent, though people looking for organic or vegetarian options should consider alternative meal plan arrangements. I strongly recommend living off-campus after the freshman year. Housing is cheap in Springfield and there are safe neighborhoods full of other students in almost every direction near campus.
Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at Missouri State University?
Shawn: MSU was originally a teacher's college and the education department is still large and strong. I have heard positive things about that department. I felt as though there was excellent faculty and an amazing dean in the psych dept. during my time there. However, I do not feel that the university adequately funded our department.
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?
Shawn: I attended Westminster college as a freshman and transferred to MSU as a sophomore; however, I can say that people who lived in mostly freshman dorms like Freddy, had a fairly easy time making new friends. There are also freshmen-only activities during the first few weeks that I heard were also good for meeting new people. Greek life is present at MSU, but I would not say it makes up a significant role in campus social life. Given the ample opportunities for cheap housing in the area, most of the social activities take place in the neighborhoods around campus and downtown.
How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?
Shawn: The career center was very helpful in choosing a major. I met with a career counselor who spent lots of time talking to me, giving assessments, and helping me find information. I went from undergraduate to graduate studies, so I did not look into any on-campus recruitment.
How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges at Missouri State University?
Shawn: It depends. The student union and library are large and, while you may have to look a bit, it is usually not too hard to find a quiet spot. The dorm study lounges are rarely used and make great study spots.
Describe the surrounding town.
Shawn: Downtown Springfield has a lot to offer college students. There are many art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, lounges, clubs, bars, and several decent concert venues. The downtown area has undergone a revitalization in recent years and it is all geared toward college students. Most students above the age of 21 socialize downtown on a regular basis. Since downtown and campus are so close, it is easy to head that way.
How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Shawn: The student body is very large, but it does not feel that way on campus. Most classes are fairly small, around 15-25 students. One exception to this is lecture classes for undergraduate general education classes, which are held in large lecture halls with sometimes over 100 students.
Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Shawn: I fondly recall working as an undergraduate research assistant in the psychology department under Dr. Ann Branstetter-Rost. It was a great opportunity to expose myself to research and helped me get into graduate school. I also was given partial funding by the department to attend a conference with my lab in Phoenix, AZ my senior year.
Check out Shawn’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.