Should I Go To Rutgers University-New Brunswick?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Max received his bachelor’s degree in materials science from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He is currently a tutor in Philadelphia specializing in algebra, pre-algebra, pre-calculus, and several other subjects. See what he had to say about his experience at Rutgers University-New Brunswick:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or rural is the campus? Did you feel safe on campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Max: Rutgers University-New Brunswick is pretty expansive. It’s one of Rutgers’ three campuses in New Jersey, yet it has four (or, some might argue, five) sub-campuses within it. This makes an intercampus bus necessary – if you live on the Busch campus, you can’t walk to the Douglass campus easily at all – but walking within one sub-campus from a residence to a classroom is simple and quick.

The Busch campus is a science and engineering setting with many research and classroom buildings, and a high number of on-campus apartments, many of which are occupied by graduate students. The Livingston campus is the smallest campus, but it’s also the newest; it contains genuine storefronts such as Starbucks and Qdoba, as well as many freshman dorms and new, modern apartments.

The College Avenue campus is the heart of student life; it contains a plethora of off-campus housing, a variety of on-campus options, two different student centers, and lots of small eateries just off campus. Deeper into the off-campus areas, some say it’s unsafe, but most feel safe walking alone at night here.

The undefined area between College Avenue and the Cook/Douglass campus is more treacherous; however, each on-campus area is quite safe. Cook/Douglass describes two overlapping campuses, the former of which hosts the biological and environmental science schools, and the latter of which is a renowned women’s college. Each has similar living options to the other campuses, as well as a small off-campus section. Each also is very bike friendly, and having a car on campus isn’t necessary.

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

Max: Professors and teaching assistants are very clear about their out-of-classroom office hours in case students need extra help. Academic advising is less clear at Rutgers. Each school within Rutgers University-New Brunswick seems to have a different approach to advising. For instance, one department might match a student to an adviser in his freshman year; this relationship then lasts the entirety of the student’s college stay. However, another school might invite students to schedule an appointment with the Dean’s office, and receive advising from a randomly chosen faculty member.

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

Max: Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s dorm life is particularly strong. After a student chooses to enroll at Rutgers, I highly suggest deeply exploring freshman on-campus housing options before filling out the housing application, and possibly before even declaring a major. There are countless living-learning communities available on campus to incoming students. Friendships made in these locales – often dorms – last into on-campus apartments (of which there are too few) or off-campus houses.

Dorms tend to be located close to either classrooms or dining halls. Each sub-campus has its own dining hall and many classrooms. Each campus also has student centers that can help expand on the social atmosphere of dorms and allow students to interact with classmates in a different way. These student centers also have quieter areas for studying.

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?

Max: It’s tough to decide which programs are best represented and supported, but I can say with certainty that the school is known for its philosophy program, and that the job placement rate in the electrical and computer engineering school is exceptionally high. I studied materials science, but Rutgers University-New Brunswick struggles to support this field. Career fairs contained few employers seeking this degree, and the program could use substantial administrative improvement.

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?

Max: Greek life is quite influential on campus, but it’s super easy to make friends and meet people without joining a fraternity or sorority. Joining a club with a moderate to large number of members that share common interests with you is an excellent way to make new friends. Rutgers University-New Brunswick has hundreds of student organizations, and there’s a list of them all somewhere on the website. Anything that might be a subject of fascination, no matter how ridiculous or remote, probably has a club devoted to it.

Another possible way to form new friendships is to live in a living-learning community, as I briefly mentioned earlier. Common passions and interests are developed in earnest here.

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

Max: My only experience with the Career Center on campus is asking for resume advice, which proved very helpful. However, many students I know have complained quite strongly about Career Services’ flaws. That said, reputable companies recruit often from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. I know that groups ranging from Merck (a pharmacy giant) to even the CIA have hired Rutgers University-New Brunswick undergraduates.

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

Max: Libraries almost certainly overcrowd during exam periods, with the exception of Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus, which is far too large to ever overcrowd. Student centers quickly overcrowd as well, but dorm lounges frequently reflect the size of the dorm, and therefore pretty much never overcrowd. It’s not that these spaces don’t have enough room – rather, it’s that so many people want them. That said, there are an abundance of spaces to seek out.

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? 

Max: New Brunswick has a vibrant downtown area with restaurants ranging from established chains (Chipotle, Subway) to small local businesses. For the artistically inclined crowd, there’s an art museum at the edge of campus and a few musical venues, too. Students quite often leave campus, especially on the weekends, to find fun things to do. However, living far from the College Avenue campus frequently limits a student’s ability to explore the downtown area. Buses don’t often make stops in this area, and on weekends, buses run so infrequently that it’s anxiety-inducing to try to leave campus unless you live there.

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

Max: Being a state school, Rutgers University-New Brunswick is incredibly diverse. Class size is wholly dependent on major and class level; an introductory psychology class will have hundreds of students, but an upper-level engineering lab may only have ten. Class size never phased my ability to learn.

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

Max: My most memorable experience was actually an online class. There’s a different kind of playing field in an online class, one in which all students are truly equal. A professor teaching an online class cannot see our faces, and vice versa; furthermore, all students are able to work at their own pace. It was therefore most enjoyable for me to take two online classes, one each in two consecutive semesters, with the same professor. It can be easiest to adapt to a professor’s teaching methods online due to the increased flexibility.

What made these classes most memorable was their subject matter. Prof. Sean Lorre’s online classes on Jazz Appreciation/Black Music History and Rock n’ Roll History were two of my six required humanities (non-engineering) classes, and they stuck with me the most strongly. The reading existed in a familiar cultural context, and the follow-up questions truly encouraged learning rather than rote memorization. I learned a lot of valuable information not only about art and music, but also about society and race relations in America.

Check out Max’s tutoring profile.

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