The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Megan is a Washington D.C. tutor specializing in many subjects such as AP English tutoring, Essay Editing tutoring, and all levels of Spanish tutoring. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish. 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?
Megan: Syracuse University is fairly urban. Upon first glance, it appears as though the city was built around the campus, but you really have to explore all of Syracuse to enjoy the city in its entirety. The campus provided a nice little bubble during my first two years, and as I returned to school with a car, I enjoyed exploring the rest of the city. There are buses downtown, as well as buses that circle the outskirts of campus, where many upperclassmen live. The campus is also fairly safe – the Department of Public Safety (DPS) hosts self-defense classes and has a heavy presence both on and off campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Megan: While for other schools this question may be subjective to the department, individual professor, or separate school, I can wholeheartedly and confidently say that everyone at SU wants you to succeed. They are available through office hours, email, and phone. Not only have I emailed a professor at 4am to have a response by 8am, but I’ve also spoken with a professor on his landline. Advisors, TAs, and professors all want you do well, and they are all willing to do whatever it takes to get you there.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Megan: I first went to Syracuse not knowing anyone there. It was because of the dorm life and its closeness that I was able to make friends and create a completely new and different social life. Freshman year, I lived in a Learning Community, which means that a group of freshmen live on the same floor and go to a one-credit class once a week. The International Living-Learning Community not only bolstered my social life, but it also bolstered my love for one of my majors, International Relations. I learned so many things of different cultures; at the end of the semester, we all went on a trip to Toronto together! Almost a year after graduating college, I still keep in touch with some of the people I lived with freshman year.
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?
Megan: When you go to Syracuse, it seems as though every school excels in what they study. The Newhouse School of Communications is famous for its famous alumni and rigorous schooling. The College of Arts and Sciences has many famous faculty members, including George Saunders, and boasts a multitude of different majors. Also, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs has been the top tier in the best MBA program in the nation for a few years running. I studied International Relations, Economics, and Spanish. Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture was solely housed in The College of Arts and Sciences, and it was one of the best decisions of my life thus far. Not only did I learn a language, but also many different nuances of all the different countries that make up Latin America, as well as Spain. Because of Syracuse’s scholarship programs, I was able to go abroad and live in Madrid, Spain, for a semester – something that neither I or my lower middle-class family had ever dreamed of! My International Relations major and Economics minor was housed in The College of Arts and Sciences, but taught by Maxwell faculty. Since Maxwell is the grad school, the undergraduate and graduate programs share faculty and some networking and job opportunities, but the undergraduate program is still technically through The College of Arts and Sciences.
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?
Megan: Coming to a different state not knowing anyone, I had minimal trouble making friends. As a freshman, SU does a lot in the dining halls and through the rooming process, as well as through different clubs that really allow you to explore different experiences and hobbies until you find your niche. While I was never a part of the social Greek life, many sororities and fraternities are present on campus. About 50% of the campus does take part in some sort of Greek life whether it be a social, academic, or ethnic club.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Megan: The Career Center was helpful in the generic form of resume writing, LinkedIn, and general career guidance. For more specific guidance within my field of International Relations, I relied heavily on meeting faculty of my choice outside of class for coffee or breakfast, as well as the Office of Advising and Academic Support within The College of Arts and Sciences. Many reputable companies do recruit on campus – Morgan Stanley, the CIA and the FBI, and of course, the Army and the Marines. To find a specific recruiter, you had to dig a little on your own; not everyone came to campus to recruit.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Megan: The best answer to this question, I feel, is that it depends. It depends on the time of day (many student unions and dorm lounges became crowded at dinner), and it also depends on the time of year. During finals and midterms week, the library was at its peak attendance. However, I always felt confident that I could find a quiet space to study and work.
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?
Megan: A lot of students would either take a bus to the mall downtown or to Armory Square, which turned out to be my favorite spot by senior year. I found many students felt it was unnecessary to leave campus because the campus is so insulated. Many people, especially those that come from larger cities, find Syracuse to be “boring” and “small.” Granted, it is a Rust Belt city, but there are plenty of activities and clubs off-campus to explore. In my opinion, not many students care to explore this.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Megan: There are about 32,000 students at Syracuse. I loved the sizes because it had the feel of a larger campus, but as you attended classes more in your line of study, you began to see the same people and form friendships with those people. Freshman year, I had a few classes that were 200+ (such as Earth Sciences 102, etc.), but by the time I got to Spanish 498 junior year, there were maybe 20 of us in one classroom. Classes generally begin large, but the classroom shrinks with each semester and class type.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Megan: The one experience that really sticks out is in my last semester, in a Spanish class of theater. The professor (who was also the Chair of the department) paired the class up and gave us a prompt to act out differences and similarities between the pairs. My partner and I each said how we were different (I am Irish, she is Guatemalan, etc.) and at the end, we said in unison how we were similar – we both are sisters, both are daughters, and both speak Spanish. At the end, the professor almost had tears in her eyes, and everyone applauded. This is one of my favorite memories from that last semester – getting a prompt, having a time limit of three minutes, working together with someone, and feeling so proud of our hard work. Moments like that make every headache and cup of coffee worth it.
Check out Megan’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.