Should I Go To University of California, Irvine?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Son is a Los Angeles tutor specializing in Algebra tutoring, Geometry tutoring, Anatomy tutoring, and more. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science. 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?

Son: I attended UC Irvine and since my house was 14 miles away, I opted to commute to school during those four years. Traffic wasn’t so bad as long as classes were scheduled between 10am and 3pm. Therefore, this was something to consider if you commute. Light traffic would result in a 20-minute commute whereas it could potentially take 50 minutes during rush hour.     

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

Son: UC Irvine offers a peer tutoring service for its students in subjects that range from social sciences and English to math and biology. Academic advisors were always available for a scheduled meeting to discuss any concerns the student may have had. Most of my professors had weekly scheduled office hours where the student could come to ask for clarification on any concept presented in lecture. 

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

Son: Since I was commuter, I can’t comment on the dorm life and on-campus living situations. However, social events are always open to student commuters. There are a hundreds of clubs and organizations to join and I’m sure you can find one in your particular interest. 

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?

Son: I was a Biology major which helped me build a solid science foundation. This knowledge has tremendously helped me in preparing for the rigorous academic demand of graduate school. The education that I’ve received has assisted me in gaining admission to optometry school where I am a current graduate student at UC Berkeley School of Optometry.

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?

Son: I did not partake in joining a fraternity. However, due to the vast number of clubs and student organizations on campus, I’m 100% positive that any student can find a club that caters to his or her interest. Many clubs meet up once a week and it’s a great way to meet new people and establish long-term friendships.  

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

Son: The guidance counselor and Career Center played a huge role in helping me with my graduate school application. They’ve helped me refine my personal statement and resume, as well as assisted me in finding internships in the surrounding area. If you ever feel lost, their doors are always open if you have any questions or concerns.  

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

Son: Most libraries on campus are open to all students (aside from the few that are specifically reserved for graduate students). Some of the libraries are open 24 hours a day during finals week, so feel free to grab a blanket and coffee if you plan on studying on campus overnight. 

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? 

Son: UC Irvine is located in a very urban setting that is surrounded by many shopping centers and pubs/restaurants for students to relax and socialize during their downtime. The Irvine Spectrum and South Coast Plaza are two great shopping centers that are great for hangouts with friends. Both are located within a 30-minute drive from campus. 

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

Son: Being a Biology major, many of classes were in lecture halls that accommodated 400+ students. However, that isn’t always the case if you are in other majors, such as English, where the typical class size ranges from 20-40 students. Students are free to run for student body positions in their respective majors.

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

Son: One class that I particularly loved was a neuroscience course that dealt with the anatomy and physiology of the brain and eyes. Being that I was applying for optometry, this course really caught my interest since it gave me a glimpse of what I would be studying in optometry school. The professor was very welcoming and was always there for me during office hours if I had any questions in lecture, or if I wanted to expand on any concepts presented in the lecture. I established a great relationship with that professor which helped me in receiving a letter of recommendation for my application to optometry school. I’m currently in my last year in optometry school and five months away from receiving my doctorate degree. Even though I’ve been away from UC Irvine for graduate school, I still keep in touch with that professor throughout the years and I’m still learning from my professor since she does extensive ocular research.   

Check out Son’s tutoring profile.

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