The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Aki is a Los Angeles tutor specializing in several subjects including SAT prep tutoring, Japanese tutoring, Calculus tutoring, and more. He graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. See what he had to say about 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?
Aki: My campus is in Westwood, so it is very urban and the campus is safe. There are buses that have routes all around UCLA, and a car/bike is not necessary to get around. Having a bike is actually a pain because UCLA is built on many hills and the walk between classes includes at least one hill, and those hills are harder on a bike.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Aki: Honestly, my professors were not very available as they were very busy with their own research, and most of my professors (in Electrical Engineering) were not very sociable. The teaching assistants were the same way, as almost all of my TAs were international students and they were also busy with their own studies and research. The academic advisors were available, having office hours at their given times, and I was welcome to walk in at any time during those hours.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Aki:The dorm life is on the top of my list as the source of opportunities to meet new people and make new friends. From making friends on your floor to meeting other people from other dorms through the people you meet, the opportunities are endless. The dorms in UCLA are all located on one ascending hill, so they are all built close to each other and the walk from dorm to dorm is very short. The dorm administration puts on social events such as ice cream socials and dances, and the dining halls at UCLA are very good.
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?
Aki: UCLA attempts to represent most of the programs equally, but I think that the Engineering programs were better represented because of the number of buildings dedicated to just Engineering programs and the number of events and info sessions. I studied Electrical Engineering because I grew up dealing with and playing on electronics. The university did a good job supporting Electrical Engineering through the number of research opportunities and the company info sessions, but they could improve on the quality of professors.
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?
Aki:it was easy for me to meet people and make friends as a freshman because my dorm floor was very social and went to dining halls together for meals throughout the day. Greek life is a large influence at UCLA, but it is not for everyone, as it was not for me. It is a place where you can make more friends and form a “brotherhood” or a “sisterhood,” but some of the Greek programs are more known for parties, raids, and loose social conduct despite how hard some of the fraternities/sororities emphasize the importance of brotherhood/sisterhood and professionalism.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Aki: The Career Center hosts career fairs every quarter, and they are very helpful for networking and spreading your resume to obtain the internship or full-time offer you seek. I do not know about the career fairs in general, but the Technology and Engineering career fairs host many reputable companies such as Qualcomm, Microsoft, Apple, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and many more.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Aki:The study areas, in general, are very nice and clean, and are easily available most of the time. However, when midterm or finals season comes, the libraries are over-crowded and it is hard to find yourself a space to study.
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?
Aki: UCLA is in the heart of Westwood, with many different restaurants, movie theaters, and other shops that make life in Westwood fun and entertaining. Westwood Village is a five to ten minute walk away from campus, so it is very accessible and many students go there often. Downtown and Santa Monica are easily reachable through the public transportation system, so many students take trips there over the weekend.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Aki: The student body is large at UCLA. The typical class sizes were large at best, and usually over-crowded. This made it even harder to reach a professor or speak to a TA, and getting into a class during registration periods was sometimes difficult.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Aki: I took a Digital Signal Processing Design class that taught me how digital signal processing systems work in general and how to apply our previous knowledge to create a program that would do a specific digital signal processing application. This class, unlike my other classes where the classes consisted only of book-learning, was fun because I got to program an application where I applied my digital signal processing knowledge to create a guitar tuner. UCLA’s EE signals and systems classes lack actual application, and this class was one of the only classes where I enjoyed applying my book knowledge to real-world problem solving.
Check out Aki’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.