The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Aaron is a Miami tutor specializing in Spanish tutoring, Essay Editing tutoring, Literature tutoring, and more. He graduated from the University of Miami in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. 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?
Aaron: The campus is very safe, and the security guards / police force have a strong presence to make the students feel protected. That being said, the surrounding area is so nice that there isn’t even a great need for them, but they’re there for you anyway. In terms of transportation, a bike can get you most anywhere you need to go; trips to the mall or grocery shopping are done in minutes, and the MetroRail, a monorail with service which reaches most of Miami Dade County, allows passengers to bring their bikes. The university also has shuttles running round the clock to get people where they need to be around the campuses (including the Marine Science campus on Key Biscayne).
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Aaron: I can’t speak for all of the programs and professors at UM, but in my experience, they were constantly available and accessible for whatever questions may arise. The same goes for the academic administration; your advisers, deans, and other officials have great availability and accessibility. President Shalala can often be found walking around campus engaging students.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Aaron: I never stayed in the dorms, but from what I have seen, they are more functional than flashy. The emphasis is on student safety, which makes sense considering hurricanes are a very real problem we have to face living in South Florida. To cope with this reality, the dorm buildings were designed to be the safest buildings in the entire county in terms of withstanding hurricanes.
The cafeterias were not popular among the students, though I personally loved them. They’re buffet style, so after working out at the gym, I would pop into the cafeteria and eat to my heart’s content. Despite the food not being popular amongst the student body, everyone loves the staff. They are definitely the friendliest assemblage of people in the entire university.
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?
Aaron: UM kind of has the “practical” areas of study vibe – lots of premed, prelaw, and even pre-veterinarians as well as engineers, Business Administration, etc. This isn’t to say that the other programs are lacking. I studied English Literature and received a wide breadth of tutelage from professors specializing in a wide variety of topics. And despite seeming like the perfect place for Latin American or Caribbean Literature, UM is definitely a hotbed for British andIrish Literature, particularly the work of James Joyce. There are a few literary journals based out of UM, and there seems to be ample room for future growth in that field as well as others.
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?
Aaron: Meeting people was easy. The university plays a big role in facilitating that process. Greek life is so-so; a lot of people are into it but there are so many other things to do and see in Miami that no one feels pressured to get involved if they don’t want to.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Aaron: Toppel Career Center has to be among the best in the nation at what they do. They helped me tremendously in terms of job hunting and advising. There are a lot of big companies which frequently visit UM, especially those with a Latin American or foreign slant. For example, the School of Communication is practically a feeder school into Telemundo, Univision, and other Spanish language television companies. Ditto for the business school and its proximity to the many corporate headquarters in downtown Coral Gables (Bacardi, Club Med, and many others).
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they overcrowded, easily available, spacious?
Aaron: Students have a wide variety of choices as to where they study. Some prefer the library or the stacks, others prefer reading by the pool, and a lot of students just stay in their dorms. The university sets up hammocks on certain palm trees during finals – it’s awesome.
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?
Aaron: There is nowhere else in the world like Miami. It has the nickname of being “The Gateway to the Americas” and “The Capital of Latin America,” and it is here that you can find whole communities made up of people from around the world. I knew someone who had Cubans, Spaniards, Koreans, and African Americans living on the same street as he did growing up. If being exposed to a huge variety of cultures is of interest to a possible applicant, there is really no better place than Miami.
A lot of students don’t venture from campus or the surrounding municipalities aside from Miami Beach, but there are many ways to take advantage of this global city for those who chose to do so.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Aaron: The campus is never overwhelmingly big or small; it’s constantly floating in a happy medium. There are a few big seminar classes, but the majority of them were around 1015 students per class.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Aaron: One of my professors had just finished writing a book and did a reading from it at the local bookstore. I went, and amongst those in the audience were all of my other professors. English Literature can be an individualistic endeavor for many people, so seeing my other professors there supporting another one of my professors was awesome. The feeling of camaraderie was palpable, and I truly felt like I was amongst friends.
Check out Aaron’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.