Should I Go to University of Pittsburgh?

Nate is a Pittsburgh-based tutor specializing in science tutoring. He is studying psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Interested in attending the University of Pittsburgh? Nate shares his thoughts on his college experience:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options.

Nate: At some universities, like the one I go to (Pitt), they give you free public transportation with your tuition, so you can explore the city for free. The campus itself is very compact, but the more “city” vibe is about 15 minutes away. Pitt is in a neighborhood named Oakland, and that itself is more residential, with two busy streets running through them.

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

Nate: I’ve had a great experience with the professors, advisors, and TAs. Everyone is accessible by email and professors and TAs are required to have 3-5 office hours a week, so they always have times to meet during the week. The OMETs at the university are a teaching evaluation system, so it holds the professors accountable for being available to their students.

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

Nate: My experience at college was shaped by the residence life during my freshman year. I met about 80% of my best friends for the next four years on my floor, and my resident assistant always kept us busy and on task, while also doing fun things for us. The dining hall was exceptional. Some kids found the meals to get repetitive after eating there day after day, but personally, I was able to find different options throughout the week that always kept it appealing. Greek life and other student organizations, such as the Pitt Pathfinders, made socialization a breeze, incase one was having a hard time finding a social outlet to express themselves.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?

Nate: I am a bit biased because I am a pre-medicine student, but I think pre-med and engineering are the best represented and supported, mostly because that’s how Pitt contributes most to the current science literature. Although, all of the programs are very competitive and supported. I chose pre-medicine for a variety of reasons, but I chose to do it at Pitt because of the great resources found within the UPMC healthcare system. They provided many wonderful opportunities such as committed volunteer hours, hypothesis-driven research, and a chance to shadow some of the best physicians in medicine.  

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?

Nate: For me, it was very easy to meet people and become close friends immediately. I had a lot of friends from high school come to my college for freshman year, but I was able to branch out and meet people from backgrounds I was never accustomed to before. Greek life does make it easier to meet people, along with the many other organizations offered at the university. I had an easy time meeting people because the social atmosphere in my freshman year was incredible. Greek life, although it is the center of college for some people, was not the main social aspect at my college. It was only about 10% of the student population, so it definitely wasn’t a make-or-break decision whether you joined Greek life or not.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? 

Nate: The career center is a great resource that I have never really utilized much, but they offer many services such as resume review, mock interviews, and internship opportunities. There is a tremendous amount of student support services, like the stress relief zone and student counseling. Many reputable companies do recruit on campus. In the nearby downtown area, there are around six Fortune 500 companies and even more Fortune 1000 companies that tend to recruit in the area.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Nate: There are 15 libraries on campus, and the largest library on campus is by far the most popular. The libraries are typically not overcrowded, except during finals week when everyone crawls out of their houses to cram for finals. During that time, there are many other buildings on campus to be explored to find study spaces. There is definitely enough space to accommodate everyone, if that is a major concern.  

Describe the surrounding town.

Nate: The surrounding town of Pittsburgh is incredible, and many students tend to fall in love with it in the first year of college. I would definitely take advantage of the free transportation to explore as much as you can during the four years. Each neighborhood is known for its own unique specialty. There are also movie theatres and shopping venues. Our football stadium is also located downtown, so kids frequently travel downtown, either for sports or live shows at the theatres. However, if you’re not really feeling up to traveling out of the neighborhood every weekend, there are plenty of fun things to do right in the neighborhood where campus is located.

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

Nate: The undergraduate population at Pitt is about 19,000 students, which I think is a small enough school to have intimate relationships and be able to walk down the street and see people you know, but it was also large enough to avoid people you don’t like, if it was really necessary! Our student to faculty ratio is 14:1, so the class sizes have never been that troubling. About 7% of the classes were 100 or more students, and 58% of the classes were 30 or less students, so it won’t be that much of a change from high school. For those big classes, they do break it down into smaller review sections once a week.

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

Nate: One professor I really loved was my organic chemistry teacher. The class material was obviously very loaded and pretty difficult, but she made it very manageable and was very understanding to the students who were having a hard time and were making an effort. She was very accessible and was very thoughtful when writing letters of recommendations for her students and TAs. She really made the class enjoyable, even though the material was enough to make some students’ hair turn gray.


Check out Nate’s tutoring profile.

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