The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Kristine is a San Diego tutor and 2006 graduate of Virginia Tech. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and tutors several subjects, including Biology tutoring, Chemistry tutoring, and Ecology tutoring. Check out what Kristine had to say about her time at Virginia Tech:
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?
Kristine: Virginia Tech is located in a quintessential college town. Blacksburg is in southwest Virginia, with a population that grows by about 50% when the students arrive in the fall. Transportation options around Blacksburg and the campus are plentiful. Blacksburg Transit (BT) is a public bus service, and its cost is included in your student fees. All you need to do in order to ride the bus is show your student ID. However, the town is small, so off-campus commuters only need to travel one to three miles one-way to reach the campus. Many students walk or bike as a result. Parking is generally pretty easy.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Kristine: My personal experience was that the educational staff was very accessible. Professors set reasonable office hours, and they were generally flexible if the hours they set conflicted with your class schedule. I always received an email back from a professor within 24 hours, and I found that professors were very personable and down to earth.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Kristine: Most freshmen live on campus during their first year at Virginia Tech. While most of the dorms are a little outdated, a few are very modern. Dorm life is all about meeting new people, making new friends, and discovering who you are. There are so many events and opportunities to try new things, so do not hold back! Try everything!
The dining options are very diverse, from buffet-style dining halls, to a la carte dining halls, to Chick-fil-A and Sbarro. There are also off-campus eateries. The university has won multiple awards for the quality of their food options on campus. (I personally love West End Market!)
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?
Kristine: Virginia Tech is well known for its outstanding Engineering programs. However, science is also very strong and well supported. I studied Biology because there were so many aspects of the field that fascinated me: Developmental Biology, Ecology, Medical Applications. The Biology program was well supported and well advised. Students were encouraged to seek out undergraduate research opportunities in the labs of departmental faculty. My experience in a lab was crucial to my getting a job right after graduation at a non-profit biotechnology institute, as well as to preparing me for graduate school.
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?
Kristine: Meeting new people as a freshman is dependent on your willingness to move outside of your comfort zone. There are so many opportunities to meet new people, who, just like you, have moved away from their homes and are thrown into a new environment. Your dorm and the activities that the Resident Advisers put on are great ways to meet new people. You can also make great friends who double as study partners in your classes, as well as friends who double as workout buddies at the gym! I never joined a Greek organization because it never fit my personality, but I know a lot of people who really enjoyed it. However, it is possible to be social and have a great time without joining a fraternity or sorority.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Kristine: My personal experience with the Career Center was with resume help toward the end of my studies. They were very professional and helpful. I also attended a few career fairs, but I ended up finding a job through an online posting.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Kristine: My preferred study areas were my dorm room or the dorm lounge. I always found the public study areas to be easily accessible, comfortable, and sufficiently quiet.
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?
Kristine: Blacksburg is a small college town, but there is plenty to keep students busy. Aside from the campus activities, there is an independent movie theater that shows blockbusters (usually after they have left the major theaters), old movies, and fun cult classics. The independent movie theater is a much cheaper option than a mainstream one. The area surrounding Blacksburg is great for hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. There is also a beautiful frisbee golf course about five miles from campus. Downtown Blacksburg is located right next to campus.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Kristine: The undergraduate student body is very typical for a state university, with about 25,000 undergraduates. Most introductory courses were large lectures with 200-300 students, while the more advanced courses ranged from 20-100 students.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Kristine: I was enrolled in General Microbiology with Professor Benoit during my sophomore year. One day during lecture, the door at the front of the class opened and a young man dressed in a green leotard and a green mask ran in, looked around the classroom, and proceeded to sprint up the stairs toward the door at the back of the class. Seconds later, the first door opened again and two more young men ran in, dressed as Batman and Robin. They spotted the green man and chased him up the stairs and out the door. Professor Benoit smiled heartily and continued his lecture. Looking back on this moment, it embodies the culture of fun and personal expression at Virginia Tech.
Check out Kristine’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.