A Student Perspective on University of Houston

Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from University of Houston in 2012. Subjects she specializes in include Spanish tutoring, math tutoring, and reading tutoring. Below she shared her experience with student life at University of Houston:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options.

Melissa: The campus is just southeast of downtown Houston, right next to an up and coming neighborhood called EaDo (east end downtown). Houston itself is rich in culture, diversity, and plenty of exciting things to do. The campus reflects this and they have plenty of events ongoing through the year, run both by the campus and student groups. They just built a new football stadium a few years ago, so campus pride is at an all-time high. I always felt safe on campus, there were a few incidents that happened throughout my years, but security on campus was pretty quick to respond and they were always around. The campus itself has shuttles, but most buildings within your major will be concentrated in one location. The campus has a city light rail station that runs next to it and can easily take your downtown. The bus system is pretty vast, due to the fact that Houston is a very spread out city. However, it is not known for being the quickest. Your best bet would be to get a car or bike to travel around Houston.

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

Melissa: All the people I had on campus were very welcoming and willing to work with me. All you have to do is ask!

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

Melissa: The University of Houston (UH) has a student body that consists mainly of commuters. However, if you decide to live on campus, there are plenty of things to do in the evenings. The campus is located next to a few major attractions/landmarks, so there is always something to do. The campus also has expansive food options.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?

Melissa: The best known programs are the creative writing doctoral program, Bauer business, architecture, law, optometry, and pharmacy schools. All majors and programs are well supported by the university. I decided major in Political Science, with a minor in world culture and languages (German concentration). UH did an excellent job providing opportunities for people within my major, like offering internships through a program called the Civic Houston Internship Program (CHIP). CHIP connected us with local government offices and organizations to help us get field experience as well as establish career connections. I also did a study abroad and they have an office dedicated to helping us with information and departure.

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?

Melissa: I did not attend UH as a freshman, I came in as a transfer. However, they had enough activities at the beginning of each semester that made my arrival very welcoming. It also gave me a chance to meet with people and join clubs. There is Greek life; however it does not play a huge role there and does not feel overwhelming. They do help out with major events.

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

Melissa: The career center is actually a hidden gem. They offer a wide variety of services such as how to boost your resume and mock interviews. They also run a job board that many reputable companies use. There are some job fairs that take place throughout the year and many major companies recruit, but I did not attend any.

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

Melissa: The MD Anderson library is 8 stories tall, with plenty of open space, conference, and study rooms. There are plenty of quiet rooms if you don’t want any distractions (the joke is the higher up you go, the less people you will run into). The library has great weekday and weekend hours, and they even open 24 hours during finals week. They just built a new student center which is really big and has a lot of space. There is also a smaller student center located on the south side of campus if you want to grab a coffee or quick bite to eat. It is kind of underground, but there are a lot of spaces inside and outside to sit and relax (or study).

Describe the surrounding town.

Melissa: UH is located in Houston, not too far from major local attractions. As the fourth largest city in the U.S., there is always something exciting to do. The campus also has a venue that hosts major comedians and musical acts from time to time. Houston is rich in diversity and culture, any type of food or drink you crave, you can certainly find there. The city has some dedicated green spaces that host a lot of free events throughout the year, such as concerts, fitness, and there is almost always a cultural festival going on. Downtown Houston is where most business is conducted, but the neighborhoods around downtown are the places to go. There, you can find world-class restaurants, art galleries, and any cultural thing you can think of. The campus is located in a residential neighborhood, but it is close enough to plenty major attractions.

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

Melissa: UH is a huge campus. There are an estimated 40,000 students, so during the semester the campus is really bustling with activity. The only classes I had that were more than 100 students were my introductory classes where students needed a certain credit. However, the professors in those classes or the TAs were readily available. For the rest of the higher level classes I had, there were no more than 25 or 30 students per class. I was very pleased with the class sizes because as long as you put in the effort of scheduling a time with a professor or took advantage of their office hours, they were always willing to meet.

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

Melissa: I had one professor, Professor Jackson, who seemed intimidating at first. He was a former prosecutor and very sharp. Over time, I learned that he was extremely nice and would always make the effort of helping students that were looking for it. It took me until my second introductory to law class with him to finally approach him for help. Be sure to always ask for help. The right university will always offer some sort of help, and UH had a wide variety of resources available to its students, sometimes you just had to do a bit of digging. Take a weekend to see what your university offers; you may be surprised at how much support they have available!

Check out Melissa’s tutoring profile.

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