University of California, Irvine: A Student Interview

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Khristine earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from University of California, Irvine in 2016. Subjects she specializes in include biology tutoring, ACT science tutoring, and others. Check out what she had to say about her time at University of California, Irvine:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options.

Khristine: I lived in the dorms during my first year at UC Irvine, and then commuted for the remaining years. While living at UCI, there are shuttles that most students take if they live in apartments surrounding UCI or if they want to go the gym, which is on the other side of campus. The dorms are located on campus, so students usually walk to class. The campus itself is in the shape of a circle, so it is very easy to walk or bike around campus. Most people just walk, however, so most people who live on campus don’t bring a car or bike. The campus is located within a suburban town, and is known as one of the safest cities in America. The environment is very welcoming and has a positive atmosphere.

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants at University of California, Irvine?

Khristine: It depends on the class and what you are majoring in. Most professors and teaching assistants are fairly helpful, but in some classes you have to make a bigger effort if you need help. Certain majors, such as biology, typically have very large class sizes. Some of my classes had 350-400 people in them, with one professor and a couple of TA’s. Both the professors and TA’s have office hours, so if you need help, those are good to go to. Not too many people attend office hours, so they’ll only be a few people asking questions. Discussion sections, which are led by TA’s, are also much smaller than the lecture classes, so it is easier to ask questions then. Academic advisers can be found in their offices, and you can go ask questions by walk-in or appointment. Around the time of registration, the academic advising office can get pretty busy, so it’s a little more difficult at that time.

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

Khristine: UC Irvine has two freshman dorms located on campus. The one dorm, Middle Earth, is located in the middle of campus, and is a very quick walk to most classes. The other dorm, Mesa Court, is also located on campus, but more towards the edge, so it takes a few extra minutes to get to most classes. It’s still only about a ten to fifteen minute walk. Middle Earth has two dining commons and Mesa has one located inside. As for other dining options, both are relatively close to the student center, which has several other food options. The rooms are normal size for dorms, and already come with some furniture. Living in the dorms is a great way to meet people and make friends your first year, as you’ll be living with other freshman. There are also several social activities held in each dorm to make it easier for everyone to get to know each other.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at University of California, Irvine?

Khristine: UC Irvine has many different majors, but is well known for Biology. A large amount of students are biology majors, with many hoping to go into the healthcare field. There are also several types of majors within biology, such as neurobiology or human biology, if there is a specific concentration you want to focus in on. I was a biology major, and really enjoyed it. I knew I wanted to go into the healthcare field when I started at UCI, and being a biology major helped me to decide that I really want to go on to nursing. As for the major, the professors are very knowledgeable, and although the major was challenging, I was able to learn a lot. There is a lot of support for this major, and the university does a good job of informing students on different opportunities.

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?

Khristine: Living in the dorms during my first year made it easier to meet people. The summer before my freshman year began, I participated in UCI’s summer start program, now called Freshman Edge. This program only had freshmen, and was a great way to meet people. Not as many people do this summer session, so there are less people on campus, and most people became close to the other freshmen they lived with during the program. The summer start program was about five weeks, and there were many social activities throughout the summer. Also, getting involved on campus is a great way to meet people. I never joined a sorority, so I can’t speak much to that. There are many clubs on campus that are good to join because you’ll meet people who are interested in the same activities or organizations as you.

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

Khristine: I didn’t go to the career center much myself, but I have friends who said they were very helpful. They hold many workshops and a couple of career fairs throughout the year. The workshops vary in what they’re about, but include help on resume writing, interviews, and jobs amongst other topics. UCI also has a website called Zotlink, that frequently posts available jobs or internships. It is a great resource where I found several opportunities on.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges at University of California, Irvine?

Khristine: There are two libraries on campus that stay open until about 11PM during the week, except on Fridays. The hours are also different during the summer. In addition, there are many study areas throughout campus, with the dorms having their own study rooms. There is also a study room at the student center, as well as several other spots throughout the campus. They are all range in different sizes, but are fairly spacious. During the majority of the quarter, they do not get over-crowded, but during finals it can be kind of hard to find an open space. However, some of the study rooms allow you to reserve a spot ahead of time, which will help make sure you get a spot.

Describe the surrounding town.

Khristine: Across from campus, there is the University Town Center (UTC). The UTC has several places to eat. There are many things to do around Irvine, with it only being a short drive away from the Irvine Spectrum Mall or South Coast Plaza. There are also a few other shopping plazas and movie theaters that are pretty close to campus, and are great places to hang out with friends. It’s also not far from San Diego, and is fairly close to several beaches. Many students like to go to Newport Beach, and some students bike there. Most students who live in the dorms don’t have a car on campus, so many don’t go quite as far.

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

Khristine: The entire school has about 30,000 students. Some of the class sizes can be fairly large. A lot of my biology classes had about 400 students in each lecture, so if you have questions, you should really go to office hours. There are only a few majors that have small class sizes.

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

Khristine: In my last year at UCI, I took a class on insect biodiversity. I was surprised by how much I liked the class. Originally, I only signed up for the course because I needed an upper division biology course, and that particular class was the only one that matched my schedule. However, the professor was very enthusiastic about the material, and I ended up learning a lot. I enjoyed taking a class that still had to do with biology, but was a little different than the rest of the courses I took while at UCI. It was also one of the smallest biology classes I took at UCI, so there was more communication with the professor. Besides learning about different material, we had some interesting assignments throughout the quarter that was a little more hands on. The class itself has nothing to do with what I plan to do in the future, since I want to go into healthcare, but it was nice to study a different aspect of biology.


Check out Khristine’s tutoring profile.

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