The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Melissa is a Chicago tutor specializing in Algebra tutoring, Geometry tutoring, Pre-Calculus tutoring, and Trigonometry tutoring. She graduated from Colorado College in 2008 with her Bachelor’s in Mathematics. Take a look at her review of her school:
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?
Melissa: My college campus was just north of downtown Colorado Springs. We weren’t allowed to have a car freshman year, but I didn’t have a car during the entire four years. Although there were times when having one would have been convenient, I got by just fine without one. I had enough friends heading up to the mountains on the weekends, that it was easy to get a ride if I needed to go somewhere. There are buses that run through the city, but having a bike was sufficient for what I wanted to do in the community.
The campus setting was always exciting. There was always something going on with a group of free-spirited liberal arts students who showed a great amount of passion. The campus is small and beautiful. In just a few city blocks, there is a lot of open space on several quad spaces, where you can always find a game of Frisbee or a study group happening.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Melissa: My college functioned on what is called a Block Plan, so we took one class at a time, each lasting three and a half weeks. Because of the structure of the schedule, the professors were extremely available. I really had to dedicate myself to each class, and immerse myself in what I was learning. I really enjoyed that about the school, and being such a small liberal arts school, professors are also passionate about what they are teaching and want to be available.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Melissa: Most of the dorm rooms were pretty typical. We also have a couple of old mansions that were converted into dorm buildings, so I loved living in those buildings. We had to live on campus until junior or senior year, but with such a small campus, it really wasn’t a hassle living there. The dining food doesn’t compare to my mom’s casseroles, but it was fine. Keeping activities and living on campus provided an environment to really interact with my classmates, and now I am grateful for that.
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?
Melissa: I studied Math with an emphasis in Statistics. I double minored in Education Studies and Art Studio. The math program was actually incredibly small, with just eleven of us graduating the year that I did (and if I remember correctly, eight of us were girls!) The Political Science, Environmental Science, Biology, Sociology, and Economics departments were probably the most popular. The sciences were not incredibly specialized, like you see at some bigger schools. You can major in Physics, but they don’t have specific Engineering programs, for instance. I loved studying math because it was such a small department and I formed a lot of great relationships with the faculty. I loved immersing myself in math for a block, and then balancing it out the next block with an art class. I would say the college did a great job of supporting me, but it was really up to me to take advantage of all the great opportunities there for me.
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?
Melissa: Less than fifteen percent of students were involved in Greek life at my school. They certainly put on a lot of great events, but they didn’t have an overwhelming presence on campus. I met a lot of my closest friends by playing sports, and brushing my teeth in my hall. Classes are small, so that is another great way to form connections with people. I would say it was pretty easy meeting friends as a freshman.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Melissa: I was recruited with Teach For America on my campus. There were career fairs and the Career Center was certainly available to students. They have a great alumni pool that is an incredible resource. Most of my friends went into some sort of non-profit experience when they graduated, which usually weren’t recruited for on campus, but many of them had connections from the college in some way or another.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Melissa: Everyone has their own preferences, but the library was usually a great quiet place. It isn’t the prettiest building, but I know they have plans to renovate it. I did a lot of my studying in the departments of the classes I was taking. The math department had a great study lounge, where my professors were close by for questions, and it was nice having the space to collaborate and use the boards. I think it was pretty easy to find a study space regardless of how you like to study. Some people like to have more going on, so there were certainly always people in study lounges. There are also a few great coffee shops near campus if you needed to get away.
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?
Melissa: Downtown was really close and accessible, so it was easy to walk down there. Colorado Springs is a pretty conservative place, which creates some tension between the very progressive school and the city. Colorado Springs is home to many mega-churches and Focus On The Family. However, what I appreciated about being there was the proximity to the Garden of the Gods, lots of hiking, and Pike’s Peak. Going to ski at any of the big resorts was about a two and a half to three hour drive. Students tend to stay on campus during the week, and plenty of people leave to ski or hike or participate in the plethora of outdoor activities on the weekends. Denver is also just an hour away, with plenty of sports, concerts, or whatever you are looking for.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Melissa: There are roughly 1900 students, with only a small graduate program in Education. I didn’t necessarily know every person I graduated with, but it was nice that I had at least recognized them. I always thought it was overwhelming to think about being at a school that was bigger than my high school, and this was actually smaller. I think my biggest class was around 25 or 30, and had a few classes with five or less students. Sometimes I had two professors, so I felt like I got all of the individual attention I needed.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Melissa: As I look back, I am really amazed that I was actually able to study abroad through the school three times. I wrote a grant and designed my own project studying symmetries and geometries of Greek and Turkish mosaics. I also took a couple art classes in Paris one summer with the school, and lastly, I studied abroad for a semester in the Netherlands. Although I loved my time on campus, the college gave me opportunities abroad that I am so grateful for now because I was able to so much of the world.
Check out Melissa’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.