The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Marci is a Phoenix tutor specializing in Algebra tutoring, Calculus tutoring, and Chemistry tutoring. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Check out her review of her alma mater:
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?
Marci: Michigan State University in East Lansing is a large, nature-filled campus at the heart of a college town. I always felt safe at MSU and it was easy to walk or take the bus to restaurants and cafes in town, or in the capital city of Lansing. The bus system at MSU is rated one of the best in the country, so you definitely don’t need a car. Some people prefer biking because the campus is so large, and there is even a bike shop on campus.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Marci: It was so easy for me to make appointments with professors, even if I wasn’t taking their class. This is what led me to decide to apply to graduate school, because professors from all different fields, from Environmental Sociology to Agricultural Economics, were so open to helping me on my projects and career decisions. I was in the Honors College as well as Lyman Briggs College so I had several advisors to choose from, and they were all very helpful. During my undergraduate, I wish I had contacted teaching assistants more. Now that I am a teaching assistant at Arizona State University, I realize how helpful they can be for students to talk to.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Marci: I lived in the Lyman Briggs College dorm for three years and I absolutely loved it. Some of my best friends are from that same floor, and we would always go to the cafeteria together, or on weekends go to a nearby restaurant or see a free movie on campus. There were always vegetarian options at the cafeterias, and it was easy to grab a meal in between classes or lab wherever you were on campus. Even though MSU is a big campus with a lot of students, I always ran into someone that I knew in the cafeteria!
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?
Marci: MSU is a research university as well as a land grant college, so all majors are well supported but Science and Math are especially good programs. I was in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program, which is one of the most rigorous majors, and something that really helped me was getting good foundation of chemistry, biology, and physics through the Lyman Briggs College. I also worked in labs and as a teaching assistant and I learned a lot about biochemistry through those extracurricular activities.
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?
Marci: It was extremely easy for me to make friends at MSU. My younger sister is there now, and she’s having a similar experience of meeting lots of friendly people. Because Lyman Briggs College is a residential learning experience, I was in the same dorm as other students in my labs and classes so we became friends by studying together. Greek life has a big role at MSU but I was never involved.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Marci: I never interacted with MSU’s Career Center, but I wish I had!
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Marci: MSU has a lot of places to study on campus and I utilized them often. In my dorm, we had common areas and a cafe that were good for working on group projects or in a more casual setting. There were also places in my dorm and on campus that were designated for silent study. The library at MSU is huge!
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?
Marci: East Lansing is mostly a college town, so it has a lot of restaurants and shops that are geared toward college students. I really enjoyed biking around town, or out into the surrounding area which is mostly farmland. I had a group of friends and campus staff who would bike to a local pizza place in Lansing every Friday. Lansing also had a fun event in the summer called “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town,” where you got entry to museums and cool places all over town for only $1.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Marci: MSU had about 40,000 undergraduates when I attended, and now has almost 50,000. Many of my class sizes were large lectures, which is the norm for science and math classes. But notable exceptions were small Honors classes, upper-level “history, philosophy, and sociology of science” classes through Lyman Briggs College, and small labs and recitation groups.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Marci: Several of my friends were in a program at MSU called, “Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy” (STEPPS) that they kept trying to get me to join. I finally decided to join since I had already taken most of the classes, and my senior year at MSU, I found the group of students and professors in STEPPS who really “got” what I wanted to do. Again, at the suggestion of my friends, I took my senior seminar class with Dr. Mark Largent, the director of STEPPS. Dr. Largent helped steer me toward the graduate program I now attend, and he has been a continued positive influence on my career.
Check out Marci’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.