The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Dan received his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Oregon State University. He is currently a tutor in Tucson specializing in Algebra tutoring, Pre-Calculus tutoring, Statistics tutoring, and several other subjects. See what he had to say about his experience at Oregon State University:
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?
Dan: When I attended Oregon State University, it was a campus of fewer than 15,000 students in a very picturesque setting. You were safe on the campus and could go about without too much concern. The main way to get around was by bike. There were bike locks everywhere that attached each bike to a tree, parking meter, fence, lamp post, or bike stand. No one dared to lock a bike to a fire hydrant. If you did not lock your bike up properly, you could return to find a bike frame without tires or tires without a bike frame. I had a very inexpensive bike that I knew no one would want, so it was never stolen. I even left it at the student bookstore over winter break and later found it untouched. It was a three-speed bike, and, no, I did not have a bell on it.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Dan: This varied based on the professor, teaching assistant, and class size. With the very large classes of 200 students or more, there was always an aid who was available several evenings a week to help with the material. I frequently attended these sessions. Some professors were great about offering certain times of the day when they would be available. Others were downright grumpy, and getting their help was a waste of time. You could get more out of the material by sleeping with the textbook under your pillow. The other method that many professors used was to post solutions to the chapter questions that were not part of the homework. I used this all the time.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Dan: Dorm life was as varied as the professors. Some dorms were known as the wilder dorms, and serious students knew to avoid these. Some dorms housed a mixture of students.
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?
Dan: Oregon State University had a very good science college. They were also known for their Agriculture major. I studied Electrical Engineering, which seemed to be a good fit for my desires and talents. At the start of my freshman year, the Engineering department got all the freshman Engineering majors into an auditorium just before classes started, and they told us to look at the person to our left, and then to our right. They told us that two out of three of us would drop out of the Engineering major before senior year. Great encouragement that was (or not)!
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?
Dan: I started out in a dorm and met many students. We would often knock on each other’s doors to ask questions about the material we were studying. All the Engineering majors I encountered were friendly and helpful.
Greek life in most sororities and fraternities was the campus social standard.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Dan: The Career Center was very helpful in guiding students toward companies. They also helped us get organized.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Dan: Somewhere was always conducive to studying. However, a common favorite was the student union, which had a late-night cafeteria. This was a great place to pick up a cup of coffee, dessert, or whatever else you needed. This area was never large enough to meet student demand.
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?
Dan: Corvallis, Oregon was a very small town, and it did not offer much for students, unlike the big city of Portland. However, beach access was within easy driving distance, and this was a great escape. You could also slip out and find a late-night sandwich shop for another reprieve.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Dan: The student body was just under 15,000. To me, this size was just fine – not too big and not too small. Of course, as a freshman, class sizes were frightening and overwhelming. In the 200-, 300-, and 400-level classes, the size went down to where you could be on a first-name basis with the professor. He or she would even involve you with outside corporate projects. This was very cool and eye-opening.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Dan: This would be my Calculus I class. I was not one of the fortunate students who took this in high school, so I was a bit behind and frightened. I was a “learn through experience” type of person. It was difficult for me to grasp the concept just from a book and blackboard. If I could get a glimpse of the subject and how it was applied, I could do very well. Most teachers that I encountered never taught this way. For this class, I had a teaching aid who told us that we would not need the textbook. We could put it on the shelf or sell it back to the bookstore. He instead gave us a book about the practical application of the material. Thanks to his teaching, I got the subject. This helped me throughout my years in college, as I learned how to see the subject matter’s application in the outside world. I studied the Calculus textbook right alongside his teaching, and I took away lifelong understanding and a great foundation for the future.
Check out Dan’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.