The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Erica received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and STEM and her master’s degree in Urban Education at The College of New Jersey. She is currently a tutor in New York City specializing in elementary math, elementary science, and ISEE and SSAT test prep, among other subjects. See what she had to say about her experience at The College of New Jersey:
VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or rural is the campus? Did you feel safe on campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?
Erica: Part of the reason I chose to go to The College of New Jersey was because of its smaller, closed campus. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from one side of campus to the other, so while some students do use bikes, it is largely a walking campus. For students who live off campus in the residential houses of Ewing, NJ, cars may be necessary. Most people do not move off campus until their junior or senior years, though.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Erica: Because of the small campus community, most classes have between 15-25 students, which makes it far easier for professors to be available after class and for office hours. All professors and advisers are also incredibly willing to meet with students about anything at all. A great part of The College of New Jersey is that students are not eligible to register for classes until they have met with their academic adviser, so it is a requirement for both the student and the adviser to meet at least once per semester.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Erica: All students are guaranteed housing for their freshman and sophomore years at The College of New Jersey, which takes off a lot of pressure. Most freshmen are placed in what are known as “The Towers.” The first week before school starts, The College of New Jersey has a “welcome week” where students spend all of their time getting to know the people on their floors and building camaraderie through different silly games, activities, and floor meetings. This is incredibly helpful in breaking the ice, and makes everyone much more comfortable with one another throughout the year. In terms of dining, the main dining hall, Eickhoff, has a ton of options. There is also the Library Café, Education Café, and multiple options for salads, sandwiches, and sushi in the Student Center.
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?
Erica: The College of New Jersey is known for its education department, but other majors are definitely getting to be better represented on campus. In addition to the education programs, The College of New Jersey has wonderful programs in business, engineering, biology, and various other areas of study.
I personally got my Master of Arts in Teaching in urban education and my bachelor’s degree in elementary education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The College of New Jersey did a great job in supporting me in both my undergraduate and graduate careers. STEM is a growing field at The College of New Jersey, as well. There is even a whole STEM building in the process of being built!
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?
Erica: As I mentioned before, welcome week works wonders for meeting people. Clearly it can be strange and awkward moving onto a floor with 50 other people, but The College of New Jersey clears the air immediately by providing tons of group activities both with your floor and with your building as a whole. There is a lot of floor and tower pride by the end of the year, even by the end of welcome week! While Greek life does have a strong presence on campus, it is definitely not necessary to become part of it. There are countless club sports (which I was a part of), educational groups, and various other groups (Manhunt club, Circus club, Quidditch team). There is certainly a place for everyone on The College of New Jersey’s campus!
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Erica: The Career Center and the Tutoring Center are both extremely helpful. The Tutoring Center employs students to tutor other students who are struggling in certain aspects of their courses. There are tutors for children’s literature courses all the way to advanced calculus, biology, and languages. The advisers at the Career Center are always ready and willing to help give students a direction or just to hear out their ideas about the future.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Erica: The College of New Jersey’s library has won awards! It is four stories high with an auditorium and media center in the basement. There are many different sections based on your studying needs and habits. The café is on the first floor, where you can grab a coffee or sandwich and discuss projects with friends as though you are at a Starbucks. There are also loads of computers available to use and print from. There are many quiet study rooms for small groups and individual work stations. The library tends to get quieter as you go up, so by the time you reach the fourth floor, you could hear a pin drop!
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?
Erica: The College of New Jersey is located in Ewing, NJ, which is a residential town. Because of this, there is not quite the lively “downtown” area that many campuses have, but The College of New Jersey is addressing this! A brand new “Campus Town” is under construction and will be ready for the 2015-2016 school year. Campus Town, which is placed directly on the outskirts of campus, is going to include a Barnes & Noble, Panera, a pizzeria, a sushi restaurant, a pub, and tons of living space! Outside of Campus Town, there are a ton of establishments that students have found, such as Piccolo’s Pizzeria, which is a five-minute drive from campus; a bowling alley a few blocks away; and a discoteca/restaurant that is a 10-minute drive from campus!
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Erica: With a student body of less than 8,000 students, it is understandable that class sizes never reached more than 35-40 students at the most. Classes are really only that large during freshman year courses. After this, most classes have between 15-25 students, and many have even less than that. I loved that the class sizes were so small. It makes it much easier to build a relationship with professors, ask questions, and get to know your classmates.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Erica: I participated in the Philadelphia Urban Seminar, which was a two-week Maymester class at the end of the Spring semester. Twelve other The College of New Jersey students and I moved into the dorms at LaSalle University, in addition to students from 10 other schools in Pennsylvania, Norway, and Finland. We spent two weeks in a classroom, helping students, assisting the cooperating teacher, and even teaching lessons. After school we would spend time debriefing on our day, and by the end of the trip my group had become like a family. It was a wonderful experience with one of my favorite professors that I have met at The College of New Jersey.
Check out Erica’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.