The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Gavin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from University of Hawaii at Manoa. He graduated in 2012 and currently tutors in Los Angeles, specializing in several subjects including GRE prep tutoring, Algebra tutoring, and Physics tutoring. See what he had to say about his time at school in Hawaii:
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?
Gavin: The UH Manoa campus lies in the Manoa Valley, only a few miles from Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head and is just on the outer edge of Honolulu. With the newly instated bus pass, tuition students get a free bus pass included. For those farther away, cars are recommended for faster transportation options. Living on campus, there are bike racks scattered all over campus and if you live a few miles from campus, bikes might be the best option for time purposes.
VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Gavin: My favorite part of the college experience was my academic adviser. Without her I would have been lost. When it comes to professors, there are amazing ones and not so amazing ones and I had the fortune (and misfortune) of having both. TA's for the better part were helpful and sometimes even better than the professor counterpart. I felt more comfortable talking to TA's than teachers.
VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?
Gavin: There are dozens upon dozens of club at UH, and if you can think of something they will most likely have it. There are 4 towers for freshman dorming, a newly furnished and air-conditioned dorm, 2 apartment towers, a suite-like tower building for upperclassmen, and 2 other dorms that house freshmen as well as upperclassmen. Each dorm usually has activities and the RA's come up with events usually once a week to help those who aren't sure what to do and to make new friends that also live in their dorms. There are two housing dining options that are just steps away from the dorms that serve buffet-style. Also, there is a little market by the dorms for those who don't want to go out to Walmart to pick stuff up and serve meals as well. On campus, there is a huge food court that serves many different types of food: sandwiches, burgers, Asian, and local cuisines. There is a Subway, Jamba Juice, Starbucks, and Panda Express on campus as well, the latter two being recently built.
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?
Gavin: UH Manoa is known for being top in the nation for Marine Biology, International Business, and Earth Sciences. My major was Meteorology, as my passion since I was young was weather. The School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology is one of the most funded schools on campus from outside sources.
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?
Gavin: It was easier than I thought it would be to make new friends. The dorm events, courses, and clubs are how I met my friends during my time at UH. Greek life doesn't play the biggest role, but they still have a few fraternities and sororities to choose from if you are interested.
VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus?
Gavin: The Career Center is pretty helpful and can help you if you have any questions. During campus events (like a career fair), there are plenty of opportunities to choose from to help get insights on a career you might want.
VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?
Gavin: There are two libraries on campus and each has its own pluses to them, such as one can rent videos and one has air conditioning. For the most part, they are pretty spacious and you can usually find a space with ease, except during midterms and finals when it becomes more difficult. Dorm lounges vary randomly from being overly crowded to no one there and it depends on the time of year and day.
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?
Gavin: The campus is so close to pretty much anything you want. Walking distance includes a variety of restaurants such as curry or Thai food. Malls, beaches, and hiking trails are also only a short bus ride or longer walk away. Going downtown, Kailua, and other parts of the island are also a bus ride away and going to the infamous North Shore is about a 2 hour bus ride (45 minute drive). No matter the type of person you are, there is something for everyone that is not so far away. Most people stay near campus during the week and tend to go farther out when it’s the weekend.
VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Gavin: The overall student body has more than 20,000 students for a given semester and class sizes can vary widely. For example, my Intro to Chemistry class had almost 300 people, while my Meteorology Dynamics 2 course only had 5 students. But overall, I was generally happy about these numbers due to hearing friends with even more students in their classes at different schools.
VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Gavin: The most memorable moment for me with a teacher was with my Linear Algebra teacher. He was the best math teacher I had in the longest time. He was funny, smart, understanding, and anything you would want in a professor. He always had a smile on his face and even offered me recommendation letters to graduate schools that I applied for; I credit him for getting into the school I am in now.
Check out Gavin’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.