What is it Like to Attend University of South Florida?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Ray earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from University of South Florida in 2014. He is currently a Tampa tutor specializing in German tutoring, Economics tutoring, and Statistics tutoring. Check out his review of University of South Florida:

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?

Ray: At University of South Florida, you will find a lot of commuters. As a result, there are several options for getting around campus. We have “Bull Runners,” or buses that run routes both on campus and into the neighboring areas around the university. If you own a bike, you will have no trouble getting around. Even if you do not have a bike, you can rent one from Campus Recreation! The overall feel of the campus is safe, but there are definitely some less-than-favorable areas not far from the borders of University of South Florida. However, it is easy to learn what places to avoid. I have personally never had any issues, even when walking around at night.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Ray: University of South Florida uses eScheduler, which makes it easy to plan time with advisers or with any other service offered at the school. The professors are usually excited to talk with you about their fields, personal research, or other courses—you just have to ask. The teaching assistants vary in their attitudes. Some are fulfilling requirements, and some are getting experience in the fields they are passionate about. Again, showing interest is a good way to receive the best help from faculty.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Ray: Living in the dorms at University of South Florida can provide one of many experiences. Personally, I stayed in Castor Hall, known as one of the smallest options available. Though many people complained about the lack of space, I found it to be a good excuse to socialize with the people in my building. Having a space just for sleeping and studying was a good way to see that there was a lot to do outside of my room. The dining options get similarly mixed reviews. Champion’s Choice, conveniently located right outside our gym, offers the healthiest options. Argos is open until late in the morning, and Andros is conveniently in the middle of campus. The food itself is pretty good, and there is something for everyone (even vegans).

There are many opportunities to socialize with other students, but like anything else, it is what you make of it. You could theoretically go to class, go to your room, and have a perfectly fulfilling college career, but the dorm life makes it incredibly easy to make friends, create experiences you will remember, and enhance the time you spend at the university.

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?

Ray: University of South Florida is pushing STEM majors. We have a strong Engineering major, but also a focus on the arts, international concentrations, and business. I majored in International Studies after taking several German classes, studying abroad, and finding my International Business courses overly generalized and irrelevant to what I found interesting in the world. The school did a great job with this field; the faculty and students are all very interested in the subject, and there are incredible opportunities for entering the international arena (job-wise) while you are at the university. We even have a National & Competitive Intelligence Program.

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?

Ray: Greek life at University of South Florida seems as equally influential as at the other universities I have visited. I personally did not participate, but I had no problem making friends, connecting with a variety of people, and enjoying the social aspect of my college career. As a freshman, all you need to do is walk around, ask someone to eat with you at the dining hall (there is always one nearby), or just strike up a conversation with someone while sitting and enjoying the scenery.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Ray: There are a slew of companies that regularly market on campus to students. In conjunction with the Career Center, we have an online job board for employers specifically interested in our student body. The Career Center will help you critique your resume, stage a mock interview, or simply coach you toward becoming more professional through one-on-one meetings or their many workshops. There is also an annual career fair for all majors, for Engineering majors, and also for part-time positions.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Ray: The school does an excellent job of providing a variety of areas to study in. For those who find the library too crowded, there is a very well equipped sky lounge in the Marshall Student Center. The dorms all offer common areas to gather in that make for a good way to get out of your room, without having to trek across campus.

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? 

Ray: Unfortunately, Tampa by nature is very spread out. The top locations for going out (Ybor City, SoHo, Channelside, Downtown) are all quite far (25 minutes by interstate) from campus. This also makes it incredibly difficult to go out/get around if you do not own a car. But if you do not have one, it is not hard to make a friend who does!

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Ray: There are over 40,000 students at University of South Florida, but many of them are commuters. For this reason, it can feel a bit hectic with all of the drivers. The class sizes vary tremendously—my German courses had no more than 20 students per class, whereas many common courses will be taught in a lecture hall of 300+ people. I found the variance nice, as it helps you appreciate the perks and drawbacks of the different class sizes.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Ray: As far as a memorable experience, it is much easier to remember things we found embarrassing. I did not give my first presentation to a large class until senior year. Public Speaking only prepared me to speak in front of a group of 20… standing in front of a class of closer to 100, I basically froze. I know it always feels worse to the person on the spot, but I can now really respect people who can naturally speak in front of large groups.

Check out Ray’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.