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AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
edited January 2014 in University of Pittsburgh
Hi everyone,

I'm a rising Senior at Pitt and recently got into CC again. I've noticed a lot of people ask questions about Pitt that can generally be answered quickly/the most thoroughly by a current student.

So, on that note, feel free to ask me anything! I'm not associated with any peer programs/tours/etc. so I'll be able to give my unbiased (mostly) opinion/answers to your questions. I can answer anything relating to classes, student life, housing, the general area, transportation, admission, financial aid, etc...

Some areas of "expertise" (where I would have above-average-student knowledge):

--Engineering
--Honor's College/Honor's Life/Honor's Housing/Honor's Classes
--Certain clubs: Redeye Theater Project, Quidditch Club Pittsburgh, Lambda Sigma Honor Society (for sophomores), Pitt Symphonic Band (with knowledge of Pitt Marching Band)
--Merit Scholarships (specifically through Honor's College and the School of Engineering)
--Out of State students/applicants
Post edited by AwesomeOpossum on
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Replies to: Pitt FAQs

  • rmac399rmac399 Registered User Posts: 410 Member
    Thanks for being on. My freshman S signed up for three UHC classes - just wondering if doing well (mostly A's) in AP versions of those classes in HS are adequate preparation for UHC versions. Also, do you know anyone who took intro to Arabic and how difficult that class was?
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @rmac399

    It really depends on the classes, do you mind telling me which three he plans on taking? My freshman year I took Honors Chem, Physics and Engineering. I had taken AP Chem in HS (but got a 4 and decided I wanted to learn it better in college) and Honors Chem and Programming in HS.

    I ended up doing really well in Physics and Engineering (A's in both, plus the professors were amazing) and not so much in Chem (B+ both semesters, but I think it was partially to do with the fact that the actual professor ended up being sick and stopped teaching the class 3 weeks in, so we had a different teacher take over who was not used to the curriculum AT ALL).

    Overall, I'd say having the AP background is *helpful* but not indicative of how you will do. If Honors Chem is anything like it was when I started, a LOT of material is stuff the AP doesn't even cover, which is great! It meant I got to go really in depth on an important core class for my major, which was cool.

    The most important thing with signing up for three honors classes is making sure you keep up with course work and attending lecture/recitation. Honors Chem involved lengthy 4-hour labs in the spring semester with additional 10+ page lab reports to do every week. The regular Chem classes had short labs and worksheets in class--no formal lab reports. If your S is confident at being able to balance the work load (which, having taken the AP classes, he probably will be) then he shouldn't have issues with the class.

    I think a friend of mine took Intro to Arabic. I will ask him his thoughts on that and get back to you!
  • MDdad2012MDdad2012 Registered User Posts: 456 Member
    What percentage of math and science classes are taught by TA's?

    How safe is the campus and surrounding area?

    Will out-of-state people feel welcome?

    Thanks!
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @MDdad2012

    I took 3 math classes (Calc 3, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations) and 4 Science classes (Chem 1/2, Physics 1/2). The only class not taught by a professor was Calc 3, which was instead taught by a 3rd year graduate student. I ended up really REALLY enjoying the class, because she was incredibly personable, taught the material well, and was super aproachable for help.

    For lower level math and science courses (up to 2nd year chem I believe) the labs and recitations will probably be "taught" (more like, run) by a TA. The big difference between class and lab/recitation is size and time. Class is a big(ger) lecture taught by the professor for 3 hours a week (this can be in one 3 hour session, two 1 hr 30 min sessions, or three 1 hr sessions). This is where they teach new material and go over book topics.

    Recitation/Lab are smaller classes, generally 20 students or less, and led by a TA once a week (sometimes twice) for an hour. In here you go over homework, sometimes take quizzes, rehash confusing lecture material, etc. The TAs are hired/picked by the professors to help teach those classes and work closely with the professor to make sure the material is being taught accurately/correctly/etc.

    So, to answer your question, 0% of *classes* are taught by TAs. But a large portion of the recitations/labs are.

    Campus/Surrounding area: Oakland (main campus) is incredibly safe. I've been out walking alone at all hours of day/night (i.e. midnight, 1am, 5am, etc.) and never felt uncomfortable. Most surrounding neighborhoods (i.e. Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, North Oakland, South Oakland) are also pretty safe. South Oakland is sometimes a *bit* sketchy, just because the cheapest housing is there and often times you can see patches of drunk/belligerent people. But overall, I've never had a problem with the area. There are also safety lights/poles all over campus and if you ever feel uneasy you can push one and a police officer will arrive to where you are. If you're ever stranded/feel unsafe, you can also call a Pitt safety shuttle called "SafeRider" to come pick you up and take you to your destination.

    Out of State people will definitely feel welcome! I'm from Northern Virginia and had only been to Pittsburgh twice before I moved in. Oakland/Pitt is SUCH a friendly area that I had no times adjusting/meeting new people/feeling comfortable. Even now, I joke with my friends that I'm amazed at how large a school Pitt is (>17,000 undergrads) because I never feel like a fish-in-sea. In fact, I'm almost always guaranteed to see someone I know when I go out walking to class/whereever.
  • bandgeek2012bandgeek2012 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Hi AwesomeOppossum,

    I am currently a Pitt undergrad and I'm considering joining the band, what instrument do you play? (I'm just curious about the different sections haha)

    Thanks!
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @bandgeek2012

    Do you mean the Symphonic or the Marching Band? I'm not in Marching Band (but this year's Drum Major is a good friend of mine whom I've known since we were both freshman and many other friends are in other sections). In Symphonic Band I play the bassoon (not fantastically well, though, since I only started learning 2 years ago).
  • ppatel05ppatel05 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    When will we be given information on our housing assignment?

    Also, what is your favorite dorm and/or apt building(s)?
  • MDdad2012MDdad2012 Registered User Posts: 456 Member
    Is there an orchestra for non-music majors?
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @ppatel05

    If you applied for Honor's Housing, apparently you will hear mid-June. Otherwise, I think most people found out by mid-July where they were living. (That's my guesstimate, you can always contact Panther Central at: Panther Central and ask!)

    I lived in Honor's Housing freshman year, which was in Forbes Hall. I loved it. The rooms were (mostly) big and the layout was great. Plus it was small enough that I got to know everyone by the end of the year.

    Soph/Junior year I lived in the upper classmen Honor's Housing, which was the Forbes-Craig Apartments. Loved that even more (and I wish I could still be there senior year!). A lot of my friends lived in Ruskin Sophomore/Junior year. It's a really nice apartment building near the Cathedral (read: across the street) that was recently renovated in 2009 so it's practically brand new. The only thing is most of the apartments (1, 2, 3 person) are kind of small in my opinion.

    A lot of other friends lived in Bouquet junior year and loved it (4-person apartments). Those were bigger and just as nice, just a little further away from most of the buildings. I've seen Panther/PA halls on upper campus (for sophomore and juniors) and those buildings are AMAZINGLY nice (since they're the newest dorms) but I don't know what the rooms look like. I was never really partial to Towers/the Quad but I know people who lived there and enjoyed it (as well as Sutherland on upper campus, which is now Honor's/Athletic housing). Lothrop is kind of out of the way and mostly singles, I honestly don't know many people who liked it, EXCEPT for nursing students.

    Hope that helps!
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @MDdad2012

    There is an orchestra for non-music majors (since the only orchestra we have is basically open to anyone, to my knowledge). My roommate (an engineer, not a music major) was in it for one year, and I have another friend whom I believe was in it for all 3 years (music minor I believe) we've been at Pitt so far. I'm not sure of the specifics, but I believe you can contact the Conductor to arrange an audition time because I *believe* they practice starting in the fall (unlike Symphonic Band which is only in the spring).

    Here is contact information about the Orchestra: Symphony Orchestra | Department of Music | University of Pittsburgh
  • MD MomMD Mom Registered User Posts: 6,728 Senior Member
    I ended up doing really well in Physics and Engineering (A's in both, plus the professors were amazing) and not so much in Chem (B+ both semesters, but I think it was partially to do with the fact that the actual professor ended up being sick and stopped teaching the class 3 weeks in, so we had a different teacher take over who was not used to the curriculum AT ALL).

    AwesomeOpossom--aren't the professors you had for both honors chem and honors physics gone?
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @MD Mom

    Exactly. Well, the Chem professor left the beginning of my year (he taught for 3 weeks) and we had a "substitute" professor in the fall and I think my professor in the spring still teaches the course (to my knowledge...).

    I've heard that the Honor's Physics Professor is okay. I know of people who have taken the class in more recent years. I believe the course material is the same, although the exam/exam structure/hw may be different.
  • mommapaloozamommapalooza Registered User Posts: 34 Junior Member
    My freshman year I took Honors Chem, Physics and Engineering.

    AwesomeOpossum: can you clarify re: the freshman engineering course where you opted for Honors -was it Engineering Analysis (ENGR 0011 vs Honors ENGR0711) or Engineering Computing (ENGR0012 vs Honors ENGR0712) or both? I also thought there was an Honors section of Freshman Egineering Seminar (ENGR0082) but I don't see it listed so maybe not.
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @Mommapalooza

    I took both Honors Engineering, so ENGR0711 in the fall, where we did all the programming courses (that is we completed the equivalent of ENGR0011 and ENGR0012 in one semester). In the spring I again took Honors Engineering, ENGR0715 which kind of a group project/volunteer project type thing. In 0715 (which most 0711 students took) we were assigned into groups of 4 and given a real-world engineering project from a client to solve.

    Some kids (about 10-12) take ENGR 0712 in the spring instead. This is a continuation of ENGR0711 in the sense that they continued with doing strict programming languages instead of the real-world applications of ENGR0715. Generally only kids with very high grades (A students) of ENGR0715 were invited to take ENGR0712 in the spring. I could have taken 0712, but liked the idea of 0715 better, personally.

    There should be an Honors Section of Freshman Engineering, but it may be through the UHC site instead of the Pitt Engineering site...

    Here is a link to contact Mike in the Honor's College about it (NB the link is to the old Pitt Engineering site, which is still functioning, but is not the "main" Pitt Engineering site any more) Engr0081/Engr0181
  • AwesomeOpossumAwesomeOpossum Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    @mommapalooza

    I took both Honors Engineering, so ENGR0711 in the fall, where we did all the programming courses (that is we completed the equivalent of ENGR0011 and ENGR0012 in one semester). In the spring I again took Honors Engineering, ENGR0715 which kind of a group project/volunteer project type thing. In 0715 (which most 0711 students took) we were assigned into groups of 4 and given a real-world engineering project from a client to solve.

    Some kids (about 10-12) take ENGR 0712 in the spring instead. This is a continuation of ENGR0711 in the sense that they continued with doing strict programming languages instead of the real-world applications of ENGR0715. Generally only kids with very high grades (A students) of ENGR0715 were invited to take ENGR0712 in the spring. I could have taken 0712, but liked the idea of 0715 better, personally.

    In terms of seminar, I took regular seminar (since the seminar is actually a 0-credit class). It was a nice way to relax once-a-week (I played UNO in mine) as well as get some good first-year advice from an older engineering student.

    There should be an Honors Section of Freshman Engineering, but it may be through the UHC site instead of the Pitt Engineering site...

    Here is a link to contact Mike in the Honor's College about it (NB the link is to the old Pitt Engineering site, which is still functioning, but is not the "main" Pitt Engineering site any more) Engr0081/Engr0181
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