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Questions for current students or anyone really

DETSAznDETSAzn 81 replies51 threads Junior Member
edited April 2006 in University of Pittsburgh
How does the grading policy work? What constitutes an A, a B, a C, etc., and do most professors curve? I took AP bio and chem (5,4) respectively, and plan on taking the MCAT at the end of sophomore year. Would you recommend taking those classes again? I could test out of chem with my SAT II scores b/c a 4 does not allow you to skip freshman chem class.

What are the freshman dorms like? When I visited, I only got a quick glimpse, but they looked really small. Are there cooking facilities?

I spoke to some current students on campus, and they said that the professors’ accents really aren’t that bad, and that it only took about a week to adjust and understand what they’re saying. But are classes usually taught by professors, or are they taught by grad students?

Do current students get football ticket discounts to the games?

Where would you recommend for freshman housing?

Since Pitt is a fairly large university, is it hard to get in touch w/ profs/the administration? For example, if I had a concern and needed to talk to someone who could help me fix it, would it take days/weeks for them to answer my call/email?

Thanks in advance for your help!
edited April 2006
3 replies
Post edited by DETSAzn on
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Replies to: Questions for current students or anyone really

  • ophioliteophiolite 1020 replies34 threads Member
    As a recent Pitt alum I get many messages from students looking into Pitt...here are some answers to your questions and more!

    Re: Community Life at Pitt:

    There is a strong sense of community on campus and those relationships typically continue once moving off campus (which most students do after either freshman or sophomore years). It is very easy to make friends if you put yourself out there and are outgoing your first few weeks of college. I made lots and lots of friends my first weeks at Pitt, most of whom I lost touch with a few months later. However, I made a good set of long-lasting friends after classes started and after I met people in my major. I can also claim I met my fiance on my first day of classes my freshman year! I really don't know anyone who had problems making friends...

    Re: Campus Activity Involvement

    There are a number of campus activities and students do take advantage of them when they can. The coolest thing that occurred while I was on campus was John Kerry speaking on Bigelow St. during the campaign. Bon Jovi opened up which was pretty cool. The only downer was they scheduled this for during finals and I had a final while Bon Jovi was performing (which I could hear from my classroom) and I thought it was inconsiderate planning such an event while students were in exams.

    Other popular activities are the football and basketball games. It is very easy to get football tickets and lots of students go to the games using the bus system Pitt sets up for transportation. Students buy student tickets by the season and they are quite affordable (don't know what the season pass costs now...). However, seats aren't in the best location in Heinz Stadium. The basketball tickets are much more difficult to come by, but the Oakland Zoo I hear was a great experience for many and worth it if you are lucky enough to get tickets.

    I also was involved in a few clubs for a year or two...it is a must to go to the activities fair when you get to school in the fall to meet people and get involved with clubs. My favorite was the Outdoors Club where I learned to rock-climb, got to backpack and other really fun activities on the weekends. This is the place I met the majority of my good friends freshman and sophomore years.

    Re: Campus Living for Freshman

    This is a topic very near and dear to my heart. My freshman year I was lucky to get into Sutherland without being an athlete. I really wanted to live there because of the excellent rooms and such, however, I ended up moving down to the Towers to be closer to friends and so I didn't have to rely on the bus system on the weekends to get back to my room. Though the towers have tiny rooms, but the social life is much better for freshman in my opinion. There are no kitchens in the towers or most of the dorms at Pitt. However, some of the suites may have limited facilities and the campus-supported apartments have full kitchens (space limited to juniors and seniors).

    More to come in next message!
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  • ophioliteophiolite 1020 replies34 threads Member
    Re: Study Abroad Programs

    Yes I did study abroad. It was for my geology field camp and was arranged through another university (Boston University). However, I found the process quite easy (except for a few quirks) and actually got scholarship for my study abroad from the Nationality Rooms. The Nationality Rooms give out scholarship for summer study abroad (mostly for research-based projects) that vary from ~$1000-5000. They are fairly competitive, but depending on the award can be pretty easy to get. Plus, you can apply to multiple Nationality Room scholarships with one application!

    The only problem I had with my study abroad program was getting the credits to transfer correctly. Since I had won the scholarship, I was required to sign up for study abroad credits rather than my field camp credits (a requirement for my major). I got credit for study abroad, but had to jump through a few hoops to get approval for that course as my field camp, but it isn't listed on my transcript as field camp. It really wasn't a problem per se, just a little annoying and confusing to understand at the time...

    Re: Party Life at Pitt

    Yeah, Pitt has parties and lots of people go to them. However, during my four years there, I only went to one party and that was my first week freshman year. It wasn't my thing, and with the size of Pitt it really didn't matter that it wasn't my thing. I had my group of friends and we had lots of stuff to do as a small group and did drink together sometimes in a non-party setting. When I lived off-campus I could hear lots of parties on the weekends from my apartment, but I got used to it pretty easily.

    Re: Accessibility of Professors and usage of Graduate Students

    The professors are usually very accessible, as long as you make the initiative to go to their office hours or schedule an appointment via email. I never had a problem scheduling appointments with professors when I needed them and they never stood me up or treated me poorly. TA's are primarily used for recitation sections and lab sections. The only classes they fully teach are the freshman comp classes (in my experience). And no, I had no problems understanding the TA's, I actually had more problems understanding professors! Some of the professors are foreign and are difficult to understand at times. However, most of those classes had recitations for me and the TA's were really good more times than not to clear up my problems.

    Re: General Likes and Dislikes about Pitt

    Likes: I really liked the city of Pittsburgh and what it had to offer. I liked having free access to museums, free bus access, and many internship opportunites available to me at all stages of my education. I loved my freshman year when I made most of my friends and created a sort of second family at school (not to mention meet my fiance). I also liked the club opportunites. Oh yeah, I also liked the computer labs and how they gave us way more printing pages than we could ever really use in a semester (practically no chance of running out!). I also really liked the academics there and enjoyed most of my classes a lot. It was also very easy to work with the cashiers and registrar's offices (something I cannot say of UNC!).

    Dislikes: I hated the meal plan at Pitt and the dining halls. The food just plain out sucked and while living on campus you need to have a meal plan purchased (I recommend the lower the better...you really don't end up using all of the larger ones). The food off-campus can be really amazing and it sucks that you can't use dining dollars at those establishments. I also didn't like that I didn't have a great research opportunity there (Note: this is only applicable in my particular field and my particular sub-specialty in my field).

    Hope this helps...let me know if you need any clarifications or have any other questions!
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  • ophioliteophiolite 1020 replies34 threads Member
    Forgot to add about grading policies...

    Grading at Pitt really varies between professors...they do operate on a +/- and Dean's List starts at a 3.5 (equivalent to just between a B+ and A- average). Most professors will curve to an extent, but it really depends on how well you do compared to the class average. If you are near the top of your class, don't worry you will be just fine. However, if you are near the bottom of your particular class there is need to worry about your grade for the class.

    I would retake any classes you are exempt from taking. High school classes in no way compare to college classes. Especially in the sciences where there are in depth lab sections in addition to the lecture component. You will definately need a very strong base in the basic sciences going into the medical field and it will also not only help you prepare for the MCAT but also boost your GPA (Pitt calls it your QPA) for med school admissions.
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