Continuing with the third in our College Types Interview Series, in this post we’ll hear from a student who graduated from a private research university.

When students are creating their college lists for applications, one of the criteria we ask them to consider is the type of school that appeals to them. To provide more context, we’ve asked several of our tutors and consultants to share their own experiences at five different types of colleges.

Research universities are typically fairly large schools located in or near major cities and urban areas. They may offer students the chance to participate in ongoing research themselves, career opportunities after graduation, and access to highly credentialed professors with direct experience in their fields of study. This also means that professors have mandates to regularly publish their work, which means their responsibilities are split between research and teaching.

Keep in mind that the mention of any specific school in this series is not an endorsement by Signet.

Name: Varant C.

School Attended for Undergrad: Boston University

Year of Graduation: 2014

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Thinking back to when you were applying to colleges....How did you hear about your school?

I wanted to stay local for college and I had heard about Boston University having a strong engineering program through my high school teachers.

Did you take a college visit to your school?

Yes. After visiting BU for a math field trip senior year of high school, I was very interested in attending the school and even went an engineering open house. The open house attracted my attention even more and ultimately helped me decide that I would be very happy to study mechanical engineering at BU.

What appealed to you about your school?

The facts that BU was close to home, close to where my brothers attended college at the same time (MIT and Northeastern University), and close to the city were what appealed to me outside of the engineering program. I was able to visit home with ease and also spend time in the city after taking the T for a few stops.

Once you were accepted, how did you decide to attend your school?

The close proximity to home and the city helped me decide from a social aspect, and the engineering open house helped me ultimately feel confident that I was making the best choice for my future.

Thinking back to your college experience...What did you like about your school academically?

My professors almost always made it very easy for me to enjoy taking a course, no matter how difficult it was. They would provide real-life applications of the concepts we covered, which helped me both be intrigued by what I learned and understand the topics covered as best as possible.

What did you like about your school socially or from an extracurricular perspective?

While at BU, I was a part of the Armenian Students' Association and played on an intramural soccer team. These activities helped me get my mind off work at times and served as a productive mental break. Having the city of Boston just a few T stops away from campus also was nice, as I could easily visit with friends or family.

Was there anything you didn't like or would have done differently?

There isn't anything I would have done differently if I had the opportunity to repeat my experience at BU. I will note that I had to be a self-starter at such a big school, as the advisers weren’t really there to hold your hand. Some kids found the social scene overwhelming, but that wasn’t a struggle for me.

How well did your school prepare you for what you went on to do after graduation?

BU did a great job preparing me for my post-graduation experiences. As an engineer, I'm able to apply the knowledge I learned at BU, as well as the skills and techniques I acquired as an engineer. As a tutor, I'm able to tutor using similar methods to my college professors: providing real-life applications to ensure my students have a strong grasp of even the most difficult topics and to help them enjoy the course content.

Want to learn more about the college process? Check out Signet's Guide to College Admissions.