Website answers questions about on-campus life


From an informational blog to a website, three University students answer thousands of anonymous questions on topics ranging from New Brunswick student life to classes with a student-oriented perspective.

Rutgerstips.com is a website designed to help current and prospective University students with questions they may have about student life or navigating the system, said Yvgeniy Demo, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

Demo, along with School of Arts and Sciences students Stephanie Lanza and Aakil Fernandes, created the website over the summer to help students by sharing their experiences they went through at the University.

Demo said some students are unaware of what websites to consult for information and gave an example of a student who was unsure of what classes she needs for her degree and how to access Degree Navigator.

“Some of the tools, like Degree Navigator — she didn’t even hear about them, and she was taking random classes that were not for the major she wanted to go for,” he said.

Many of the answers on the website are based off the creators’ knowledge of the topic and their experiences at the University.

One question posted on the website on Nov. 25 asked, “Are we allowed to hang Christmas lights from the ceiling?” The answer below it said, “You can’t hang anything from the ceiling because it’s a fire hazard. Just hang it along your walls.”

Demo said he knew the answer because he spent his first year at the University living in a residence hall where a resident assistance told him these rules.

When the creators cannot answer the questions, they look for answers on University websites. Answers also come from other students’ voices.

“We have a lot of friends who will know the answer,” he said. “If there is a question about pharmacy, I will ask a friend who is a pharmacy major.”

Lanza, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, started Rutgerstips.com on blogging website Tumblr this past July and received many questions from incoming first-year students about student life.

Demo, who wanted to create a website with a similar concept, found Lanza’s blog and asked if she would move the site to its own domain name so people could ask questions anonymously. Lanza agreed and joined to write tips and help answer questions.

Demo then asked his co-worker Fernandes, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, to help him design and program the site.

Rutgerstips.com launched mid-August and experienced heavy traffic right before the start of the semester, Lanza said.

“I would sometimes get 25 to 30 questions a day. I still get a consistent amount of questions every day,” she said.

Demo said the website still receives an average of 10 questions a week. He has answered more than 1,000 questions since its inception.

Fernandes said prospective students who were accepted into the University ask the most questions.

“There [are] a lot of [first-year students], a good number of transfers and a lot of high school students who are applying to Rutgers,” he said.

Fernandes said the questions are varied and ask about nearly every subject.

“They range from academic [issues], to making friends, to how the buses work,” he said. “The more interesting questions ask about what parties are like and what football games are like and student life.”

Along with answering questions, Rutgerstips.com — as is implied in the name — offers 150 tips to students through blog posts, ranging from bus etiquette to starting a relationship with a floormate, Fernandes said.

Lanza said students ask questions on the website they are either too afraid to ask their advisers or that they are unable to find answers to online.

“I just feel like there are questions that students have, and they don’t know where to look for it,” she said. “It isn’t prevalent enough. It’s not mentioned as much as it should be.”

Lanza, the youngest member of the team, said she will continue the website after Fernandes and Demo graduate.

But Demo and Fernandes also plan to pass the reins of the website on to first-year students or sophomores.

“You don’t have to be a great programmer or anything to figure it out,” Demo said. “We could probably find somebody at Rutgers to keep it up. It would be sad to see it go.”

Although the website does not generate monetary profit, helping other students is enough compensation, Demo said.

“We do it just for the sake of getting the information out and helping other students,” she said. “I love the University and it’s a way to express my pride about the University."


By Tabish Talib

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