What are the academics like at your school?
Classes here are challenging. The workload is substantial for many (but certainly not all) courses. Professors push their students and try to get students to do their best work, but they almost always ask for work that is within reason. Professors here really want to get to know students. I've had professors learn the names of every student before the first day of class (even for a lecture with one hundred and twenty students), take me out to breakfast, take me out for dinner, and I've even been to the President of the College's house.
Students are not competitive. I always see people studying together in groups at the library, at the coffee shop, and in various study areas around campus. There isn't always as much intellectual discussion as I would like, but I find as I get into smaller and smaller classes, that intellectual discussion happens more frequently, easily, and often spills out of the classroom.