What are the academics like at your school?
Amherst has no academic requirements apart from a mandatory freshman seminar, which really gives students a lot of freedom to take the classes that they want, and also to experiment in different disciplines, without having to worry about scrambling to met requirements if they take a class that might not go toward a major. The idea of an open curriculum seemed overwhelming to me initially, but once it came time to register for classes the first time I really appreciated it.The majority of professors do know the names of their students, especially if you are in a smaller class. Sometimes, with the large lectures (intro classes usually) the professor won't know you , but usually there are some smaller group meetings of the class, usually in the form of discussion sections where the professor will get to know you. As a history major, I have found that all of my professors have known my name in my classes, and the majority of them have known some other things about me. It is easy to get in touch with professors for the most part, and because they for the most part are not dealing with hundreds of students, they are usually available to meet and talk with you. Class participation is very common, although by no means required. Because professors make an effort to get to know you, it is not as intimidating to speak in class as you might think. For the most part, because the professor knows everyone's name, it is easy for the other students to get to know each other as well. The education at Amherst is not pre-professional, but that does not prevent Amherst students from getting high end jobs right after graduation.