Everyone is competitive. The majors are highly competitive and hard to get into. However, many TAs, professors and instructors are there to help. There are many resources to take advantage of on campus. I think this University is geared towards education and making sure every student learns as much as possible. This is also a research institute and many classes are geared towards it. You will also be solicited to participate in research projects.
I love how classes are organized at the University of Washington. There is a mixture of large classes and small classes, and both offer unique learning experiences that effectively teach the subject. Many classes are big, sometimes up to three or four hundred students. These are taught as lectures, though many professors encourage participation and often know the names of many students. In addition, these large lectures frequently have a "quiz section" class that meets separately, with only fifteen to twenty students per section, to go over the material and offer extra learning opportunites.
Other classes, such as the English course, are generally smaller, with no more than forty students in a class. These are primarily discussion based, and the learning is done in groups and through talking about the ideas being taught. Both kinds of courses lend different qualities to the learning experience, and I find it easy to learn the material in both environments.
The students are generally quite engaged and offer thoughtful and interesting ideas in discussions. They are also helpful when it is time to study, and many people go over the course material in groups outside of class to improve each other's learning. Students put a lot of effort into the courses, but are also willing to help others understand concepts better.
Professors are also very nice and have office hours to help students, and they are generally more than happy to schedule an appointment if their standard times don't work for a student. Overall, the academics at the University of Washington are excellent, with a variety of classes, motivated and helpful students, and professors that want their students to do well.
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