Davidson College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Shamael

tough

Brian

Davidson College is consistently ranked as one of the hardest colleges in the nation. That is not because teachers deflate grades or because tests are impossible. It is because teachers and students care more about the content of the course then about the grade. For students at Davidson, learning the material is far superior to getting an A. As a result, teachers will often assign work and ask questions on tests related to the conceptual understanding of a particular subject rather than a regurgitation of the facts. Add that to the fact that almost every student at Davidson was in the top 10% of his or her high school and you can clearly see why Davidson is one of the hardest, but also prestigious, colleges in the nation. Teachers want you to do well and getting straight A's can be done but, no matter what your goal is, you have to work for it. No one is going to give you a B or even a C for that matter just for showing up. Davidson also is consistently ranked either #1 or #2 for having the best liberal arts faculty in the nation. Seriously, the teachers are incredibly smart, caring, friendly, and engaging. I have yet to sit in a boring class. Class sizes are very small, ranging from 15-30.

Denton

a

Taylor

Academics are hard. They take work. You can get by without doing a ton of work, but chances are that you won't do amazing. Typically, A's really do reflect excellent work that has had some time put into it. To put it another way, in high school, I would usually be shocked if I didn't get an A on something. At Davidson, I, and pretty much everyone else, is pretty excited to get a solid A on a major assignment. Some people are absolutely workaholics, but there are certainly people who put in near minimal effort (e.g. skip a lot of reading, quickly do small papers etc the night before) and manage to make it through. If a class is not purely lecture (most classes aren't; a lot of classes are entirely structured around discussion), then participation is pretty common. Typically there will be between one and five students (of about 20-33) who talk a lot, and probably half of any given class contributes to discussion somewhat regularly. In my experience, students do not see themselves as competing with each other; the horror stories of students giving each other false info at study sessions and always trying to get a leg-up on others (which was typically associated with Ivy-league schools) does not hold true here. People are always willing to help you, whether it's sharing notes, explaining a concept, whatever. Generally, professors are absolutely wonderful about being accessible and helpful to students. Most professors I've had have been willing to make all kinds of accommodations to ensure that you get help if you need it.

Joe

I am an econ major and love it. You have to be a devoted student to make it at Davidson. Professors want to help, and can due to the small size and their focus on teaching instead of research (as opposed to what you will see at bigger schools), but you have to want to succeed and put forth a hell of an effort. I gaurentee you will work harder than you ever have, but you will come out having learned more than any of your peers at other institutions.

Kristin

Professors are really accessable, and they know the names of their students. Students study a lot, but they still take time out to have some fun. Davidson's liberal arts curriculum and academic requirements enable students to explore many different areas. By having academic requirements, students might discover something that they want to major in that they were not originally considering.

Jamie

Hope you like to study! As long as you can be passionate about something, and work hard to find that passion, then you'll be alright at Davidson. Expect to stay up late in the library doing research or problem sets, but expect to be proud of yourself for doing it. Academics are at the forefront of Davidson's culture, and people know that when they apply here. The classes are fun, interesting, challenging, and small. All my professors know who I am, and they're ALWAYS willing to help out.

Cara

I am kind of shy about communicating with professors, so I often feel as though there are connections I should be making but am not. I know there are students here who are on a first name basis with certain professors. Most professors are nearly begging students to come see them during office hours; they want to be very accessible. Professors always learn the names of all students in their classes. Most students are fairly consistent at studying, but people do sometimes pull all nighters. Class participation is common. Professors try to get everybody talking. The education is geared toward whatever the student wants. If a student wants to get a certain job, someone can help them. Davidson is also a great place for learning for its own sake. Students here try hard, but one does not get the impression they are actually competing.

Andy

Hard - terrible grade deflation compared to Dartmouth, Harvard, Colombia, etc. Sometimes feels like more work than everyone else, but it has taught me the basics and I am prepared for the working world. The Honor Code is amazing - we take our finals when we want - but it also inhibits some collaboration because students are so true to it they fear breaking it, and this is a terrible side effect of a great community value. Most departments are very strong, but you can go through Davidson without accessing it's resources/teachers/etc. APPLY FOR GRANT MONEY - the Dean Rusk Program is unbelievable about supporting just about any type of travel as long as you can justify that you are learning from it, and do so in writing or film or some form of communication. Students don't compete with each other in a cut-throat manner, and you are always encouraged to do well because everyone around you is doing well and working hard so they can have fun on the weekends. Intellectual conversations exist outside of class but so do silly ones =) General academic requirements are pretty easy to complete, but take your AP tests so you can go abroad because Davidson feels almost all abroad classes are too easy to count for credit unless you're on an official Davidson program. Education is definitely geared for learning for its own sake - it's liberal arts after all - my best class has been the one I can apply to the real world, one on city planning and politics, but most others are much more abstract than specific, and that should be improved some.

Alex

Professors do know my name, rigorous, honor code dominates how students study, which is fantastically moral.

natasha

Academics are hard. The professors expect a lot of work outside of the class that allows you to be prepared for class the next day. Not all classes are equally difficult - Organic and Theater 101 are obviously on different levels. Even if you fall behind in a class, which is usually inevitable, you will work your ass off to study for the test. Even so, you might get a B. Even though the classes are really hard, most of them are enjoyable because the professors know what they're talking about. You can tell they want you to work hard because they worked hard and really love what they're trying to teach you. They are also always willing to help you out, whether it's on a test that you did poorly on or a paper that isn't due for another week and you want some early advice. The professors expect a lot but never fail to be fair.

Blake

Come to Davidson expecting to do a lot of work. You worked very hard in high school to get here, and unlike certain rumors about Ivy League or similar Davidson caliber schools, the work only gets more intense and rigorous. Education here is definitely geared more towards learning rather than getting a job, and academics are considered a first priority for all students here regardless of any other commitments. That said, I saw nowhere else where faculty were so incredibly passionate about what they do, and the incredible amount of respect they hold for the students. That was what made me want to come here.

Bryan

Every professor knows my name and is very willing to talk to you. Their first priority is teaching and then research, which would be done with an undergrad. Class participation is common. I have been invited to my teachers house before and I have actually been to my advisor's house. The education you get here covers all subjects and will really prepare you for anything after college. I remember when my Economics teacher gave us his cell phone number so that we could call him if we had questions.

David

The academics at Davidson are my favorite aspect of the school. My professors have almost always learned my name by the end of the first day of class. The largest class I have ever had was 30. My freshman year I had a class of 6. The professors care an immense amount about all their students and will do anything to help, even meeting you for dinner on Sunday night to go over your work. I have found that due to these intimate relationships with my professors, I have been able to learn way more than I could in any other environment.

Sam

Class size is always small, professors are always at least decent. Those are absolute rules. There are definitely some professors to avoid, but for the most part, they're all good, and some of them are amazing. Students tend to be extremely intellectual in and outside of class, and some of them are very competitive (those most aren't).

Tom

No doubt about it, academics at Davidson are rigorous. However, I find that it is definitely a manageable amount of work. At Davidson, the academic experience is what each student makes of it. The professors are very knowledgeable and willing to help. However, you can get to know the professors very well and be a frequent visitor during office hours, or you can remain relatively anonymous. It's up to you. However, each of the professors knows all of his or her students by name, as none of the classes are above 40 students.

Charlie

Professors and students have close relationships, we are not numbers. In fact, the average class size is around 15. Almost everyone participates in class discussions -All comments are intellectual and thought-provoking. There are so many different course structures here; however, I think my favorites were my 4 course Humanities track. We started with the first known literary work, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and moved on into present day, reading literature, philosophy, and religious & political documents, looking at paintings and sculptures, listening to music. Classes conisisted of about 12 - 15 students and we just talked about what we read/saw/heard. No pop quizzes. No lectures. Just discussion. We would meet even if the professor couldn't make it.

Marie

Academics at Davidson are pretty rigorous, but I feel students are generally good about finding a balance between work and play. Classes are small, and professors always know your name. Class participation is almost always encouraged, and the small class sizes provide excellent opportunities for discussion. The truth is that everyone here is intelligent and it is not uncommon to hear students having intellectual conversations outside of class, but on the other hand you hear a lot of stupid conversations too. The core requirements are pretty demanding, but nothing you can't knock about by the end of sophomore year if you come in with an AP credit or two under your belt. Recently there has been talk around Davidson about the problem of grade deflation. There is a joke around campus that says the department with the lowest GPA gets taken out to dinner. Personally I have had great experiences with classes. Professors have always been open to talking and meeting with you, and they often make an effort to get to know you outside of the classroom. From what I hear Premed is pretty intense, but it gets you ready for Med school.

Ben

Davidson is an incredible academic school. You will rarely have a class over 30 students or so, and personally in my Freshman year alone I've had 4 with about 10 or less. Professors almost always know you personally and it isn't rare to get invited to a professors house for dinner, not to mention get any extra help on work that you need. Students here study a lot because honestly classes are not easy. You will not skate by like you did in high school but you will become a much better person for it. Everyone here were people who were at the top of there class and you will take part in intellectual conversations. But don't worry there are plenty of stupid ones as well. I, like many other students, often feel that there is way too much work here and that the academic requirements are too hard but you learn more because of it and start to realize, unlike highschool, GPA does not matter! 3 B's and a C is a great report card! That prestigious degree is your goal here! You will not just work towards one job here, you will truely learn and have the ability to take part in a WIDE range of jobs. It is not uncommon to here of students coming straight out of college here with paychecks in the 6 figures on top of 6 figure signing bonuses.

John

Professors are very interactive and most are very friendly. Most if not all of them love what they teach and are happy to help you anyway they can. Students in return learn alot and they do have intellectual conversations outside of class. I recommend this because other students may have picked up on something in class that you missed and would need for the class. Career wise, the school does not teach you how to perform a specific real world job, but it does teach you how to work hard and learn things you will need for the rest of your life.

Ryan

The academics at Davidson are challenging for sure, yet not unmanageable. I spend at least 3 hours of my day devoted to athletics and am still able to manage my academics and maintain a social life if that gives any perspective. Different professors and different departments can determine the difficulty of your experience. The sciences are considered much tougher than the sociology department for example, and I've found that asking upperclassmen about professors helps in selecting the best teachers. Students definitely devote lots of hours to their academics yet I've found that professors are willing to help as well as other classmates. The atmosphere is not "cut-throat" in my opinion. One frustration I have with Davidson is the grade deflation. Coming out of high school my expectations were to maintain receiving all A's like most students here, but that's just not the case at Davidson. You really have to work and put in the time for your grades and that's just an adjustment that needs to be made.

Ryan

Academics at Davidson are tough. You have to work hard if you want a good GPA. I personally haven't found Davidson's workload to be intense (although others have), but receiving As on papers takes Herculian effort. Tests, I think, are easier than papers, but are still hard. Classes are small at Davidson, but I've found discussion to be very sparse. I think Davidson students are so concerned with their self-image that they're afraid to voice their opinion. I've had a few intellectual conversations out of class, but by all means, they're not the norm. In general, I think it's fair to say that Davidson is not very intellectual. When I think Davidson, I think of hard-working, motivated students who care about improving themselves. Unfortunately, there's not much learning for learning's sake nor much intellectual discussion outside of class.

Megan

Academics at Davidson are tough. People study a lot but for the most part its all about time management. You can get all of your work done it's just a matter of whether you do it at midnight the night before its due or a couple days ahead of time, most people are not in the latter category. The thing about academics is that even though it's tough, everyone is in the same boat so you don't feel all alone in this sea of work, everyone has that much and everyone is really supportive of each other. All of the professors hold office hours but it is really up to the students to make use of them and also some professors are easier to talk to than others. So professor-student relationships for the most part are good but it really is up to the student to make the most of the dynamic.

Terry

Academics at Davidson are not easy. There aren't many cracks one can fall between here - for better or worse. You will work hard, but you will be rewarded. Even during my first year at Davidson, I felt smarter. Not just that I knew more things, but that I changed the way I approached problems and challenges. The teachers here are among the best. They teach in ways I don't think I would have found anywhere else. I realized this in the first year biology class required for pre-med students. The teaching approach at Davidson is brilliant. Not only that, but the teachers are also brilliant, intriguing, and caring. I still maintain my relationships with past professors because they impacted me as person, and I love them for that. But let me restate: if you want to do well at Davidson, bring your A game, it will likely be a B game here.

Kent

Students study pretty hard. Professors are fantastic. The lectures are exciting, the professors are available in their office and by e-mail, students take class fairly seriously. The education you get at Davidson is certainly for its own sake, and few majors prepare you for a job per se, although students serious about further academic study or research have fantastic opportunities.

Nick

Academics here are, to be honest, strenuous. The classes are small (I've never had more than 45 people, even in a 101 survey course) so there aren't opportunities for anonymity. The professors hold you responsible for your work and participation. In my opinion this is awesome as I learn a lot more and feel more in touch with my studies. The professors are extremely accessible (will probably learn your name within a week) and willing to help outside of class and even outside of office hours. Last semester one of my classes even had dinner at our professor's house! The only hard part is the work load which sometimes seems unmanageable, though everyone gets through their things. I usually have two to three hours worth of work on any given day and oftentimes much more. I write at least one small (2-3 pg.) paper a week and will usually have a larger paper every other week.

Kate

Professors know you! Even as a freshman, I've never had a class over thirty people! Now that is rare among colleges. They are friendly and always available. They even give out their home phone numbers. I have had coffee as my professor's treat before! My math professor throws a fried chicken dinner party at his house at the end of each semester. Students study alot, but it's just another way we bond. I really do not mind the work. Students carry their conversations about classes far beyond the classroom walls. Fellowship groups, debate societies and even the dinner table in Commons become forums for discussion and growth. I feel that my opinions have matured ten-fold since coming here. But it is all very respectful and friendly. There is not a mean atmosphere or competitive environment at Davidson. For example, when writing a paper I checked out a certain book from the library. Later on, a girl emailed our class asking if anyone had the book and if so could we share it. It was so simple, so nice and so typical of Davidson. No one tries to hold others back!

Tate

Davidson has a really close feel academically. The average class size is 15, and I usually actively participate in every class. Classes are capped at 25-30 students (with the exception of Psychology 101, which has a maximum of 40 students). Coming out of high school, I felt like I would work hard wherever I went to college, and it's nice not being in the minority as one who does a lot of studying. The workload is very intense, but doable. Students taking AP classes are at an extreme advantage coming in to freshman classes, especially in the lab sciences required for medical school. Davidson also accepts up to 4 AP credits which translate into course credit. Students only take 4 classes per semester, which is manageable.

Blake

Way too hard. Your GPA will suffer and it won't matter that you know Davidson is hard, no graduate schools or employers know that so they'll just think you're dumb.

Tracy

At Davidson, all my professors know my name, my interests, and my activities. Obviously, this is truer for upper level courses, however the professors care who you are as a person. They are always available for outside help. They want you to succeed, however you have to work for everything you get. The academics are very, very challenging and at times I question why I put myself through this pain. There is a lot of studying. Students are competitive; however it is not in the cut throat way that I have seen at many of the Ivy League schools. Davidson is competitive in a very healthy way. Furthermore, I would say that the education is geared towards learning for its own sake rather than the getting a job.

Caroline

Sure we study a lot and work really hard, but we have a great time too. We also aren't competitive with each other about grades. No one asks, "What did you get?" or thinks that if you do well it means that they won't do as well on a test or paper. We really are concerned about helping each other out. Professors know your name and a lot about you too. Even years or semesters after you've had a professor for a class, they still talk to you and ask how everything is going. Everyone here is really interesting and interested in getting to know each other, professors and students alike.

Lauren

Academica are definately tough. You need to have goo time management becasue there is so much do do at Davidson. There are too few classes offered in my opinion and some of the requirements are obnoxious (i.e. Philosophy) but overall I have been pleased with the teachers and atmospheres of the classes.

Carson

Professors know your name and remember it for 3 years. It's kind of freaky. Professors are very available outside of class, the only problem is that you might be too busy studying to visit them. My least favorite class was a professor who taught like it was a high school class but tested us like we were grad students. There could often be a better equanimity between teaching style and testing/grading style. The academic requirements are very fair, and they really encourage taking a semester abroad. Students are not competitive, which I like, but they are very intellectual and politically aware. It's like an ivy league without all the people freaking out about grad schools. I feel like alot of students at Davidson graduate with the interest in being a professor or working in academia someday.

Allison

Most of my professors learn my name by the middle of the semester. If I go to their office hours, they are much more likely to remember me. Most will notice if I am absent from class just because they know the seat that I always sit in. I have had quite a few professors at Davidson that I have not liked in the Math, chemistry, and religion departments either because they did not inspire me to learn to the material, they were not very personable, or i disagreed with their core beliefs. However, I have also had some professors that I absolutely love. My english professor/freshman advisor invited me over to her house on several occassions for picnics and dinner. She was also my professor for a class that combine outdoor leadership skills with environmental writing. We would go on backpacking trips and learn about the environment. It was definitely one of my favorite classes at Davidson. The academics are very strenuous, but manageable. Everyone always has way more work than seems humanly possible to complete, but due to the "Davidson Miracle," it always all gets done. Teachers are flexible in giving you extensions and generally understand the intense workload and try to accomodate students as much as possible. Class participation is very common in most classes including some science classes. Classes never exceed 40 students and are usually around 25, small enough for the teacher to learn everyone's name. Many students have intellectual conversations outside of class. Sometimes you have to get away from the academics, but you can always find someone who will be talking about the latest basketball game or Office episode. I am a biology major and the department is wonderful. All the professors have been extremely helpful in guiding me through my major decision. My current biology professor approached me to inform me about a variety of research opportunities on campus because she sensed that I might be interested. I chose my biology advisor without every having him as a professor because I was talking to him one day and he emphasized the importance of a well-rounded individual. He emphasized the importance of balance in one's life and immediately I knew I liked him. He can advise me on life as well as on which biology classes to take.

Cory

Professors know your name. The classes are small for the most part (especially higher levels) and they demand participation and taking a lot of notes. My favorite class had 12 people where we shared stories about watching television as a child and discussed the impact of television on children today. There are definately a lot of academic conversations outside of class and also a lot of religous debate. They are not very enviornmentally active though since this school is primarily a republican school in the south. Davidson is geared towards education for its own sake and in fact doesn't even grant credit for internships in the summer (aka they make it even harder for people to get a job after college).

kate

Very intimidating. When you come, you do not really understand how much work there will be. At the same time, I have learned so much across such a wide spectrum. I started off wanting to be an English major, switch to Psychology, declared, and now at the end of my junior year I was able to switch to Philosophy. Davidson has introduced so many subjects and books, and ideas to me, that it seems so hard to just be interested in one subject. There are always talks, lectures, and tea-time discussions to take part of. But instead of presenting us with some intelectual banter, they address real issues, whether they are political, social, or simply a forum to ask questions.

Rebecca

The professors genuinely care for their students as well, but often forget that we have other classes aside from theirs and assign astronomical amounts of work. However, they are always available for help outside of class or just to talk. They are very accessible and open to relationships with their students. If you come here, you'll learn more than you ever thought possible in four years, but you'll work your butt off for it. If you want to have a 4.0 GPA, don't come here.

Katie

Classes are hard and you will get frustrated with your grades, you just have to do your best. A lot of times it seems like people don't put their best effort into things with the excuse, "This is Davidson, a C here is like an A somewhere else." That's an easy assumption to slip into, but if you really put effort in and talk with your professors, they'll see your hard work and reward it. The small class sizes made transitioning from high school to college pretty easy. You get to know people in your classes. I really feel like learning is celebrated here, classes are both enriching and helpful in guiding you towards a career.

Andrew

There is a lot of work and most professors have very high expectations, but in the end, I think it is worth it. The classes are all very small and professors are always accessible. There are very few classes that are easy A's, but you get well prepared for what comes after college.

Blake

Professors know who you are because classes are so small and they are always available for help! They have office hours and just sit there and give you one on one help. No classes are taught by TAs so the faculty is really dedicated. Lots of work of course, but we are all here because we want to learn, we want to challenge ourselves.

Joe

The professors here are great, and go out of their way to make themselves accessible to students. The workload is intense, but most professors will do just about anything they can to help you out.

Christine

GPA. GPA. GPA. Davidson students constantly talk about how low their GPAs are and how it's impossible to have a 4.0. While there was only one person with a 4.0 in the Freshman class last year, it is possible to have a decent GPA without locking onesself in the library. Classes are challenging but stimulating. Professors are happy to meet students outside of class (there are no TAs!). Keep in mind though that Davidson is a Liberal Arts college. Expect to find learning for learnings sake and few course offerings that apply directly to possible jobs after Davidson.

Darry

Professors are very close to their students, classes are small. Class participation is very important, you can't miss class. Davidson students have ONLY intellectual conversations outside of the classroom. Students are ridiculously competitive, sometimes it's annoying. You go to dinners with your professors, and your classmates. Davidson's a really challenging school, that's why we only have competitive intelligent people.

Deanna

Professors are always available for help outside the classroom, they are really focused on making sure you are getting the most out of your education.

Jessie

way too hard

Elizabeth

Academics at Davidson are completely different than any other place I visited. Davidson professors really know your name, know when your in class, and can most likely pull up something you said in class at any given moment. There is no shrinking into the background here. The workload can be insane and every student realizes that "hell week" could easily turn into "hell semester." In class everyone has to participate or get called out by their professor; not speaking in class basically equate to not having done the work - a serious offense. While professors can be strict about their classes, they are fantastic outside of them. Going to office hours is a sure fire way to improve your grade in any class, and the opportunity to have dinner with a professor is no rare occasion. Outside of class, students strike up intellectual conversations casually...on some level I think it is all we are able to talk about. Students will talk politics while completely wasted at a party and no one bats an eye.

Charley

Top notch in every way. The attendance policy sucks but at least you get something out of class.

Ryan

Professors at Davidson know our names. You cannot "get lost" here. You are a student and they treat you like a person, not just a number or a body in a large lecture hall. I took a history class my first semester here. I got to know the professor as the semester progressed. I passed him the other day on the sidewalk and he said hello and asked how my semester was going. We talked for a few minutes and at the end of our conversation he said "Hey, stop by my office sometime and we can catch up." I had not seen him since December and over three months later he asked me to stop by so we could catch up. I am not even a "history person" and he cared enough about me to ask about me when I was not in his class any more. Professors here care about us as students and it shows. I do not imagine there is a more caring faculty than the one we have here at Davidson.

Erica

Academics can be a major source of stress at Davidson, because classes tend to have very heavy workloads, and can be very rigerous. However, the rewards are worth it for the amount of hard work we do. Professors are attentive and available, and I have found it very easy to get very interested in classes that I take, even when they are just fulfilling requirements in departments that are nothing like my major. I think the education at Davidson is geared toward learning for its own sake, I feel encouraged to take classes based on what I am interested in, rather than what will help me find jobs in the future. (hopefully the two will end up converging anyway!)

Jennifer

Academics are hard at Davidson. Students are competitive, intelligent and extremely hard workers. We do a lot of studying! One great thing is the professor involvement- I've seen every professor I've ever had one on one in their office. Education here is geared toward learning for its own sake, and professors really care to see their students learn and succeed.