Davidson College Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Katie

There is no doubt that Davidson academics are ridiculously hard. The small nature of the classes makes it so the professor can teach and even expect more from the students. Although the work is sometimes impossible, the professors are kind, caring, and overall make the learning experience a great one!

Alex

professors definitely know their students names and class participation is practically required due to the small class sizes. students study all the time. when we went to detroit to watch our boys play in the sweet sixteen and elite eight, there were people studying in the hotel at all times. that might give you some idea. education at davidson is about learning. the idea is that when you graduate from davidson you will be so hard-working that you will be able to succeed at any job thrown at you. at least that is my opinion.

kat

You are going to get your ass handed to you on a platter time and time and time again. ITS WORTH IT!! you WILL learn whether you want to or not (if you're seriously contemplating coming here, my guess is that you want to)...and you will learn a lot! your grades wont reflect it (at least not most of the time) but when they do, you've actually done something...and done it well.

Parker

really tough and there's no grade inflation here which means our grade point averages are lower

kelly

the professors here are great, helpful, and take the time to know you. however, the academics are ridiculously hard - sometimes it feels as if it is unnecessarily difficult. the grading curve is hard as well - what you might receive an "a" on at any other school will often be graded as a "b" here. also, the load is extremely intense for most classes. while the teachers help you when you ask, they make no effort to baby you or make it any easier.

Erin

The classes at Davidson are small. Most are capped at 30 (some intro classes have 40) but most average around 20. Some are even as small as 4. While this seems intimidating, it's actually really nice. Teachers know your name and are extremely willing to help, especially if you go see them during office hours. They understand that Davidson is a hard school so they do their best to work with you and your schedule to help you succeed. We have a lot of core requirements that are a part of the liberal arts background, but nothing unmanageable. And sometimes the work does seem overwhelming. There will be weeks when everything piles up and is due at once. But everyone has those weeks and everyone understands, so you're in good company. Just don't expect friends at big state schools to understand your workload...they most likely won't.

Blake

very tough. they basically don't give As.

Blake

Are extremely challenging but important. Classes definitely over prepare you for life after college and just being a well-spoken intelligent person in general.

Karen

Academically, Davidson can be quite challenging and there is no grade inflation on this campus. With that said, however, it is possible to do well, and you will learn a lot here.

Sarah

Grading can be difficult, but it seems to be more difficult for those who have never faced tough standards before. People here definitely are not trained in class discussion or oral argument tactics. There is much greater emphasis on writing than speaking. Professors absolutely know your name, and probably other things about you. You know their name, things about them, and probably their home or cell phone numbers. You may even get to go to their house for dinner or a cookout.

Caitlin

Academics at Davidson are very tough in general. Most students spend a lot of time in the library; in fact, the library is often thought of as a place to socialize as well as to study. Despite what some people say though, the work here is not by any means impossible, and I actually like and respect the fact that all of my friends take pride in their academic success. Class participation is common (and expected) since classes are so small.

Quinn

Academics. At. Davidson. Are. Hard. Professors almost always know your name (and classes are small enough that you will get called on, if not normally than frequently). Especially in the arts and languages class discussion is huge. Reading assignments will take hours on end, papers abound, problem sets are lengthy, and class participation is required in most courses. Course offerings can be limited but consequently your profs will only have the utmost knowledge of their subject -- they don't spread themselves into disciplines they're not knowledgeable about. Despite how interesting they can be, pretty much any course at Davidson is an ass-kicker; I have yet to find an "easy course".

Catherine

The stress of academics is probably overrated - everyone who got into Davidson should be able to handle the stress of the course load. Students are bright and not afraid to go to professors with questions or concerned. Sometimes I feel suffocated by the course requirements, but it hasn't deterred me that much from taking courses I want to take just for the heck of it (i.e. music of the united states, modern East Asian history). My favorite classes are usually English classes where small groups drive discussion. I dislike large lecture classes because it's too easy to get distracted or zone out. My professors all know my name and I value our relationships.

katie

They are impossible.

Corey

Academics at Davidson are demanding. Prepare to work and work and work. It's a lot.

Nora

Too rigorous. People stress too much and all the time. I hear about friends at other schools having tons of fun all the time, we get very little time to have fun but make the best of that time.

Andy

All of my professors know my name, even some with whom I have never taken a class. It is not uncommon to see a professor in the student union or sometimes downtown in CVS. Students study a lot, class work loads tend to fluctuate, if you had a light load this week it is probably because you are going to have a few papers and a test next week. It's tough but manageable. Students are always competitive but not in a vicious way, students are always making study groups and reviewing together for tests. For my psychology 101 class I was worried for our first test and typed up a fifteen page review sheet and a girl in my class had had a very tough few weeks because of extra curriculars and her other classes and she was freaking out about the test and I didn't think twice before emailing her a copy of the review sheet that I'd been working on all week. She forwarded her outline to me for her second test. Students are never trying to be the best by keeping others down, they just want to do their best work. Unfortunately, in order for Davidson to achieve the academic standing that they deserve, they must be tough while grading. Professors have a quota for how many A's, B's and C's they give out, too many A's they get talked to. Knowing this, however, means that the B+ you got was deserved, it was not just handed to you for doing the work.

Liza

Academics are...tough. but in a good way. I almost always feel challenged, and thatI have learned a lot from all of my classes. Sometimes I wish classes were bigger so I didnt have to participate so much. All of my professors know my name and I would feel comfortable dropping by their offices anytime just to chat. The education is definitely geared towards learning for learning's sake. Sometimes it is frustrating that we cant learn more practical skills, but we keep being told we are going to prepared to do anything- i hope that proves to be true!

Grace

Professors are amazing.

Parker

Academics are stimulating. Classes that you take simply to fulfill requirements can turn out to the push towards a major you'd never chosen before (I thought I wanted to be an English major until my current Biology class). Professors are very personable and open to meeting outside of class. I have had several meetings that ended up being interesting conversations about life beyond the classroom. I tend to dread speaking in Spanish but my meetings with my Spanish professor always end up being lengthy conversations because she is so interesting and enthusiastic. You also run into them in entirely unexpected places such as the cross country trails which can provide very amusing stories. The most unique class I've taken is Young Adult Fiction in which we read classic and controversial books geared towards young adults and discuss their educational and societal importance; friends outside the class are really jealous of our reading list. Intellectual conversations don't stem up as often as the student body has the potential for, but I feel we have a healthy balance between personal and intellectual connections. One day you talk politics, the next day you talk about who likes who, and both are very intriguing conversations. The liberal arts philosophy definitely makes the education here about learning for its own sake. Most of the seniors I know have very open job opportunities. The only program I think of as being truly pre-professional is Pre-Med and even that is a concentration, not a major. A lot of the Pre-Meds I know are English and Political Science majors.

Dawson

Of course professors know our names. The average class size at Davidson is around 12-15 students. The largest class (Psychology 101) is capped at 40. Classes range from Organic Chemistry to Biology for Poets; from Creative Nonfiction to Literary Analysis; from Classical Buddhism to Religion in the Movies. Davidson has a Core Cirriculum in which students must take a certain number of classes in each area of study (ex. fine arts or social sciences). Because Davidson is a liberal arts school, administration takes a personal interest in each student's knowledge in all areas of study. One interesting thing is that Davidson does not inspire competition between students in the classroom but rather encourages competition with one's self. Everyone wants to do well on papers and tests, but students rarely talk about their own grades. Students support each other academically. Professors sometimes have students over to their houses in the town of Davidson, especially at the end of the year before final exams. Professors have office hours each week, when they are required to be in their offices so that students can visit to talk about anything and everything if they so desire.

Lauren

all of the professors strive to get to know their students in class and outside of class, frequently inviting students over for dinner or going out for a drink at the Brickhouse. My favorite classes have been chemistry of art and artifacts and human biology (sciences for non-major) and all of my spanish classes (which made me want to be a spanish major), theater classes were always fun and interesting, I loved my Writing course freshman year. We only had 13 people in the class and we talked about images of disability in literature and how it's perceived by society as well. I hated the one and only math class I took, but in retrospect the professor was very open and always available and wanted the students to succeed. but i took the class as a freshman and never liked math to begin with. there is great class participation, my favorite thing about davidson has been the people because of the intellectual conversations we ahve outside of class. there is no competition here, which i love. that was a major reason for me to come to davidson. my major is spanish, the department is extremely helpful and they care so much about their students. I have had hte best experience with my thesis director this semester and he has always looked out for me. when iw ent abroad, I took 8 classes that I needed to receive credit for at Davidson and the spanish department was very accomodating and made sure that all of my classes counted toward my major. i see professors outside of class in office hours and my shakespeare professor this semester is hosting a birthday party for Shakespeare at his house in the coming weeks. the academic requirements helped me choose my major, I am in favor of them. Even taking math wasn't so bad... the education at Davidson is not geared toward a specific career path but it will help you get a job because it trains you to be trainable and flexible. You learn skills that will always be important and useful no matter what job you apply for or higher level education you enroll into after Davidson. You will learn to analyze, discuss, and use your writing.

Emily

Professors are great. They are intelligent, interesting people from different backgrounds, and they are concerned about you personally. They know your name, and encourage you to come into office hours. My favorite class is Chinese because I learn how to speak the language, learn about the culture, and my professor makes class entertaining with random funny jokes. Class participation is pretty necessary since classes are so small, typically 12 students. Students have intellectual conversation outside of class, but are not competitive. People talk about the work load and grade deflation, but never compare grades. The most unique class I took was Humanities: Cultures and Civilizations. It explored essays, books, films, and comics that had to do with building traditions in other cultures. Since it's liberal arts, the education is geared toward learning for it's own sake, especially to think critically, read, write, and communicate. I like it because it prepares you for any job in the future, which you can decide on later. There are core requirements. I don't mind them, but PE requirements and Davidson 101 credits (life courses) are kind of a hassle.

Royce

Academics are extremely challenging. Nevertheless, the professors are very encouraging and supportive of all efforts.

Marissa

What makes academics at Davidson really special is the contact students have with professors. Classes are small, and you can go talk to your professor during their office hours. After addressing your question, your professor will probably ask you about yourself, your other classes, and how things are going in general. The professors really care about their students and want to help them have a positive experience at Davidson. Students can pursue relationships with professors beyond the classroom, too. A professor who knew I was involved in choir actually invited me and a number of former students to the opera.

Harper

It is small enough so that all the professors will know your name. However, the downside to that is that they will definitely notice if you skip class!

Amanda

Professors here are your friends; they don't want you to fail just as much as you don't want to and so they are willing to work with you through whatever you are having troubles with. They are also so engaged in their classes that you can't help being engaged too. True, sometimes you get someone who you don't get along with, but more often then not you will establish relationships that last a long time with a few professors who are great people and take stock in your well being.

Catherine

The Good: All of my professors know my name. At least one has my cell phone number in their phone. I even sold my car to one of them over a coke in his office. They are excellent and mostly approachable and super friendly. Students work extremely hard, but are not not competitive. Unique class: traveling abroad for 4 months with 20 other students throughout 8 countries in the Mediterranean with one Davidson professor. I never thought I would be at the Pyramids in Egypt and call it my classroom. The bad: Students need to learn how to relax about their work more often and learn to have real academic conversations. Achievement can knock out learning for learnings sake here. Oh, and more foreign languages would be super. I wanted to continue to learn Italian, and they don't have a real department for that.

Royce

Davidson is hard. There's no question about it. HOWEVER, you can make it as hard as you want to be. Some people come to college for academics, others for the "college experience." Whether or not you're going to fully commit yourself to your classes, there are opportunities to do so. The professors are great, the classes are (mostly) really engaging and interesting, and you can learn a lot.

Alex

Classes are small...one of mine has four people in it...and are very much discussion-based. The Socratic method reigns here. Students are competitive, but not with each other so much as with themselves. Professors are a delight...they are challenging and thought-provoking in class and almost universally warm, friendly, and helpful out of class during office hours. Davidson standards are extremely high, almost frustratingly so. Grade deflation is a reality here...which is sometimes disheartening but also means your good grades mean a lot. While Davidson's liberal arts curriculum prizes learning for its own sake, it also emphasizes the skills necessary for the working world (and its pre-professional programs are legendary).

Marybeth

Professors know students on a personal level. Class participation is expected. Some unique classes that I've taken so far have been "Religion in Food" and a writing class called "Clones, Clones, Clones." In my Modern Jewish Literature class, we've had to read about 11 novels this semester. Learning for it's own sake is cherished, but I'm getting nervous about finding a job.

Alex

Academics at Davidson are some of the best in the country. You are pushed to your very limit sometimes! Being a biology major, I have taken mostly science classes. However, Davidson does have a good core requirement system that has allowed me to take just about every class I've wanted to take outside of my major. Within the biology department my professors absolutely know my name, my interests, and even come to my choir concerts! Professors and students have a great relationship on campus and they definitely do their best to further our education and help us to succeed in, and after, Davidson. The biology department is particularly strong at Davidson and while I will be attending graduate school after this year, I know many people who have been accepted to competitive medical schools or have gotten great jobs at the NIH, etc. Some people might assume that a liberal arts school only provides you with information for the sake of learning - not necessarily at Davidson. There is a wide spectrum of students and goals at Davidson, from direct industry to academia, and the faculty understand that. Therefore, if you plan on getting a job there is an infrastructure (career services) to help with that, and if you plan on getting more schooling there is help for that, too (mainly through your advisor).

Lindsay

Academics at Davidson are challenging, but you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you do well. You know that you have truly earned any good grade that you receive. The classes are generally small (less than 35 students), so the professors always know you by name. Professors always have office hours and are very receptive to helping students. They also want to know you outside of class through inviting students to their houses for dinner, attending lectures together, relevant field trips, etc. Also due to the small class size, class participation is almost obligatory. People will notice if you never contribute to the discussion.

Laura

All my professors here know my name, and every students name in their class. Students here are competitive, but not with each other, with themselves. Academics at Davidson are challenging and time consuming. Yet academics are also empowering and enlightening. I've had the opportunity to eat dinner at professors' houses already.

Sarah

The relationship between professors and students at Davidson is awesome! Not only are they readily available to talk to, they really encourage students to come see them. I've had professors who required that you come talk to them at least once, so they could get to know you a bit outside of class. Also, when you sign up for a class with a world-famous professor, you know you will have that professor every day of class instead of having a graduate student.

Dale

Classes are interesting, it is hard to fail classes, especially because they are so small its hard to slip through the cracks, but it is also very hard to make As. We have a low average GPA compared to our peer institutions. Students do study a good amount, especially during certain times of the semester where work gets intense. Class participation is a must, especially in upper level classes. Students are fairly competitive, but also self-deprecating. Professors and students do communicate outside of class, office hours are available and easy to get to. In one of my seminars we gave our research presentations at the professor's house instead of in the classroom. Education is more geared towards learning for its own sake- there are no business, "pre-med" or "pre-law" majors, instead you choose a liberal arts or science major and participate in "pre" programs to make sure you take a variety of classes and do activities that will improve your application. The honor code is really great for academic life: exams are self scheduled at the end of the semester, so you can decide how much time you need to study and what order to do your exams.

Casey

Students aren't really competitive with others. I don't know anyone else's GPA. I feel more like I'm competing with myself to see how well I can do in comparison to past semesters. I do feel that there's a section of Davidson that's incredibly intellectual and then there's another portion of the student body that's here to party and pass classes without really learning much. The Political Science department is the best on campus. Our professors have real-world experience and really care for their students. The academic requirements are easy to satisfy without any trouble. The education is definitely focused on the liberal arts, but this has been a huge benefit during my job search. When you leave Davidson, you know how to write, write, write, and write some more. It's been an incredible experience overall. I feel like my brain has doubled in size since I arrived as a freshman!

Callie

Davidson is a very challenging school. There is no such thing as an "easy A." Teachers are, for the most part, very knowledgeable and expect a lot out of their students. The classes are small so the professors know your name, which is great except when you want to miss class because it is very obvious you are not there. Some professors will even invite students to their homes for dinner with their family. Due to the honor code, our final exams are self-scheduled, and most of our other exams are take home because almost no one cheats at Davidson. Everyone at Davidson is an overachiever, so conversations will often be about politics or the economy.

Tate

Davidson is hard. You will get a disastisfactory grade in at least one class while here. You get used to ridiculously high standards. Students are very competitve with themselves. There isn't much competition between students because we all are going through the same thing to survive. I love my department and the professors are amazing. They know your names, are interested in developing relationships with their students, and actually have their students' interests come first in class.

Katherine

Academics are Davidson's main focus, and it shows. Students are encouraged to participate in all their classes, and professors not only know your name but whether or not you were in class last Thursday. Students study all the time, and professors really push students to test themselves in terms of their paradigms and prejudices. The academics at Davidson are difficult but arguably one of the most meaningful parts of the Davidson experience.

Monica

The small class sizes at Davidson allow for very personal relationships with not only the students in the classroom, but the professor. As I'm answering this question, I actually just got back from my professor's house (he had us over to meet his wife and have desserts on a Sunday evening).

Ellen

This is why you would come to Davidson. This place is for intelligent, driven students and is really not easy. Classes are small and you cannot get away with being unprepared for class, and participation and discussion guides most courses. That said, the quality of professors here compliments the rigor perfectly. Professors' office hours are flexible and as frequent as you may need. They really do want students to stop by if they're having trouble in any part of the class. These professors all have the highest degrees in their field and are curious and so smart.

Allison

hard. . . constant

Margot

All my professors know my name. My largest class has 40 students and my smallest has 13. Everyone works hard and plays hard...the library is always packed. Despite the academic rigor, students aren't competitive at all. I never see people looking over at my test to see what my grade was. The honor code completely embodies campus life and everyone takes it very seriously. We have self-scheduled exams, and we are bound to turn in a friend if we know they've cheated.

Roger

i didnt know what i was getting into here. Shits tough (professors real cool). About 75% of campus are crazy nerds who love to complain about how much work they have.

Katherine

People exagerate about their workload here. While the amount of work you have can depend on the courseload you're taking, for the most part, I'm working just as hard as friends at similar schools and top liberal arts colleges. I do, however, think that there is absolutely zero grade inflation here, which might tick people off, and some professors feel professor to fit the pattern of being hard graders by giving out bad grades without any explanation.

Hannah

all my professors know my name students study often class participation is expected religion department is rock solid, the best professors and classes. davidson is challenging, and the professors seek to challenge you, but they do it because they care. i spend every friday afternoon at the coffee shop with two of my professors.

Bobby

Good professors, sometimes to cooky, which makes them inaproachable. There is a lack of diversity in opinions, which sometimes doesn't allow debate.

Sam

Do professors know your name? Always. Most professors make a point to memorize everyone's name, although it's inevitable with the small class sizes. Tell us about your favorite class. Least favorite? I've really enjoyed most of my classes. We have some amazing professors. The only classes I've disliked have been due to the subject (for example, physics. Boring!) How often do students study? All the time. Is class participation common? Yes. And it's usually at least 10% of your grade. Do Davidson students have intellectual conversations outside of class? All the time. Even when we're inebriated :-) Are students competitive? I don't feel like we're competitive with one another. Maybe in sports or with other schools, but for the most part we're willing to help each other out (it benefits both parties). What's the most unique class you've taken? No idea. Tell us about your major / department. Spanish - good. I don't know a lot about it thought because I'm premed so most of my advising comes from the premed advisor. I've heard rumors that the Spanish dept. is disorganized, but so far I haven't had any problems. They do need more profs. though, especially fictional writing, etc. All Spanish classes are literature based. Do you spend time with professors outside of class? Sometimes. Professors sometimes invite their students to end-of-semester parties at their houses. How do you feel about Davidson 's academic requirements? I think they're appropriate for a liberal arts school. Is the education at Davidson geared toward getting a job, or learning for its own sake? Both. Liberal arts education definitely is geared toward created well-rounded adults who love to learn AND will get good jobs.

Kara

Yes to all of the above. There is a very close relationship between professors and students in which every professor knows every student in their class and spends time with them outside of class. Professors will often have students, especially major advisees, over for dinner. Students study very often during the week, and are fairly competetitive, though with themselves more than anything. The most unique class I've taken is a religion class called "Death, Dying and the Afterlife." It focuses on cultural beliefs surrounding death and dying and the changes that have occurred over the last century. While the liberal arts curriculum at Davidson is centered around learning for its own sake, you'll have a hard time finding an alumni that didn't easily get hired right out of Davidson in a wide variety of fields.

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