Grinnell is rigorous. Yes, I did the whole "International Baccalaureate/Honors" thing in high school, and it might have prepared me a little--but high school is still no comparison to this college. The good news is the professors are very interesting and approachable, and if you need help it is VERY available: all professors have long office hours outside of class, and the college pays for mentors and tutors in every subject. Sometimes, you will need that support.
The academics are, of course, very strong here. Popular majors are biology, English, economics, and political science. Classes are usually discussion-based, except for basic sciences which tend to be lectures. The largest class I've had has about 34 people in it, and it's one of the most popular classes here (Intro to Anthropology). There is a very collaborative environment here; students don't compete with each other, and most students study and go over homework in groups. Professors care deeply about their subjects and students in the vast majority of cases. There are a few bad professors, but that's bound to happen at any school. There aren't required classes, just divisional requirements, which means that students take classes because they really want to learn the subjects. I would recommend to every student to take Acting or Performance Studies sometime during their career, here or at any college. It's absolutely the best experience here I've had.
I feel good about the philosophy of its curriculum, free and open and stuff, never have to take a math class. However, I have severe issues with its implementation. Several teachers publically REFUSE to give As. Non-liberal students can get punished by liberal faculty. Classes are hard to get into unless your a darling of the school.
I have heard stories of several teachers who are notoriously stingy graders. I used to get no less than A-s on my English papers, and now my average paper grade is around a B-. Students are often punished for voicing dissent in liberal curriculums (I got a D in sociology and know several others who had similar experiences).
The work load is pretty intense, but not as much for non science folk. For the other departments, it's acceptable.
Despite discouraging results, most professors know what they're talking about and care.
Students love talking academics at all times
Grinnell students are usually laid-back and non-competitive, but unafraid to share an opinion and take it well outside of class.
Profs definitely know your name. I've taken wonderful classes in the anthropology department. The faculty is just amazing. Class participation is IMPERATIVE. Most are discussion based classes and you are definitely held responsible for having prepared the material before class. Grinnell students have intellectual convos outside of class for sure, but they also have goofy ones as well. Students are competitive against themselves, not against other students. Sabotage or things like that don't happen here. Grinnell's policy of open curriculum is great! Students are encouraged to explore disciplines and go outside their major/s. Education here is more for grad school than anything else, though there are a ton of students who join the Peace Corps or TFA after graduation.
I love the academic life at Grinnell. Classes are normally small and professors take the time to know your name and to make sure you know everyone else's name's. The focus on community starting in the classroom makes it much easier to continue the discussions outside of the classroom. I declared an Independent major, and the professors I declared with are partly the only reason I am able to study an obscure field such as Social Epidemiology. They are also a support system for me to bounce ideas off of, and get advise from when trying to shape and create my major. The professors at Grinnell constantly impress me, and I think the students help to mold and better the faculty that comes into the institution. Community and understanding is build throughout the system and I am very happy with how it functions in my academic life.
Academically, Grinnell is an excellent fit for students who are interested in full time learning. Students complain about the amount of homework, but since everyone has the same amount, there are lots of fun study breaks (organized by our SAs, who volunteer to community build on the floor they live on.) I’ve done all sorts of fun activities, like coloring and s’mores, board games and ginger bread houses, and one time my SA arranged for an international student to put henna on our hands! Another factor that balances out the amount of homework is the fact that it is very easy to get the classes you want, and the classes are always really interesting. I like to say, they have a “twist.” We don’t offer general courses, like American History 101. Instead, there is a “twist.” American history told through the eyes of the Native populations, American history in regards to our international policies, etc. Each class has the Grinnell “twist.” Homework is a lot easier to do when it is a class that is not only interesting, but a class you signed up for specifically. Grinnell is also known for having extremely intelligent professors, who are really there to teach. Although some may be working on other projects, every professor at Grinnell is dedicated to education. Professors will often meet one on one with students to check progress, approve essay topics, or to simply chat about topics that are relevant to the class and that interest the student. Professors invite students out for pizza or to their homes for a (much appreciated) home cooked meal. I have a friend who has developed a friendship with a professor that isn’t even for a course she is taking! They just found they had a lot in common, and wanted to talk about their interests.
Academics at Grinnell are v v demanding. Most of the students here are highly concerned about really doing well in class. Most are future PHDs
Make no mistake, the professors here are amazing. I never had a problem meeting with a professor; they made themselves very accessible and approachable, although they are simultaneously intimidating because of the superb intelligence that seems to cloak them like an aura. Class participation is generally required; no giant lecture halls here. The biggest class I enrolled in had 30 students.
Grinnell students tend to love discussions and engage in them everywhere, all the time. Some of them are extremely entertaining.
Academics are challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling than I ever would have expected. Most everyone would say that it is tough, but I left the school having grown academically and having formed bonds with my professors that I will never forget. In my experience, I never heard or saw evidence of students competing with each other. In fact, I would not have made it through certain science classes had it not been for the generosity of my fellow students. Science students often work through homework assignments together, which raises the level of learning. Class participation at Grinnell is important to almost every professor.
Professors at Grinnell are incredible. Every single prof knows every single student in his/her class and will go to considerble lengths to help. Students are encouraged to visit office hours. I have been to lunch multiple times with more than one of my professors.
The biology department is fun, lots of cool profs who are generous with their time and always give you a smile and a hello in the hallways. There are also weekly biology seminars held for the department that are enthusiastically attended, where students and visiting professors share their work. Many departments have this sort of sense of solidarity with their fellow majors.
Grinnell makes you work hard. You study a lot at Grinnell and they don't just throw A's around. But studying pays off, a professor will give you an A if you try hard. There are a lot of class discussions and participation is really encouraged. But Grinnell really isn't a competitive school. Grades aren't really discussed; people just want their classmates to do well. There isn't any incentive to want other people to fail, everyone does their best to help others succeed. Grinnell doesn't have any general distribution requirements either, so people who aren't necessarily good in one area of study don't have to take classes in that area. The professors are all really nice too, and they encourage students to talk to them in their office hours or to email them especially if they are having trouble in class. Grinnell has just a really supportive atmosphere where everyone, other students and professors alike, want to see succeed.
Academics in Grinnell has its own unique flavor. With small classrooms and accessible professors, I feel more like a colleague in training than a student.
Anywhere around campus, whether walking down the loggia, eating lunch, doing laundry, you're likely to hear students discussing current topics.
As I mentioned before, there are no requirements besides a freshmen tutorial which serves basically as an intro to college and make sure writing skills are up to par. This is one aspect of Grinnell that sold me as an incoming student. Students are able to take random classes that they are seriously interested in, but might not help towards a major. I'v been able to take course focused on natural hazards and disasters and another one on diseases in public health throughout European history. Both of these are topics I've always been interested in, but can't imagine being able to take elsewhere.
Academics can be stressful, but there are good resources for dealing with that stress. There are lots of options for students who are interested in any given subject. You can decalare an independent major. Students are not required to take classes that they don't want to take (for the most part). It is encouraged that we take a wide range of classes, but it in the end, our schedules are formed by our own decisions. All of the professors are very concerned about the students and very approachable. Discussion classes are favored by students and by professors.
At Grinnell, you had better be prepared to do your work. All of your professors will expect the utmost work out of you, and they are pretty good and deciphering when you could have done better. The homework load is known for being probably the largest in liberal arts colleges. Most classes are discussion based, and you are challenged not to repeat what you are told, but rather to question what you are told and give reasons why someone might decide to tell you that in the first place. The best part of learning at Grinnell is you are taught how to learn and question, as opposed to learning facts and rules.
All your professors will know your name there. With all the work we do, of course kids have intellectual conversations outside of class. Students really understand that it isn't a battle, though, and help each other understand the subjects we're studying. The people in class make most of the classes unique. I have had meetings with some of my professors out of class, but generally they are pretty busy too. At the end of the year, if you're lucky, you'll get to visit their house for a meal and good conversation. Though the education at Grinnell may be geared toward learning for its own sake, the education we get should prepare us to talk about these books with the outside world.
There is a very, very strong relationship between students and professors at Grinnell. I have been to almost every professor's office for additional help in every class. I do not go because I'm necessarily struggling, but because they help you improve every aspect of your classwork. Economics is a fairly good department at Grinnell, but I find it to be incredibly challenging. Luckily, requirements are very sparse at Grinnell, which allows me to take classes in a variety of subjects. This past semester I took German, Spanish, Macroeconomic Analysis, and Topics in American Music: Rock Music. Although Rock Music may seem like a cake-walk, we typically had a paper to do for every class, at least an hour of listening, and a large amount of reading. All classes are writing intensive. When I took Calculus I had to write math essays. Everyone says, no matter what you major in at Grinnell, you will come out a good writer. There are many places to go for assistance such as the writing lab, reading lab, and math lab. Sciences have senior "mentor's" who hold study sessions all the time (although most professors will hold their own study sessions, even on Sundays). The students will always be discussing the different things they recently learned in class, demonstrating the true love for learning that exists all around the campus. However, the Grinnell education is not geared toward any specific field, but attempts to teach students how to be well-read, academic, open-minded people for the rest of their lives.
In general, Grinnell academics are very strong. Like all schools, some classes/professors are hit or miss, but the majority of our professors are great. I can't be certain about this, but I'm pretty sure each of my professors has known my name -- at least, I can't remember any who haven't. I've spent time with several professors outside of class, and most of them have been kind, helpful, and interesting. It's nice to have professors treat you as an equal.
Students study pretty much everyday, though I tend to spend time with the more academically inclined, so I might be misrepresenting a slice of the Grinnell population. Most students I know, at least by the time they reach their junior and senior years, think we're assigned too much work -- it can get pretty ridiculous, and triaging often becomes necessary if you want to sleep at all.
Class participation is very common, and most professors expect it of all their students. I'm a fan of this system.
As regards student competitiveness, this is one area that I think makes Grinnell pretty unique -- we're not very competitive (with each other). My education at Grinnell has been uniformly characterized by cooperation and assistance among my classmates and other students. When we're competitive, it's with ourselves. We're really driven, and often expect too much of ourselves. That's part of what makes Grinnell academics stressful.
A Grinnell education isn't really geared towards getting a job -- we are, after all, a liberal arts college -- and learning for its own sake is definitely a part of our culture. I've had intellectual conversations outside of class with almost every student I know, and they're often very interesting, informative discussions. They're entertaining too -- Grinnellians are good at merging the intellectual with the ridiculous/humorous.
Education at Grinnell is definetly geared toward learning and not getting a job, which can be at times very frustrating. Yes profs know your know your name, the classes are small...but that is very similiar to other small, expensive liberal arts colleges. Whats cool about grinnell is that it seems like there's more social-economic diversity than other small liberal arts colleges, but the college has a lot of money and therefore seem to give more student financial aid.
A thirty-person class at Grinnell is huge; by contrast, one of my classes my first semester had 4 people, which gave us all a chance to learn directly. Teachers and students interact on a very individual level; they'll read drafts of your papers for you, but in return you'll need to make sure you participate! And don't be surprised if the participation extends outside the classroom--our dinner conversations often revolve around some interesting academic subject of the day. But to be upfront, it's a lot of work. I know a lot of people don't actually do the reading; I myself am not fond of skimping in homework, but do occasionally have to let a reading, if it's less important, slide. But that's all due to the ton of actual important stuff that you will have to do! Expect 15-page papers in 200-level social studies/humanities classes alongside of 140-200 page reading assignments per class, and hours of lab time if you're a science-y person. In my experience, my time outside of class is either spent on activities or homework; there's not much time for simple lounging (though I'm not totally typical in this respect). But the profs will be there with you and help you with anything you need--it's amazing. And many will have their classes over to dinner at the end of the semester; good cooks! The difficulty depends by department, of course; the history department is particularly tough, but boy will they teach you. The other factor that really helps you get through the work is that you can usually be in classes you want--there will be requirements for your major, but no inter-departmental requirements, so follow your passion! You'll be prepared to do almost anything you want once you've finished with Grinnell. A final curious factor which bears mentioning is that, while Grinnellians take pride in the work they do, it's not the results that you're allowed to tout--you can tell close friends about your grades, but really the point of pride comes in how hard/much you're working. We talk about effort, not end.
Academics at Grinnell are rigorous. You will be continuously challenged to stretch yourself to the limit, especially in the areas of writing and class participation. Professors at Grinnell don't lecture very often. Instead, most classes are conducted in a class-discussion format in which each student is expected to contribute to the construction of knowledge in the daily classroom environmnet. This participation is usually part of your grade. The good thing, though, is that because the classes are so small (average is about 15-20), the professor works hard to create a comfortable environment in which you're free to speak your mind. And in the process, you really get to know your fellow classmates. I've met some of my best friends in class. That doesn't happen at many schools. Intellectual conversations are extremely common outside of class. One of the things I love most about Grinnell is that it's not competitive at all. Discussions about grades are rare, and students are quick to help a fellow classmate study for an exam, edit a paper, or find a resource. Students at Grinnell study A LOT. I think I study an average of 5 hours a night. You simply can not start your homework for Monday on a Sunday night. The reading load is heavy, and you'll have several papers in every class. But the professors make is possible to do well. They are available for you outside of class during office hours and by email or phone call. The profs want you to do well, and they will literally sit with you for an hour editing your paper before you hand it in. Profs are very approachable, and it's not uncommon for them to invite students to their homes for dinner, invite them to an academic conference, or encourage them to apply to do research with them over the summer. Grinnell's individually advised curriculum is nothing short of awesome! Grinnell has no general education requirements other than one class--a writing intensive introduction to Grinnell academic life called "The First Year Tutorial." Other than that, you are free to pick all your own classes. There are requirements for your major, but you'll still have 2-3 classes each semester that you take outside your major department. It's extremely common for science majors to take theater classes, sociology majors to take bio, or math majors to take english. Grinnell students are truly well-rounded. One of my favorite classes was my social psychology class. In this class, each student designed and conducted their own in-depth experiment which they ran with actual participants. This is an experience that most college students don't receive until graduate school! Because Grinnell is a liberal arts college, its education is geared toward learning for its own sake--learning to become a life-long learner. Fortunately, the skills you learn at Grinnell will be useful in nearly every career and profession.
There is alot of work both in and out of class, but if you do it you always feel rewarded! (Well in most cases!)
Grinnell is awesome because professor do truly get to know you personally. The professors are what gives Grinnell its academic quality. They are extremely intelligent and capable in what they teach and they know how and are able to teach their students.
So I'm a bio major and my intro bio class was something unusual. Instead of being taught as a content-based lecture class like most schools, it was organized in a special topic/research seminar format. We read and discussed articles in a specific field of biology my professor was an expert in, and then used the information we gained from reading real, first-hand research articles to design our own experiments to test relevant questions in our field. My group removed bacteria from spinach, identified fecal contaminants, assessed their antibiotic resistance, and then mutated them with UV to observe how that resistance changed. The class put down a solid foundation of skills I will need to be a research scientist: reading and understanding primary literature, designing experiments, using sterile lab technique/working with microorganisms, giving oral presentations alone and in groups, making and presenting posters, writing full fledged, formal scientific papers, and many other useful things. It was amazing!
I'm on first name basis with all my profs. I talk to many of them outside of class all the time. We pull pranks on them, and they do the same to us some times. If you are into forming a close tie with your professors, Grinnell is the best place to be.
As a science major, we have a lot of really cool toys to play with. Although we do not have the most high-tech toys that big universities might have, we are given 100% access to pretty much everything around here. That means I get to work on a multi-hundred-thousand dollars Xray Spectroscopy machine, the giant telescope out in the observatory, etc.
The downside--homework is a real bitch. For every credit of class (16 credit is the normal load), expect to spend 3 hours outside for homework, officially. In reality, expect to up to 6 hours on homework per credit of class taken, and a few more for studying, and then some more to meet with the prof. On a project weeks, sleep is a rare occasion.
CHALLENGING! Academic life is tough. Especially since it seems that most people at Grinnell live to challenge themselves and almost work themselves to death. Stress usually runs high Sunday through Thursday but most people are able to relax on the weekends.
Professors are great. Every prof I have had knows my name, and I am pretty close with all of my math profs, as well as several physics profs.
Students study frequently (sometimes it feels as though every spare moment is either in the library or some academic building) but are never opposed to a study break. Intellectual conversations are incredibly common outside of class, though usually it involves a late-night dorm hall conversation about religion or philosophy or politics... and then you KNOW you belong at Grinnell. Sometimes dining hall conversations can also become academically heavy, but usually friends will laugh it off because meal chats are generally more light-hearted and joking.
The math major is challenging and the math department is fantastic. I know many other majors and we all do work together (this is generally encouraged in departments like math, physics, chem... anything where there are regular problem sets). There is a math department picnic in the fall and spring and over the summer, many opportunities for research with members of the department. The picnic is especially fun; professors bring their families and everyone eats and talks (sometimes nerdy math stuff) and has a great time.
Students are competitive (most high-achievers are to some extent) but not usually with each other. It is more of a competition with oneself, trying to do better on this upcoming exam than the last one... improving the paper by a letter grade, never trying to do better than that girl across the room.
Academic requirements are interesting -- no core classes or distribution requirements beyond first year tutorial (and 3 classes in each division in order to graduate with honors or study abroad, which is really not THAT difficult).
I think that the education at Grinnell is geared toward doing whatever the student wants to do; there are so many resources, the students just need to know how to take advantage of them all.
If I were to change one thing, I would have smaller class sizes.
The great thing about a small school is that the Professors know who you are and are always willing to help with whatever you are working on in or outside of class. Academics are more difficult here than at other colleges and require about 1.5-2 hours of studying for every hour spent in class. Of course, if you take good notes in most classes, studying does not take that much time. Not everyone is vocal during classes but a good majority of people are, of course that makes class more interesting because so many people have different opinions and it makes the classes go by faster. There are not a lot of lecture courses here which is great. The requirements here are not unrealistic but very open to letting you pursue your major but still take other unrealted "fun" classes as well. Grinnell sends a large of students to grad school, though I hear it is not difficult to get a job coming out of Grinnell either.
Not enough can be said about the quality of the professors at Grinnell College, in short though, they are all qualified and dedicated. The teaching staff isn't just helpful, they are often as engaged in the campus community as the students. Classes never reach more than 30 students in size and they are always taught by professors, unlike at larger schools. Grinnell is unique in that is doesn't have any general requirements for graduation and this allows for students to explore various courses of study and really take advantage of the liberal arts education offered here.
Most classes are small. I've never heard of a class being larger than 30 people, and so the student-teacher relationships here are great. You are always being taught by an actual professor, and therefore it's pretty much guaranteed that they will know your name. There is consistently a lot of in-class participation, as well as outside projects and random conversations continuing in-class discussions. I remember one time at lunch when my roommate had just come from Philosophy and our entire table got into a debate about whether God "thinks."
The academic requirements are really easy to fulfill at Grinnell because of one reason: there's only one required class. That's the freshman tutorial, a class that gets you up to speed on college-level writing, and it's only for the first semester of your freshman year. After that, it's up to you.
all night! alright!
Classes are small. The largest lecture-based classes are around maybe 30 people. Professors know your name if you make even the slightest effort. I've taken mostly maths/science classes, so I don't know much about discussion-based classes. In the Chemistry department, though, every professor I've met seems to respect students and enjoy interacting with them.
The difficulty of the academics depends a lot on the professors and the courses you take, but overall I would say Grinnellians are very studious. Everyone pretends not to be overwhelmed, but sometimes they are. Luckily, everyone will know what you're talking about when you complain about this.
A big difference I've noticed between Grinnell and larger schools is that students are not competitive against each other. They like to do well, but they are more likely to collaborate with you for mutual benefit than undercut you in some way.
In general, the students here like learning for its own sake, but are thinking about jobs too. A lot of people go on to grad school or do some intense community service (i.e. Teach For America, Peace Corps, etc.) after graduation. There are lots of people willing to talk to you about future plans.
We rock the tutorial.
Academics kick your butt here... it's really hard... students study a lot, but we have free time, or at least we schedule it for fun things. My professors all call me by my first name, even professors I don't have... and I call them by their first names. Most of the professors here will get together outside of class to talk about anything, even to meet in the campus pub for a department even! Even though the academics are really tough, Grinnell's students aren't competitive, and everyone seems really excited just to learn.... that is especially evident when I'm in the dining hall, and I have conversations with my friends about current events, or their reading for class they found particularly interesting.
really demanding but the professors are very understanding and always willing to help. there is no reason anyone should fail a class if they put the work in.
my least favorite class was linear algebra and my favorites are symbolic logic and organic chemistry
You will feel like the stupidest person at Grinnell. It is impossible not to be in awe of just how brilliant your classmates are-- and the truly beautiful thing is that everyone feels this way; students appreciate each others' strengths rather than being arrogant about what they themselves do well. The professors are amazing and care about each and every student, and classes are so fascinating and thought-provoking that you wish you could spend more time in class!
Well first semester was a rocky start for me, I got injured during swim/dive season and was out of sports as well as class for some time. Academics were not at their all time high for me first semester. Things have definitely gotten better and more professors are open and willing to communicate if I'm having problems. My least favorite class would probably have to have been spanish, it was so fast paced and not necessarily hard to keep up but definitely a challenge to juggle all that tetious work on top of plenty of reading and writing for my other classes. And in relation to conversations outside of class with both profs. and students there are many intellectual convos. Sometimes sitting at dinner its almost funny to hear students talk about class when its supposed to be break time outside of class. Makes me giggle but then i just realize hey, its grinnell haha.
I love how Grinnell has no requirements outside your major. I don't have to mess with any Gen. Ed. classes that I would find uninteresting. The classes are challenging and require a lot of work. The class sizes are small, usually around 20 students, which makes class participation common and professors do know your name. The education at Grinnell seems to me more geared for preparing you for grad, law, or med school rather than getting a job. That's probably why 70% of the student body continues its education after graduating from Grinnell.
Make sure you get the right professors. Some professors here are amazing, while others seem not to care, or they know the subject extremely well and don't know how to teach. The best way to pick the right profs is to ask around. If you don't go to class here, they notice and you are normally penalized for it. My biggest complaint is that they want you to take art classes if you are a science person and science classes when you are an art person.
Academics at Grinnell are hard but worth it. Because there are no core requirements you take classes that you are actually interested in, with other students who are actually interested, with professors who couldn't be more interested in teaching you. Everyone is involved with their academics here and actually enjoying it.
Professors at Grinnell are wonderful. Just like the students, they come in all shapes and sizes, but the large majority of them are actually interested in helping you get the most you can out of your Grinnell experience. In my time here I've built some amazing relationships with professors.
I would say that the academics here are superb. I love the personal interaction with the professors and how they know about you. I also love the class sizes. They are small enought that you are able to have discussions that are meaningful in class. The size allows you to get the personal interaction that is essential for higher learning. Classes are pretty rigorous though, and studying takes up almost all of your time during the weekdays and most of the weekends. While this is not bad because you learn more than you ever thought you would, it can get overwhelming at times.
Academics at Grinnell are three things: 1) demanding, 2) challenging, and 3) your top priority no matter what. There are no core requirements (only a composition tutorial in your first semester is required), the classes you take are dictated by your interests, your major, and what's left over after cuts and closures. The student body is generally not competitive, and professors are very open to helping you with your work. The professors are incredibly intelligent and very approachable, but you usually have to schedule appointments to get help. There is one major caveat: you will have to work hard. Very hard.
The extent to which the community reaches beyond the dorms and into the classrooms is amazing. Professors and students really do interact on a personal level. All of my professors know my name and are in contact frequently.
Profeesors know your name by the second class time. Most all professors at Grinnell are very helpful and willing to answer questions. Grinnellians are known to study a lot. It really depends on the students, in general, I think my friends at grinnell study hard and play hard. Even while outside of class, at lunch or reading in the library is very easy to start intellectual conversations.
All Grinnell students are capable of a high level of academic performance, however the freedom of Grinnell seems to hamper actual output through a very active drug and party scene. While all professors here are accessible, to use that as a reason to come here is very much superficial, you will get out what you put in, and most of us are intellectually capable of getting by with little effort.
The academic structure does not have requirements beyond your chosen major, which transfer's motivation towards and enjoyment of your classes to the individual as they are the agent. Through academic and social freedom, most students are locked into a binge and crash cycle. Discussing academic and intellectual issues is very common during social activities because of sheer exposure, the school compensates for its rural setting by continuously holding academic symposia, there is literally a talk of some sort to go to any day you choose to. The academic life is all we have to do here.
My favorite classes obviously fall within my majors anthropology and religious studies. However, students are encouraged to take classes outside of their major and outside their general area (ex. outside the humanities or languages). Students are also encouraged to study abroad and I think about 2/3 do at some point.
The education strategy is definitely geared toward both learning for learning's sake and a career. It seems like Grinnell students typically go on to some kind of post-undergraduate schooling (graduate school) or service (Peace Corps, Teach for America). I like that students are encouraged to do these things instead of having the pressure to get well-paying job immediately following graduation. I think that the professors understand that a job is important and they want to prepare you for it, but they also want to make sure you are immersed in the world and take advantage of the opportunities that are there.
Academics are tough, but when you find what you are looking for, you can enjoy things and it becomes a lot easier. Grinnell is more of a learn for learning sake kinda school. Professors tend to make themselves every available and open to students. It is a regular thing to have dinner at profs homes, or go out to dinner as a class.
I like academics here, although they are often extremely rigorous. Professors here find out what's impossible for you, then they place the bar about a notch or two below it. Therefore, they expect a lot from you, but they understand your capabilities and trust that you're able to do it. Once you increase your abilities, they shift up the bar.
Because of the small size, class sizes are often no bigger than 25. Professors often learn of your name, but not all are that friendly. Sometimes, office hours are inaccessible, or just plain old incompatibility gets in the way.
There is competition, but it's often not in the same form as it was in many high schools. Students care about their grades, but they understand that a B in Grinnell is an A in millions of other schools. Also, they don't care about getting the .01 point above the rest of the class; yes, they want their friends to do well, but it's not everything.
Classes are very personal. Teachers know their students well. My tutorial class bonded well and is having a reunion dinner soon with our professor. The professors are genuinely interested in seeing a student grow and learn. They will often come support students at events outside of the classroom. As a volleyball player, I enjoy seeing professors at the game and knowing that they are interested in their students' lives. There is a level of respect given to the professor from a student that clearly marks the distinction between professor and student, but there is also a level of casualness and comfort that creates a sense of friendship and equality. The classes at Grinnell are interesting and challenging. It is nice have small classes that are based more on student discussion rather than large lectures that consist of a professor speaking the whole time. Teachers grade fairly hard here, and students who used to be straight A students find it hard to accept that getting straight A's isn't as easy at Grinnell. However, students learn to value the experience more than the grade, and they realize that just being a Grinnell graduate will open up many opportunities.
All profs have known my name. Yes, class participation is common. Generally an open minded, not competitive student body.
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