Almost all my professors know my name. Even the large core classes which everybody takes at the same time freshman year are broken up into smaller sections. The introductory macroeconomics class I'm taking has about 60 people and the professor doesn't know my name, but that's rare. In general, how much I like a class is simply related to how much I like the material. I love my computer science and math classes- I don't like freshman chemistry or humanities 1, but that's because I just don't like chemistry and hum 1 was a ton of writing. Computer Science 60 stands out as a particularly well run class The professors are extremely available. Usually I'm kind of stubborn, but on occasion I've gone to look for help on an assignment and I've never had trouble finding a professors. They also set up extensive tutoring hours by upperclassmen for many of the core classes. The core curriculum is very broad and demanding- they do a lot to get everyone through it. As for intellectual conversations outside of class- yes, yes, YES! The variety of topics we talk about outside of class is astounding. Quantum physics is always good breakfast conversation, and my roommate and suite mate talk about philosophy a lot. We spend hours upon hours doing homework and studying, and then when we're done we still want to talk about science. Finally, the education is what you make of it. Most of the people here appreciate knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and a lot of us go on to grad school. However, there is senior clinic which is a real world project and helps prepare people for industry. Really, it prepares you for both.
There is not a class at Harvey Mudd where the professor does not at least know your name. The largest classes are split up to smaller recitations run by professors (who went to the same lecture you did) to make sure that you get personal attention. Professors have office hours all the time and answer emails even later. We even eat and socialize with our professors out of class. The workload is rigorous. Some students handle it better than others, but I have spoken to some who pulled all-nighters once a week for a whole semester. The grading curve is ungenerous bordering on sadistic. Exact numbers depend on who you ask, but fewer than 10 students in the history of the school have graduated with a 4.0. Outside of class, students are not competative at all. We always help each other. We don't have that many conversations about our actual classes outside of class (short of studying), but we talk about intellectual topics all the time. Though we all want to get into good jobs and graduate programs (and we expect them upon graduating) the Harvey Mudd education is less professional than other tech schools. The school wants us to be well balanced people. That results in a third of classes devoted to humanities and social sciences and another third to a common core that all students take.
I'd say 90% of my professors know my name. I love my digital engineering course. I wan't excited about taking it, but have grown to love it. I probably spend 12 hours on homework a week for the class, but it is still my favorite. I have learned so much. My least favorite class is electrical engineering, the professor is not a good teacher. He is well qualified, and smart, but he should not be a teacher. This is one thing that disappoints me about the school, some teachers are here because of their research. All mudd students have intellectual conversations outside of class, if you don't like that, don't come here. Students are surprisingly not competitive, this is due to the schools emphasis on teamwork and cooperation. I do spend time with teachers outside of class, mostly getting help on homework. The requirements are a little insane, I take 6 classes every semester, which is normal and necessary to graduate in four years. The core classes are killer and I am just finishing core as a sophomore. The engineering program is definitely geared towards getting a job, it is a general engineering degree so that you graduate a well rounded scientist. There is also the clinic program where an outside company hires mudd students to do a project, so you get work experience before you graduate.
While the professors are really good about getting to know the students and teach the classes well, there are just not enough specialization classes. There are absolutely inane humanities requirements. They take away from science classes, which are the only important ones. In this way, the college takes away from our preparedness for graduate school by making us waste time and money in useless classes. This was a mistake on my part because I should have thought this through more carefully before choosing this place (by early decision no less). If I were to take 5 tech courses this semester without any humanities crap wasting my time, I'd do a lot better and be a lot happier. The administration has also imposed even more idiotic distribution requirements. This means someone like me who shows some sort of interest towards environmental policy has to waste away in things like philosophy courses. Said courses are COMPLETELY irrelevant to me becoming a good materials scientist. People go to college so that they can be useful members of society and this definitely detracts from that. All in all the humanities program is really whack.
The academics are very rigorous but also very intellectually stimulating. Harvey Mudd has a huge core: 3 semesters of physics (Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, Mechanics, Electricity and Magnitism), 2 semester of physics lab, 4 semesters of math (Calculus, Vector Calculus, Linear Algebra, DE's, Stats), A intro humanities class, 2 semster of chemistry, 2 semester of chem lab, an intro bio class, an intro computer science course, a systems and signals engineering class, everyone must take all these classes no matter what their major is. We are also required to take 1/3 of our classes in the humanities. Most students do most of their work is groups which is encouraged by the faculty. My favorite class thus far has been Discrete Math (but I really have be secretive when I talk about this subject...). We do a unit in counting, number theory and graph theory. I had always heard people talking about number and graph theory but had never known what they were talking about sp it was good to finally learn. Everyone at Mudd is required to write a thesis or do a clinic project before they graduate.
I personally know every professor in my department (Computer Science) and at least one professor in every other department at Mudd ("Humanities", Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematics, and Engineering). Not every class is perfect, but most are excellent, providing an interactive learning environment that encourages questions and interaction with the professors. The supportive student climate means that you can get help almost any time from your peers, and the trusting relationship between students and professors is a great thing. The academic requirements are extremely tough: classes in each of the departments mentioned above, a major in one of them, and what ammounts to a minor in "humanities" which gets spread across at least six different disciplines. I've enjoyed the depth and bredth, however, and to some degree I pity people who haven't studied some of the sciences that I have: the bredth of my knowledge gives me a unique perspective on my field and the ability to work with and understand other fields.
Everyone one of my professors knows my name, my hobbies, and sadly knows when I have missed his/her class. Academics are generally hard. Very hard. Students are encouraged to work in groups for many assignments and many tests are take-home style. If you don't generally work with other students (I don't) then academics get much harder... The problem with "doing well" at HMC is this: When you take a test, you are up against many smart people. Because of this, tests are generally very difficult. If you know 99% of the material you may get a 90%. If you know 95% of the material you may get a 75%. If you know 90% of the material you may get a 60%....etc. Students are competitive with themselves, not typically with other students. Say goodbye to the days of straight A's. That said, the professors are amazing and generally are very helpful. They often have office hours and are approachable.
Amazing. Very Intense. Divided into 3 areas, Humanities, Core and Major Specific. The core is where everyone starts out. Taking classes with all other freshmen really facilitates making friendships, and working together. You WILL need help with homework. The core prepares you for the rest of your learning in science and math as they are interconnected. About a third of your classes must be humanities classes and they must span all aspects of humanities. This is what separates us from other tech schools Caltech, MIT, etc. The other 5Cs have great humanities programs, and the sheer amount of classes to choose from is a little over whelming. The smallness of the school really affects the classroom. Knowing all your peers makes for a better environment, and you will know professors personally whether you want to or not.
Their are no graduate students! So all the professors' attention is on you! You will have the opportunity to do research with them and independent studies and hang out in their offices. As a Home Schooled student, I was used to a very close relationships with my instructors so this school was perfect. There are some larger lectures, especially for the core courses, but then you have recitation sections that consist of about 12 students each and a professor. Classes get smaller, of course, as you take more upper-division courses. You don't have to declare your major until Fall semester sophomore year (and even then it can be flexible). I started out as an engineer, but decided to declare mathematics after taking some classes and talking with engineering students and professors.
The one word to describe Mudd's academics is INTENSE. Academics are a 24/7 pursuit. It's not uncommon to be incredibly drunk and still be discussing your current class or project. The professors are one of the best parts of Mudd. Almost all of them are here because they really enjoy teaching undergrads. They will make an effort to get to know you and help you - they want you to succeed. In addition, most of the professors are involved with student clubs or other activities on campus. I've been invited to professor's houses, played sports with them, and even partied with a few of them. The engineering major can be very frustrating for those who don't want to do mechanical or electrical engineering. For chemical or bioengineers, the course selection is often limited.