Academics are very typical for a small liberal arts school. Professors teach because they love to teach and are there for their students (as opposed to doing research and having TAs teach their classes). Of course they know your name and if you're close to them, they probably know even more about you than that. Classes generally require a good amount of work and studying to excel in, so again, despite the high acceptance rate, Hendrix isn't an easy, blow-off type of school. There's also generally quite a bit of class participation, but then again, this depends on the class and your fellow students and whether or not everyone has done the reading. My department is tiny (like everything else in this school), though all of the professors I've encountered have been nothing but kind and gracious towards me and ready to help whenever I needed them. Looking back, I think that I would've preferred being in a larger school with a larger department and more resources, but the professors here I definitely wouldn't trade for anything. I think my entire philosophy of education is at odds with the liberal arts model, based on what I've observed at other universities during my time abroad. Where I'm currently studying abroad, the universities work very differently. Students enter a major/career and specialize in that one thing (e.g. history teacher, sociologist, researcher in the sciences, math teacher, lawyer, doctor, etc) for around 5 years, so when they finish university, they're hyper-prepared in their field. They don't spend time taking gen-ed classes or classes that have nothing to do with their chosen major. There are definitely downsides to this (what if you don't know what you want to do at 18? for example), but I feel like if I had gone through this system, I would be way more prepared for graduate school than I am now. So, definitely, this school is geared toward "learning for its own sake," and geared around the entire liberal arts model of having some kind of knowledge about a range of subjects rather than specializing in one thing. There are quite a few gen-ed requirements, though I'm sure you could work them into your major/minor somehow.
Academics at Hendrix play to the school motto, "Unto the whole person." It's a liberal arts school, so the general education courses (we call them "learning domains") are diverse and numerous. Even within departments, there is a lot of diversity. For my German minor, I've studied both ancient poetry and contemporary film. The nice thing is that classes tend to be small (around 15-20 students is probably average), which is especially nice when you are taking courses outside your major, so that you can get extra help. In smaller classes especially, discussion takes up the majority of class time. Participation from students is an expectation, and professors will hold you to it. Even in larger classes, there will often be discussions, and professors always allow time for questions. On that note, professors are very attentive to their students. Several of my professors have given me their home and/or cell phone numbers so that they can be reached even if they're not at their office, and it is not uncommon to hang out with professors outside of class. I have had dinner at more than one professors' home, and professors can often be seen at campus events. The curriculum at Hendrix is also very focused on experiential learning. Because of the Odyssey Program, it is now a graduation requirement to complete 3 extensive hands-on projects. Students can choose from 6 categories - service to the world, undergraduate research, artistic creativity, global awareness, professional & leadership development, and special projects (a catch-all category). The requirements vary for each category, but students can apply for funding for their projects and all students have advisors for each project, to offer guidance.
I'm not going to lie, Hendrix is a tough school. Freshmen year may seem like a breeze to some depending on the classes you take, but once you move on up into higher level courses that are specific to your major, life becomes increasingly difficult. I am proud to say, however, that Hendrix employs some of the best, most dedicated faculty in the country. These professors are personable, helpful, and every single one of them will go out of their way to make sure you understand the material they are trying to teach you. For example, I took organic chemistry last year as a requirement for my Biochemistry/Molecular Biology major. Dr. Tom Goodwin, my professor, schedule hour long help sessions for 4 out of 5 days during the week for students to come and ask him specific questions. In addition to these help sessions, there were tutor sessions every night and if you needed one-on-one help, Dr. Goodwin would always make time during the day to meet with you and explain whatever you did not understand. This is just one example. I have a similar example for pratically every class I have taken while at Hendrix. The faculty at this school is the main reason why I am here and I will be the first to admit that I am receiving the highest quality of education that I could possibly imagine.
The academic life was one of the main reasons I came to Hendrix. There are so many academic options, and if you can't find let's say a major that fits you well, you can make your own through Interdisciplinary Studies. I love that I can walk around campus and say hi to every one of my professors and that they will know my name. But cool, so do professors at other schools. What makes Hendrix so special in this area? You professors will have conversations about you about your life, how you are doing, delve into those deep questions you were too afraid to ask in class, watch the youtube videos you send them, and some will even bring you soup when you are sick. The point is, the professors here care. They care about your academics, your progress, and your life in general. We love to learn here, and that drew me to Hendrix because I am an inner nerd that saves her Ancient Philosophy reading to read last because I love it so much that I want to end my night with it. That said, Hendrix is a challenging school. Get ready for difficult readings, long papers, hours of homework and studying, and to be mentally exhausted. But don't freak out about this! There are a multitude of resources on campus to help you achieve. No one wants to see you fail, your professors included.
Hendrix academics, as I mentioned in the stereotypes section, have a reputation of being quite difficult. This is true in part. My experience has been that classes at Hendrix are designed to challenge you. Professors assign lots of work, but every assignment is designed to improve your grasp of the material being taught. Professors are completely available to students, a phenomena that I think stems from Hendrix being a small college. Professors frequently give students their cell phone numbers, and many encourage calls even in the absence of an emergency. Small class sizes allow professors to meet with students for coffee or hold review sessions at their homes. Professors go out of their way to prepare students for life after college, with support systems in place for grad school application, MCAT and LSAT prep, undergraduate research, job placement and much more.
You will work your butt off as a student here. Hendrix is an academic institution, and our workload is reflective of that. We only take four classes per semester because the load is so heavy. Professors know your name, so it's really awkward when you're in a class with just 7 other people and haven't done the reading. Thus, you do the reading. Students are driven to succeed, but not at each other's expense; pressure to succeed comes from yourself, so we aren't constantly trying to academically out-do each other. We study in groups and individually, and we're big on helping each other out when we don't understand something in class. That notwithstanding, there's free tutoring offered by the school, and many classes have tutors assigned just for those students. Sweet!
Academic life is really important to almost all Hendrix students. Few people rely solely on their intelligence to skate by in classes, and instead work diligently to do well and truly understand the material. Class participation is very important to most professors, and you will not be able to skip classes unnoticed. Amount of homework really depends on the classes one is taking - it can be anywhere from 2-5 hours a night if one doesn't procrastinate. Students frequently talk about class topics outside of class, both with their peers and with their professors. Professors are totally open to helping students and are very easy to get in touch with.
All I can say is that Hendrix afforded me such an incredible education that I was able to get into all eight of the graduate schools to which I applied (AND received merit-based financial aid), including three Ivy League institutions. I loved that I could count on my professors whenever I needed anything, whether it was a grad school recommendation, help reviewing for a test, or taking a test early because I had to travel for volleyball. It's pretty common to walk past the Pecan Grove and see students at the tables talking about a plethora of topics: what happened over the weekend, the big test they just finished, or continuing a discussion from an earlier class. Many classes, when the time is appropriate, will venture outside to the Outdoor Classroom. You can sit in the Pecan Court (yes, different than the Pecan Grove, but they are bookends of the Brick Pit) and have class outside, truly taking in the beautiful trees and buildings Hendrix houses.