Classes at JHU are very rigorous. Unlike the Ivy Schools, there is no grade inflation. People really have to work hard for an A and strive to achieve a good GPA. Nevertheless, the classes are manageable and are not that much work. While some people say certain majors are much easier than others, there is the unanimous agreement that Organic Chemistry is not an easy or enjoyable class. Some of the introductory political science classes such as Contemporary International Politics and International Politics, are among student favorites, despite the fact that the large lecture is full with around 300 students. Just as the introductory science classes draw huge crowds, so too do the introductory economics classes. These large classes can be intimidating-- especially if you want to talk to the professor. The good thing is, when you have such a large class you also have a section that is basically a review of lecture taught by the TA (teaching assistant). Sections can vary in size from as small as 5 people to as large as twenty. Having the teaching assistant can be very helpful as a liasion, and rather then ask the professor questions you can first ask the teaching assistant and if your question cannot be answered it can be referred to the professor. The professors are all very knowledgeable and are experts in their fields. This too may be intimidating, but if you ask questions most are very understanding and nice. However, you typically do not see professors outside of class, with the exception of a few special campus events or at lectures in related fields. Some professors may be more geared to teaching than others. For example, in one of my higher level economics classes we played a class wide game where the winning groups won ten dollars each. There was another time in class when my professor auctioned off old CD's to demonstrate the different types of auctions. While the introductory classes may be boring, they also can be particularly interesting. Classes in archaeology, english, and bioethics draw people from all types of majors. Freshmen year, is likely to be filled with introductory classes, but by the time you are a second semester sophomore, you are highly likely to get into the classes you want to take including the smaller, more intimate classes. JHU is a great combination of job-orientated classes and classes for the sake of intellectual enlightenment. While a business school was recently founded, students have had the opportunity to take more buisness-like classes for the last couple of years with a minor being offered in Entreprenuership and Management. This minor offers classes in law, finance, and communications and is a great option for people who want to get an idea of the different careers they may want to puruse after college. Besides the pre-med classes and this entreprenuership minor, most of the classes are geared towards learning for its own sake and pure intellectual enlightenment. Outside of class, it is not uncommon to hear people discuss concepts learned in class. In fact, in some of my philosophy classes it is almost laughable to hear the conversations people have. The discussions are so abstract and may sound pretentious, but this enthusiasm for knowledge can be very refreshing. In fact, a large percentage of students do research off-campus and puruse their own intellectual pursuits at the hospital, public health school, or at other organizations in the city. Students at JHU love to learn, and are open about their opinions and views.
Yes, every single one of my professors has known my name. I love almost all of my classes. That is because I take mostly Writing and English classes. Right now I am obsessed with this tiny 3-person seminar. I love every single one of my writing workshop classes; my teachers are so wise. Yes, it is pretty commong. I only try to be friends with people who can, on occasion, have intellectual conversations. Not all the time, (because frequently we talk about food, or sex, or complain) but lots of times when we're drunk we discuss Deleuze, Abstract Expressionism and Henry James. Also the scientists love to battle the Near Eastern Studies kids. Some are, yes. When it's LSAT time, I want to hide, and avoid all future lawyers like the plague. But it's bad form among more normal people to EVER discuss GPAs and to some degree board scores. I love the Writing Seminars department. My teachers are AMAZING critics of my work and everyone else's work. Dave Smith has a Pulitzer, Alice McDermott is superfamous, Jessica Anya Blau is getting her first rave-review novel out this May...they are so fantastic. My classmates are mostly dumb. There are about 3-4 good writers per year. The 100 other people are just blobbing around, trying to "express" themselves and write about New York, teen pregnancy scares, and successful media personalities going through complicated divorces. Um, yes. I used to spend too much time with them, to the point that I spend time more reliably with professors whose classes I wasn't even taking than with my "friends." We have coffee, that's pretty much it. I really like them. No core, take some science classes, some b.s. social science classes, then the rest as you please. JHU seems to think that after graduation, Arts& Sciences kids are only capable of becoming a) Consultants b) Finance workers. There is, like, one class geared to either of these occupations. No one ever says, "You'll need to know this for a job" in class (well, except in really practical classes, like Social Statistics or Computer Fluency). I want to become a social worker and the school has nooooooo resources for that. I don't blame them, though. With writers especially, learning is for its own sake.
Your personal academic experience at Hopkins really depends on what you study. I started out at Hopkins focusing on pre-medical studies (like many young undergrads at Hopkins), and I found all of my classes to be very large (200-300+). The quality of the professor also ranged from the cliche "focused on research and couldn't care less about students", to "truly dedicated and helpful professors that will do anything to assist you". In general however, I have found many students share a similar sentiment that it feels like most Hopkins professors do everything in their power to give you the lowest grade possible and make your academic success as difficult to achieve as possible. Students must assert themselves in order to develop a relationship with the professor and to make themselves known so that the professor might give them an easier time. Other departments have much smaller class sizes, and therefore more intimate (bad word choice?) relationships with their professors. For example, an extremely popular among freshman writing credit course offers a maximum class size of around 15 or so even though hundreds take the course each semester. Therefore class size also depends on what department the course is in. One of my majors is a new major offered by Hopkins, and one that I believe to be a relatively unique course of study. The Global Environmental Change & Sustainability (GECS) major is a multidisciplinary major that incorporates courses in political science, economics, living and non-living earth sciences and environmental science with a 'green' approach, preparing graduates for a generation that will surely revolve around ideas of sustainability and energy conservation. Matched with my other major, Economics, I hope to have a broad knowledge base to enter the world of commerce prepared to deal with the new sustainable and green business ventures that are sure to dominate the 21st century.
Academics are super important at Johns Hopkins. Students take their studies extremely seriously and study all the time. To prove this, JHU is building an extension to the library rather than a student center which we do not have. Students are super competitive and some will even refuse to help another with something as simple as homework. Everyone tries to get ahead. There are a variety of different types of classes. There are big ones and small ones ranging from 8 students all the way to 400. Because of these different sizes, there are lectures, seminars, sections, labs, etc. Some professors are nicer than others. Some take the time to get to know you and others do not. Class participation is important only in some classes but I always make an effort to say something every class. My favorite class has been the Italian Language classes I've taken since Freshman year. They are really small and concentrated and the professors take the time to really get to know you and your strengths and weaknesses when learning the language. The most unique class I have taken, however, was an Intersession class about photography and Baltimore titled "Charm City Through the Lens." It took students out to Baltimore and had them explore the city and express it through photographs. I'm majoring in International Studies and the department has been super helpful in all of my endeavors. They give their honest opinion without a second thought. Besides the fact that the competitiveness can get to you and stress you out, education at Hopkins is super challenging and takes a certain amount of self motivation and determination but is definitely proving to be worth it when venturing into the outside world.
Most classes at JHU, once past the intro classes that are typically 100 or more students in size, are fairly small. Some will be no more than 20 students, and many not more than a dozen. Professors learn your names and if you want will interact with you as often as you'd like. That being said, some aren't friendly and some are immensely friendly. The fact that professors are so invested in their classes they expect a lot from you, and most of them being as small as they are you can't skate by easily. Class participation happens a lot, though often times it ends up being simply two or three (sometimes more) people talking and asking questions while everyone else is silent. Some people discuss things outside of class, though some don't like to mix social with academic. I don't spend much time outside of class with my professors personally, though some students do. JHU education is interesting in that the general requirements are minimal. There are no general classes and the few requirements you do have can be filled by any class you'd like that meets the requirement. The departments do have stricter policies on requirements, however those are always geared towards what you need to be a successful student in that major. This gives people a lot of options as to how they build their degree, and it's a great system. The only draw back is students are mostly left to their own discretion about what to take and typically without a good plan someone can easily have to stay an extra year.
Academics are difficult. But it really depends on what major and classes you decide to take. You should really talk to upperclassmen or look at reviews of classes before you take them because there are many lower and upper level distribution requirements that are amazing and you can do well in you just need to find the right ones. The science classes are challenging, so if you are coming here for pre-med it's not going to be easy. People are very competitive in those specific majors. For the humanities majors it seems like the professors are there because they love their subject matter which is really awesome. Whereas for the science and math majors it seems like the professors are more there to do research and many of them are hard to understand because English is not their first language. When people say Hopkins is a research university, they weren't kidding. There are soooo many opportunities to do world-class research here so if that's what you're interested in, don't go anywhere else. My favorite class has been Baltimore and the Wire: a focus on major urban issues. It's a class that focuses on the urban issues present in Baltimore and how we can solve them and connects it back to the TV show - the wire. I'm a Sociology Major and I really love it, the department is well organized and esteemed. The teachers are passionate and helpful and the classes are interested and flexible!
I've really enjoyed my classes at hopkins, but I feel sometimes you have to be a little selective with the courses you take. I've taken some great lectures (particularly some psychology and entrepreneurship and management classes), but I tend to prefer the smaller seminars that are often more advanced. Professors definitely know your name if you take these seminars. My favorite class was a History class about Slavery in the Americas that was actually taught by a graduate student. He was so enthusiastic about the topic and his knowledge was so extensive because it related to his dissertation. I would definitely recommend these classes, which are normally labeled "Dean's Teaching Fellowship Courses." Students, I would say, study alot, because you have to in order to get good grades, but I wouldn't say it takes over their life. Class participation is pretty common, but that depends mostly on the dynamic of a particular class. Students do have intellectual conversations outside of class, mostly about politics. I'm a double major in International Studies and German. I love the IR major because it allows me to take classes in a wide variety of areas, but also to choose a concentration that interests me. I think that Hopkins' academic requirements are good because they give the students a true liberal arts education, which I think is important.
I've heard some tough comments about TAs not speaking fluent English, but I've never had trouble understanding international TAs, and if I did, I was always able to go to them after classes to discuss things until both of us came to term. Maybe I'm a little biased because my native language is not English and I've had experiences with many accents. But then ppl should utilize ppl like me more. I like how you can be as active as you wish in class. Some professors will know your name and sincerely help you out if you contribute positively to class. That's how I got the Lab Manager job at Language Acquisition Lab - I volunteered to be a foreign language consultant in one of Dr. Geraldine Legendre's classes, and eventually she was impressed with both my work there and my grades. When I decided to take a year off to apply to med schools after graduation, I was looking for something academic but not too stressful to do. She spent a night thinking and decided to create the position especially for me. She & her husband Dr. Smolensky, also in the Cog Sci dept, even invited me & a visiting scholar to their Thanksgiving dinner b/c they knew we were far apart from our families. We cooked everything together and had a hearty evening. Too bad the couple's leaving for sabbatical next year.
Academics at Johns Hopkins University are incredibly rigorous. The course work is heavy, and teachers expect you to not only keep up with assignments and attend every lecture, but also expand your knowledge through readings and other recommended activities. Students tend to study a lot at Hopkins, and the library is always full. Because of Hopkins' reputation as such a prestigious university, and because of the difficulty level of the classes, students are very competitive. Many are willing to do whatever necessary to get ahead and stand out from their peers, even if it sometimes requires questionable activities. The classes I have taken thus far have been mainly large lectures, so participation is limited, but other professors make participation a big part of the overall class experience. Despite the difficulty, Hopkins students generally feel a sense of pride with their schoolwork, and take it very seriously. It is not uncommon to hear a conversation about quantum physics or macroeconomics taking place in the cafeteria. It is this passion for learning that makes Hopkins stand out from other universities, and why students at this school tend to be better prepared for life outside of college.
Professors know who you are in seminar classes. Whether they know you in giant lecture classes depends on how many questions you ask them outside of class. Don't be one of those people who has discussions with the Prof in the middle of a 300 person lecture. Class participation in seminars is necessary, not just common, though lectures you can sit on your hands and get by just fine. Students study as much as they need to for the class, but there's a pretty heavy study culture here. There's not much competition in my major (Writing Seminars) other than with oneself, but a friend of mine, while studying for finals, once saw a pair of lost glasses in the library, and in his sleep-deprived delirium thought "Maybe it's someone else in my class! I should break them!" Thankfully, he didn't. JHU has some idiotic distribution requirements, and if you aren't in a reading- or writing-related major I hear the writing requirements can be annoying. Still, I took a lot of good classes for my distribution requirements, so I can't say I hated the whole thing. Science majors get you a job, English, writing and humanities majors get you just as much as they'd get you anywhere else.