Professors you have had in class, and even some you haven't, know your name. In small classes, it is fairly simple to remember everyone, but in larger classes you have to make an effort to connect. Fortunately, the largest class is about 100 people, and most are much less (about a fifth the size). So far, the classes have all been educational, which is essential since I am here to learn. :) They have not always been fun (especially the beginning classes that you need to advance in the field, but are not what you are interested in), but I have learned a lot. Professors usually find a way to make classes relevant and encourage student participation, especially taking advantage of office hours. Kenyon students know how to have fun outside class, but I have also had many academic discussions about class topics, politics, current events, or an article from the New York Times. Although most students are excited to show off their knowledge and be successful, there is not much competition between students. Students are more supporting with each other, though they may be competitive with themselves. I am majoring in psychology. I love my adviser and I am excited to take more upper-level courses next year. I like requirements that you need to take classes in all disciplines (Art, Natural Science, Social Science, Humanities), but I am not fond of the depth requirements. Instead of trying a lot of everything, Kenyon prefers that you take one unit in one department in each of the four disciplines before graduating. This is difficult for me, since I am taking a lot of natural science courses and do not have much time left to complete my major, take the courses I am interested in, and finish art credits. Overall, I think classes are aimed at learning for its own sake, but at the same time this prepares you for fields you are interested in.
The professors know who you are very quickly, since many of the classes are small. There's a lot of studying that goes on here since the level of academic excellence they expect you to be at is high. The academic advisers for the most part are helpful as well, though I have heard stories from people whose advisers are unhelpful. Class participation is very common, especially in seminars. In a way, most people are competitive, but it's never verbally discussed, as are grades. Intellectual conversations take place anywhere at anytime. There's never a dull moment when it comes to talking politics or philosophy. I love my seminar on the Black Public Sphere this semester because it takes a topic people rarely hear of and looks at it from different angles. The writing portion is hard, but it's a skill we need to learn. Kenyon's academic requirements aren't too bad. I don't have to take math or English or chemistry anymore. I plan to major in International Studies and Sociology. The Sociology program is awesome, but I don't like that you cannot focus on an established area of the world (i.e. Western Europe) for International Studies, so I've had to work my way around that. I wish they would offer minors in languages such as Spanish or French or in Political Science. The education is geared towards more education as well as getting a job.
All of my professors know my name and have had long conversations with me at one point in time. My favorite class was Quest for Justice (a freshman class) because it allowd me to agrue and explore a plethera of different subjects politically. My least favorite class was economics with Longbreak. I love econ, but he was a mediocre teacher at best. Don't worry, hes gone. Students study a good amount, especially during finals and midterms. Aka the library is packed. Students have intellectual conversaitons out side of class if they want to. Especially in the spring. And yes, most Kenyon students are driven which tends to imply competative. But not in a mean or bad way, just push each other to do well. Class participation is expected and required. My major is political science and they are the most interesting and thought provoking classes in my opinion. But I am biased. I have gone out to coffee with my professors before and its not uncommon for them to throw parties at the end of the semesters with the students. Kenyons academic requirements are challenging and difficult. Don't apply if yu want an easy ride. Kenyon is more geared for learnng for its own sake.
Academics at Kenyon are close-knit and very important. Everyone at Kenyon has some kind of academic pursuit that they care about, and you do find kids having conversations about classes at dinner tables or even parties - discussing the Civil Rights Movement or the merits of a stream-of-conscience narrative over beers. Professors are laid-back and honestly care about getting to know students, especially in upper-level classes. I've found them all to be very helpful during office hours, even if you're a non-major, if you put work and time into the class. Participation if very common, but the academic atmosphere is friendly. My favorite classes have been in the history department - Roman history and African American history, and also Creative Fiction (short story writing). The education is the part of Kenyon that I value the most (and the reason I haven't transferred) - it's a true, classic liberal arts education that is not pre-professionally geared, but for the sake of learning itself. That said, I would NOT recommend the freshmen IPHS class.
The academics are great!!! They're what originally attracted me to the school and out of 19 professors, I've only had 1 I didn't get along with. Even classes I had to take for requirements weren't bad at all because the professors are so knowledeable about their field that they really try to make the students excited to learn about what they're interested in. The 18 professors I've gotten along with have always been willing to help me out when needed. I recommend any class by Tazewell for drama, and I've heard Kramer is excellent as well. Lester and Reinhert are also very enjoyable and knowledgeable!! For English, I've had Mason, Matz, and Mankoff, and they're all been incredible. Some people get competitive about grades, but no more than at other schools. I'd say the most competetive aspect of Kenyon is getting into the classes you want. English and Art can be difficult (unless you're a major). Also, music groups and plays are competetive to get into, but if you're persistent and get your face out there it's totally possible to do.
Professors here are great. The majority of the classes here are twenty people or under, but even in the larger classes the professors make an effort to know your name. And they all have office hours where you can go in to talk about an assignment, a test, or just to chat. One time I went into my creative writing professor's office and he ended up pulling out journals he had from when he was a little kid and we swapped tales about the ridiculous stories we'd written as kids. Pair that with my /Paradise Lost/ teacher, a class with about 70 people in it, who knew my name when I went into his office and said to me as I was leaving, "Ms. Day, please forgive me for poking fun at you, it's all in good spirits." Almost every professor I've ever taken a class with still remembers me and says hello to me around campus. They probably know their students so well because class participation is a big focus here--teachers often don't lecture all the time, but instead insist on students adding their opinion and occasionally engaging in debate.
I love the academics here at Kenyon... and the fact that students actually care about their classes! In high school my friends would give me a hard time for putting so much work into my homework assignments, but here that's expected of you. That being said, classes are challenging, but definitely not overbearing. They're doable. Class sizes are very small. Even as a freshman, my largest class size is an Intro Psych class with about 25 students. Classes are interactive and engaging. In high school I had problems paying attention to teachers lecture, but at Kenyon I have no problem with that. All of my professors know me by name, even in the classes that I don't participate in as often. Kenyon's requirements are very easy to work with. There are a few general requirements, but they're very flexible! For instance, I'll probably never take an English class here (even though Kenyon is known for it's English department!), because Spanish fulfills my humanities requirement.
Professors do seem to know my name; I wish I was less memorable. My favorite class was my smallest: Mystic Philosophy, 7 students. My least favorite was also philosophy, with 20 students. Class participation depends on the attitude of the students, the professors, the courseloads, the time of day, lot of stuff. It's certainly encouraged by most professors. They don't want to talk the whole class. My department is a pain, I really hate it. The teachers are kind and brilliant and wonderful when you talk to them in office hours. I just wish their office hours were the only parts of them I were exposed to. I wish Kenyon made it's academic requirements more visible from the beginning of our studying here, or at least that all of it was available online. It seems like cheating for it not to be on the registrar's site.
Classes are small. I've yet to have a class with more than 22 students, and many classes are much smaller. The professors are great; they all have lots of office hours which students are encouraged to come to. The atmosphere is probably not as competitive at comparable colleges; student work hard for the sole purpose of learning. The difficulty of the grading varies a lot from major to major and professor to professor. Some classes are an easy A-, while others require a lot of hard work just to get a B. Sciences tend to be harder than humanities and fine arts.
Professors do get to know your name. One of the things that I like about Kenyon is that I run into my Professors as I am walking down Middle Path, or going to the KAC, or grabbing a bite at Middle Ground. They are definitely part of the community. We always stop and chat for a few minutes when we run into each other. If you take a seminar class (7-15 tudents) there is a good chance that you will go to their house for dinner. I have found that my most intellectual conversations happen at the oddest times: close to MIdnight surrounded by a group of friends.