Professors will or will not know your name based on your desire to have them know or not know your name. I mean, you will always exist on that sheet of paper and they will definitely know you by facial recognition as the kid who either participates enthusiastically or sits in silence at the back of their class. Oberlin classes are very personal and interactive, which is wonderful for student-teacher relations. But you have to want it, you have to get to know your professor for them to get to know you. I know many students who not only talk with all their professors on a first name basis but have meals with them, babysit their children, and share opinions on why Blood Diamond is worth paying 3$ or not to see at Apollo on the weekend. My favorite class is "Language and the Body", a linguistics anthropology/psychology class taught by a young visiting professor who is engaged with us, enthusiastic, brilliant and interesting. I just recently completed a project where I had to find a "master the mysteries of body language" video on you tube and test out the suggestions and record/analyze and hypothesize about my findings. It was a blast and I learned a lot. My least favorite class was Musical Acoustics, not because it was a bad class but because I let myself down by not preparing enough, missing classes, and procrastinating myself to a bad grade. More or less one of those "can I have a redo?" moments. Students study on a regular basis. Academics here is a very self-motivated system. You can have help in class-outside of class, from students, your professor, your friends, other staff but it ultimately comes down to applying yourself at the end of the day. And students know the importance of that here. You get the most back when you put in the most effort. Students and professors love class discussion, and conversation flows easily in class between professor-student student-student student-professor. Being engaged with the material and asking questions, voicing opinions, and listening are all factors that contribute to the class atmosphere. That goes to say also that students who chose to just observe or are shy exist and do very well here too. It's a great environment for beginning to find yourself and open up more than you have in the past. Intellectual conversation is...everywhere. In the shower, on the toilet, at 7am, noon, and midnight, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in line for the vending machine, or on a treadmill you will likely hear someone discussing gender-politics, the theory of relativity, dante's inferno, or the injustice of napkin dispensers? People here like to talk. They like to learn, they like to hear what other people have to say, and they like to know why they think what they think. However, we also like the Office, and if you want to know what I think about Lindsay Lohans nude photo shoot, we can talk about that too. Competitiveness is one thing, dedication and commitment is another. We don't compete against one another as much as we compete against ourselves. We came here to learn to be the best we can be at what we want to do and we will draw off each others resources to get there. We work together to reach our goals, not climb on top of each other to get there. The most unique class I have taken is Archeology. It was grreat. I don't really have a major/department per say because I'm undecided. I want to be a self-designed graphic arts major and therefore I'm working in a lot of different departments at once. Everyone's just dandy though. I don't spend a lot of time with professors outside of class. Partially because this just isn't my style and also partially because I'm a freshman. I spend a lot of time with my Track/XC coaches though. They're my favorite people. Oberlin's academic requirements are definitely one of the best parts of getting an education here. They don't really "require" so much as "encourage" you to explore diverse fields of knowledge. You have to take at least 9 credit hours in the departments of Humanities, Sciences, and Cultural Diversity. You have a Lot of freedom in what you want to do and where you want to go (the sky is the limit) and it's a lot of work but it's definitely manageable and you have an adviser and other great resources to help you out. The education system here is not geared towards getting a job unless you want it to be. They will help you get wherever you want to go, but the percentage of students who go off to grad school is one of the highest in the nation. I know tons of students who have done and will do incredible things in the workforce, the arts, sciences, abroad, for the environment and for humanity because of what they learned and who they met at Oberlin.
I love Oberlin professors. I have not yet had a professor who I didn't like. I may not have found their lecture style interesting or been annoyed at quirk in their grading style but I have never disliked a professor. Professors here are generally very easy to approach at office hours or if you're just walking by their office and see them in there. I've also been invited to (and accepted) invitations to professors' houses for dinner or end of the year banquets. Even if you're not in a small class (less than 20 students) profs go out of their way to learn your name. I have a professor who I had first semester freshman year remember me and my name on the first day of class this semester (2nd sem junior yr). If I run into a professor from a previous year or semester they remember me and its not uncommon for us to just have a conversation about something either related or unrelated to the topic of the class I took with them. Professors are genuinely interested in seeing students succeed and will often hold review sessions, help a student one on one or set up a student tutor if further help is needed. Academics here are rigorous and challenging. I never feel as if I'm breezing through a class and in my more difficult classes there are always options available for help like review sessions, profs office hours, student study groups, student tutors. There is a lot of freedom in designing your course of study at Oberlin since there aren't any required classes. Instead there are distribution requirements making sure you take a broad range of classes in many different departments. This let me explore some departments I might not have explored otherwise such as the religion and anthropology departments. Even major and minor requirements generally offer a great deal of flexibility. So while there are no concentrations that appear on your transcript if you are interested in plant bio you probably won't take any animal physiology or development courses. But if you're interested in both you can take both animal and plant courses. I do spend a considerable amount of time on school work, especially as I have started taking more upper-level courses but my friends and I always manage to find time to have fun. A really neat program at Oberlin is the Exco program. Exco is the Experimental College in which students, profs, even townspeople can teach classes. There are so many fun things like juggling, swing dancing, horse care, pottery, martial arts, reading Calvin and Hobbs, watching Firefly. You can count 5 Exco credits toward your general graduation total.
In a class of well over a hundred just before his retirement I was amazed that Ron DiChenzo knew my name, but I was on a first name basis with every single one of my professors in College. My favorite class had to be drawing with Todd Scroder, in this class there was a laid back sensibility, a stimulating group of students and a professor who infused literature into the drawing room. My least favorite class was probably chemistry, go figure. Students at Oberlin work hard, look at Mudd or the Sience Center on any given evening, packed with Obies. Class participation depends on the professor and their ability to lecture well, also depends on how much attendence affects the overall grade, and the popularity of the subject. Oberlin students don't tend to be competitive, but I suppose in subjects I had little exposure to, it's possible. The art department was small, but lots of very hard working and incredibly intelligent and talented professors. I enjoyed my time with these individuals, the knowledge they lead me to and the opportunities the skills they taught provided me with. I often met profs for coffee, or spent time with them and their families, but being from Oberlin I also grew up with profs sons or daughters, so I suppose my situation might be a bit different. As I said previously, Oberlin has never- I felt- been interested in gearing students for the real world or jobs, gaduate programs def.
Most of my professors know my name. I love that class sizes are small and we have some really great discussions, provided a professor who's a good facilitator (some of them are really brilliant but not really good at teaching). Sometimes class discussions carry over to outside of class but I wouldn't say it's incredibly common, probably because of the shortage of extroverted people. Oberlin students work hard, but there's a lot of leeway- if you want to make a tough schedule you can, or if you want a light one you can do that too. Students are not competitive at all- your schoolwork is your own business. As long as you take learning seriously no one cares what grades you get. The anthropology department is small but slowly growing. The East Asian Studies department is huge and awesome, whether you're into Japanese or Chinese. But, if you're looking for Korean you should probably look elsewhere. I have pretty much never spent time with profs outside of class, unless I'm going to office hours. Oberlin's academic requirements are very reasonable and allow you to get a great, broad education. Oberlin is very geared toward learning for learning's sake. A lot of students go into non-profit or teaching or writing and things like that. There's an anti-establishment sentiment on campus-- students would rather fight the man than earn a high salary.
Oberlin's a place where you can make really profound relationships with your professors. The classes are small and intimate. Your classmates push you to do better. It's competitive, but not in a malicious way. Everyone wants to keep class interesting. It depends on what you study, but most students at Oberlin work hard because they love what they are studying. There are a lot of discussions about political topics and recent events. My favorite class was The Fungi, a first module class where I learned a lot, got three credits, and got to walk around in the woods mushroom hunting twice a week. What a time! Every Thursday there is professor beers, where you can bring a prof to the 'sco and get free beer. Sad to say, I never did go to one prof. beers. I have gone to my professor's houses before for dinner. I go to office hours a lot just to talk and hang out. The education is mostly geared toward learning for it's own sake. Most people that come out of Oberlin agree that we learn how to think, not how to get and do a job.
My professors were all very good. Usually we're on first name basis with them, even visiting ones. There is a sense of comeraderie and exploration in the classroom, you're never talked down to or even merely at. Teachers are very available at office hours or beyond; they have coffee with you, you'll see them at campus events. Some seem more like friends to me now that teachers almost; I've even gotten to work with some of them and so we're colleagues. Academics can be quite challenging, but you'll work you're way up to it and teachers are usually forthright about what they expect from you for the course. Talk to others who've taken it though. The trick is too balance your time and schedule. It can be very tempting to do too much, too many classes, too many clubs, too many shows; and that can really kill you in the end. Trying things is good, but overkill is not. Students are competitive, but mostly just to better themselves than comparing themselves with others.
Oberlin is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the world, without dispute (the very top in my opinion, though that might be disputable). All of the programs Oberlin has to offer are top-notch, and there is a wide range, especially for such a small school. Oberlin is very strong in the sciences, which is unusual for a small liberal arts college. At the same time, Oberlin is equally strong in the Humanities and Social Sciences, which is unheard of. Oberlin also requires students to complete 9 hours in each division: Social Sciences, Humanities, and Natural Sciences, as well as 9 hours in Cultural Diversity classes. Some complain about this, but my thought is that we chose a liberal arts education, and my problem is actually choosing a major because I like everything, so I have no sympathy for them.
Professors are very friendly and all make an effort to know your name. My favorite class was European Sports History. Least favorite Aural Skills, its essential for becoming a better musician but very hard. I'm a college music history/theory major, therefore I spend more time in the onservatory but I'm not actually a "connie." Some people will hold that against you, but for the most part you feel part of the conservatory's student body. The oberlin academic requirements are geared towards making the student a more well rounded person. Therefore all students must take math or science, social studies, literature courses regardless of their major. This is good because it forces you outside your comfort-zone. Oberlin does produce many academics, but others do pursue jobs out in the "real" world.
I love not having grad students as teachers. Every class has a real professor to teach it, and, barring some of the easier, more widely taken courses, has only about 20 students in each class. This makes for a very personal learning environment which I like very much. Oberlin focuses on giving its students a thorough liberal arts education. As such, we have a large number of credits outside of the field of our major to fulfill. Thankfully, the college takes a lot of transfer credit from high school. As far as difficulty of the classes, you will find much harder classes elsewhere, but I haven't encountered a completely trivial class yet, and if you put some effort into the classes, you don't really have a limit to what you can get out of them.
class size is generally small (except in some of the intro classes), so all of the professors you have know your name and face (especially if you visit them during office hours when they are always happy to talk to you and help you out). Students are pretty studious when they have to be, but not to the point of insanity. On beautiful days you will always see crowds of students gathered on the quad playing frisbee or listening to music, etc. Education is definately geared toward learning. Oberlin has some of the highest percent of students going to grad school, etc after college. Students have a lot of intellectual debates and things outside of class. Most people are politically well-informed and socially aware if not highly active.