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Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

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What are the academics like at your school?

The academic stature at SIUC is very overlooked and underrated, which is primarily due to the school’s past reputation of being a ‘party school.’ Therefore, many incoming students often enter the university with the presumption that the classes and coursework will be easy. However, from my own experiences (as well as the aforementioned who soon discover that their presupposition was inaccurate), I have found my courses to be exigent, yet enlightening, and thus I have grown as a student as the knowledge I have acquired has only further contributed to my future as a scholar. Although I do have much insight of the Teacher Education Program, because I am an English major, I am somewhat limited to my knowledge of other departments. Even though my opinion is biased, in regards to the English department at SIUC, all of my professors know my name and have taken a personal interest in me. Furthermore, they have all been exceptionally accommodating with their office hours. This is relevant in that it is incredibly important for a student to build a positive, professional relationship with his or her professor. Because I have established a personal and productive relationship with each of my professors, I consequently feel more content in class and more apt in seeking assistance when needed, and, more importantly, I believe that my performance in class is also enhanced. In regards to the other departments at SIUC, some are not nearly as wonderful as others—many students have a negative outlook on these departments, particularly the Education Department. Although I am currently an English major with a minor in Women’s/Gender/Sexuality Studies, I was recently majoring in English education (which I had been throughout my entire college career until fairly recently). Although I had terrific education professors, the advisement that I had received was very poor. My advisor was placing me in classes that I did not need. Furthermore, she had me enrolled in multiple education courses (which each required 60+ hours of observation) and multiple 400-level English courses. Although I am a very hard-working and competent student, I would have been extremely overwhelmed. On the contrary, the English department is one of the best not only on campus, but also in Illinois. Although it may be hard to believe, I have not had one terrible English professor yet. Even though the English composition courses (i.e. English 101 and 102) are often taught by graduate students, who can either be terrific or terrible, the assistant and associate professors are some of the best. The English department has had fourteen Outstanding Teacher Awards rewarded to its faculty members from the university. Additionally, three members have nationally received recognition for excellence in teaching. Even though the English department is unfortunately not the most renowned program at Southern, the Engineering and Aviation programs are two of the top prestigious programs both in the university and in the nation. The sense of community at SIUC is wonderful. I have thus far met many other undergraduate and graduate students and professors all of whom are incredibly intellectual and who have furthered and contributed to my academic journey—something that I may not have experienced at another institution that did not value community.

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When I was a Resident Assistant in the halls I would give my freshmen one key pieces of advice, You must meet your professors. I would explain, leave them alone that first weeks of school, but around week three go into their office hours and introduce yourself and have a short conversation with them. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but if you need something, they will be more likely to help out since they know a little about you. I was in charge of a majority of the Mass Communication and Media Arts College Freshman. If you are in this college you need to live your mandatory year in the residents halls in Kellogg. If you do this, you will have over 100 study buddies that get what you're going through. Also, this is the ONLY residence hall with its own computer lab in the basement. Imagine this for a minute; You are shooting your film and your actor gets sick, you grip had a few too many last night, and your make-up artist is missing. You would be simply out of luck and have to cancel the shoot. If you live in Kellogg, these people all probably live in the building. You can go knock on door to get these people up and going, or even quickly find people who are suitable replacements. Kellogg is a living learning community (LLC), their whole existence is there for freshmen to learn where they live, and to have a community of students around them supporting them through the tough times and the good times. When your Bolex film comes back ruined because you had a light leak, you have over 100 friend who already know what your going through. When you finish a shoot, you have over 100 friends who will celebrate with you. An added education bonus that Kellogg has to offer is its peer mentors. The three (on of each floor of Kellogg) peer mentors are juniors or seniors who live in Kellogg and are additional resources for students from any thing like Math 113 to how to properly download their HD footage. Everyone get down to the wire with assignments and when you get in a bind or simply have a question about the college, these people are at students disposal. This program was started a year an a half ago by Clare Mitchell who is the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and also the Chief Academic Advisor. She is a great resource and always has her door open for students who have any questions or needs. Another benefit of SIUC MCMA college is that we have our own internship coordinator, Krissi Geary-Boehm. This woman goes above and beyond for students to place them in internships. She hosts over 12 free workshops a semester on how to perfect your resume, cover letter, and interviews. She also hosts a senior level class on professionalism and prepares you for everything you will need to be a professional in your field.

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The academics are very good here.

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The academics at SIU, I believe, are grossly underrated. Southern has a reputation of being a party school, and because of that its academic reputation suffers. However, speaking from my own experiences, I've found my classes to be both challenging, informative, and speaking generally, having contributed positively to my academic growth. I'm an English major and have been for essentially the duration of my college career, so my personal experience with other departments is limited. What I will say, is that for the most part, all of my teachers, regardless of their departmental affiliation, have been more than willing to take a personal interest in me, and been incredibly flexible with their office hours. This is important, because at least for me, I've found that when I'm able to build a personal relationship with a teacher, I feel more comfortable in class, more comfortable seeking help when I need it, and generally feel that my performance in the class is helped. Now, not every department on campus is greatest thing ever. I've heard droves of complaints about the math department. Personally, I'm terrible at math, and I always have been, so it was no surprise to me that I struggled in the one math class I took at SIU. What I will say, is that my T.A. was more than willing to sit down with anyone who wanted help, and the department offered study sessions each week for any student interested. In all honesty, much of the problem with the math department stems from the fact that it's consistent mostly of foreigners almost exclusively from Asian countries, and to put it plainly, there is a language barrier. As unfortunate as it is to say, things like that matter. If the students literally can't understand what the teacher is saying, there is going to be an issue, regardless of that teacher's abilities. What I will say though, is that many of the students in the lower level math classes, like Math 113, which the university requires that everyone take, tend to give the bare minimum effort, because math is boring, and hardly anyone likes doing it. As far as other departments that tend to be viewed negatively, the Education Department is at the top of the list. As an English major, I've had classes with tons of people studying education, and overwhelmingly those students complain that their teachers and advisers are simply not good. I'm not an education student, so I can't speak from personal experience, but from what I've heard, the Education Department is one of the worst on campus. However, the English department is one of the best in the state. I can honestly say that I haven't had a bad English teacher yet. English 101 can be a little tricky, because it's taught by graduate assistants, and it can be hit or miss sometimes with the quality or aptitude of their educational abilities. Plus, some graduate students tend to think a little more highly of themselves than they should, and can be overly critical or scrutinize too heavily, but as far as the tenured professors of the college are concerned, they're some of the best. It should be noted that the bread and butter of SIU academics are the Engineering program and the Aviation program. We have the second best Engineering program in the state, and the best Aviation school in the nation, withholding the Air Force academy. Depending on your field, your program can be geared in one direction or another in terms of whether it's designed for getting a job immediately or simply learning for the sake of doing so. The English department is definitely a program geared more towards gaining knowledge, as most English students either pursue a secondary degree, go into education, or have another major as well. However, one of my roommates is a part of the Radio-TV department, and his program is the polar opposite. His department is definitely geared toward job placement, and according to him, many of his former classmates who have graduated are currently holding jobs in their department. Furthermore, one of my former rugby teammates was an engineering major, and he got a job right out of college making 80,000 dollars a year. This is obviously not typical, and he works in an incredibly narrow field, but it's just another example of how some programs prepare you to get a job right away, while others give you to the tools to go into any number of fields. As far as classroom competitiveness, I'd say that it's fairly mild. Personally, I'm incredibly competitive, and I want to be the best all the time, so I treat every class like a competition. Not everyone at SIU shares this motivation, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. There is a great sense of community at SIU, and at least from my experiences, students like to help each other, and use each other as resources. We're all smart here (for the most part...like at any college, intellectually challenged individuals can seem abundant at times) and we're all capable of doing great things, so it's only logical for students to rely on each other for help and to bounce ideas off one another. I've met a lot of really intelligent people that have expanded my ways of thinking and provided me with insights that I might not have gotten from a college with a lesser sense of community.

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All my professors know my name. I'm a double major in Theater and English Education, so I've taken some crazy classes! One of the most unique classes I took was Stage Makeup - I learned how to change the shape of my face using only makeup, and how to make myself age 60 years! The theater department is incredibly close, and I call almost all my professors by their first names. In the theater department, every student is assigned a faculty mentor and an older student to show them the ropes and make sure their transition to college is a smooth one. Even though I'm done with my theater coursework, I still make time to visit with my mentor. I consider her a dear friend. In education, the students are incredibly motivated. Most students show up in the same classes, and you get very close to one another. Because of the classes I've taken, I feel very prepared to begin teaching. Part of the education requirements here are that you observe a teacher and teach a few lessons to a real class before you begin student teaching, so you can decide if teaching is for you or not. I feel like there is emphasis on learning and critical thinking overall at the university, though in this economy, the advisors are very helpful in helping you think about your career. We also have a fantastic resource in Career Services, which helps you write resumes and conducts mock interviews with students.

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Fantastic! There is a huge library, so if you can't find what you need online, the book is going to be at the 7 floor library. If it isnt there, they will order it for you to make sure you have the best of the best.

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My academics are great! I took a few advances courses in high school so I was definitely prepared for the difficulty.

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