As nerdy as this may sound I actually enjoy studying for my classes. Part of the beauty of college is that you are allowed to pretty much take the majority of your classes in a subject that you love! Asides from some non-science general education classes I have pretty much only taken science classes. Unlike in high school where I had to sit through world history and american history waiting for the period to end, I can’t wait to get to some of my classes in the morning. My favorite class that I have taken at Stony Brook is my BIO 315 Microbiology (micro for short) class! After completing my introductory level biology classes this was my first upper division biology class that I took. To be completely honest, I was terrified the first day of class. Upper division biology classes are traditionally taken by juniors or seniors – but I was a sophomore venturing into this unknown territory. To my surprise, micro turned out to be incredibly interesting and enjoyable! After I took the class, I actually recognized some of the diseases mentioned in House and Grey’s Anatomy. Even though the class was held in Javits 100 (our largest lecture hall that seats 500+ students), our professor made the class very personable and interactive. Our professor was always asking questions, making jokes and encouraging the students to participate. Weekly office hours held by the undergraduate teachers’ assistants made the class even more personable! A TA is an undergraduate student who did very well in the class in a previous semester and is now serving as a “tutor” for current students. Micro is a unique class in that the TAs also give out extra credit quizzes every week. Not only do these quizzes help your grade at the end of the semester but they also serve as a great way to keep up with the material during the semester. I loved this class so much that I actually TAed BIO 315 my spring semester junior year! Even though I pretty much live and breathe science I still wanted to venture out and explore some humanities classes. Some of my other favorite classes that I took at Stony Brook include a political science class as well as several sociology classes, Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take a class just because it sounds interesting!
I am a Studio Art and Sociology dbl major with a minor in Art History. I'm involved mostly in the Studio Art Department, and I talk to my professors like they are my friends. Although Stony Brook is set up to have a great Sculpture and Ceramics department, if you are serious, you might be the only one (as there are very few people who concentrate in them). Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Digital, and Photography Classes have much more people in them. The number of students in classes is small, except for one class, Technology in the Arts, which is required for the theatre & music departments also. The digital arts program which is being set up looks like it's going to be pretty great. I wish there was a collaboration between the Music, Theatre, and Art undergraduate classes in some way, since they are all right there in the same building. Some of the professors are the "real deal" while others are questionable. One good thing that Stony Brook's art history department set up is required trips to museums like the Met or MoMA for class papers and assignments. They really force you to get in there and look around. Some art history classes are just a hell of a lot easier,more fun, interesting... than others like the History of Photography is pretty fun. Beware, others may require a ten page paper or ridiculously hard tests. As for Sociology, I have never in my life gotten through material so easily, and aced it, before without studying or preparing. I don't know if they recruit under-educated people to join the classes or if people really are that dumb. The teachers seem pretty cool, but I feel bad for them as there are always students jumping down their throats for bringing up the issues that are discussed in Sociology. The Sociology classes are like a zoo, it's a place for people with big mouths and small tolerance it seems. But I have taken classes elsewhere and it was almost just as bad as here at Stony Brook.
The professors do not know my name, if you do not go to their office hours or visit them regulary they will only know your face and nothing less. Any class is good if the professor possess a good grasp of the english language, otherwise it sucks. Students spent a significant amount of their time studying, but it varies with the major. Engineering and Science students are much busier then philosophy students. Class discussion is about average, happens a lot in smaller classes but is obiously non-existant in 600 peoople lecture halls. If you have some people you talk to regulary you will generally hear a lot of intellectual conversation as people generally are pretty smart. I wouldn't say that students are competitive, we just don't have that here. I can't name a unique class I've taken as most of them seem pretty typical. Comptuer Science is definitely one of the best departments to be in, the departments makes an effort(all do not always) to provide quality instructors and is probably the only department to hire lecturers whose primary concern is to teach. Of course, you will receive little guidance beyond that. I spent less time with professors outside of class then I should, I do need those reccomendation letters later on. I have no problem with stonybrook's academic requirments, except perhaps the fact that majors are unbalanced, major requirments range from about 32 credits to 110 credits. Its not quite clear if the education is geared towards a job or learning for its sake. In a way the university is trying to get you to get a job yet makes it difficult to understand how these things can be applied to your job.
Sometimes I find that professors really care and really want to get to know each student, and other times it’s definitely not like that. In my major (Linguistics) majority of the classes are small, so a lot of the professors tend to get to know your name regardless. They are all usually extremely available and helpful in office hours and in general. However, I will be declaring a double major in Sociology, and in those classes, it’s very easy to blend in. You learn to take initiative whenever necessary. Stony Brook’s academic requirements can be a complete pain. You have to take different classes and each class fulfills a different DEC (Diversified Education Curriculum). Sometimes you literally get stuck in classes that you would never take otherwise and have to suffer through them just because you can’t graduate without completing the DEC. That definitely does not cover all of it though, because I cannot even tell you how many times I was able to find a DEC that was so much easier than my other classes. It can be like a complete breath of fresh air. Who knows, you might even find a subject you really like through it. One thing that always drives me crazy- I always have work to do. I don’t understand how there are always people who say that they have absolutely nothing to do and get to sit around playing video games. I’m not sure if they actually do not have work or if they just don’t do any of it. I have to admit, though, I’m more of the perfectionist type. I would still say not to expect to not do anything if you come here.
I'm a psychology major and I'd have to say the reason I got any of the experiences that I did was simply because of good grades and talking to people in charge. If you're a poor student, be careful because you will be looked down upon. And talk! Ask a question, give your opinion to the professor after class, it will be a bonus (make sure they're approachable first, you don't want to insult them). Classes under 40 students exist only in the arts or special seminar classes which is generally 400 + level. I have yet to have a small class. Class participation happens only when it's not a easy class that you can sleep through and never study for. Group work is done only when assigned and study groups are made up of friends so make friends with your classmates. A lot of professors like to give a massive amount of notes so bring a notebook. Sometimes a laptop isn't worth it. Only the back rows tend to have outlets and wireless doesn't exist in the lecture hall. For science courses, studying will be your life. You simply won't have a social life. Otherwise, plan your time accordingly (and you will need to have time management skills if you want a GPA above a 3.0) Art courses FYI, sound easy, but 6 hrs a week for 3 credits plus outside work is needed too, and can get expensive.
The one thing you have to remember when going to a school this size is that you can't expect your professors to know who you are, and care how well you do. You have to make an effort to make your face known, and get help when you need it. It REALLY depends what major you are in, but I have found that students are (for the most part) very intelligent and competitive. I like the way the SUNY system works, in that you are required to take a number of "DEC" requirements. Most people hate this, but if they stopped trying to perfect their GPA's and stopped to actually learn something, they'd realize that taking a variety of courses actually makes you a more well-rounded, intelligent person. I have found that all of the professors I have had are highly qualified, however some of them are disinterested in teaching. I think this is mainly because Stony Brook is such an incredibly strong research university, that that alone is the reason many of these professors are here to begin with. On the bright side, it is extremely easy to find a research position and dive into the research community, which (I think) is the best part of being at a university!
In my junior year, i finally met prof that would actually get to know me. lectures are ridiculous, there's almost no learning going on there, unless you are teaching yourself. when you get to actual classes about your major is when you finally feel like you're part of a college life. my favorite classes are those that have field trips and hands on activites (labs etc). it's so much easier to learn then looking at some stuffy guys notes from 30 years ago. most of the time, in smaller classrooms people go. in lecture halls, unless they use those horrid clickers, students would rather sleep in their own bed then in a chair. students are competitive up to a point. the ones that are obsessive are annoying, but obviously everyone cares about their grades, and getting better than the other people. the most unique class i've taken is mar 340, li marine habitats. it wasnt a competitive class at all because we were all friends, and just had fun chilling on the beach, looking for crabs. the whole environmental studies/marine science dept is just wonderful. very nice people, and very well known in the real world.
I have classes I love, and I must admit Organic Chemistry is one of them, and mind you I'm not very good at this class. Yet I don't mind working hard and struggling for this class because it has amazing, dedicated, and funny teachers. Being a Biology major, I have to say its tough, its not easy ride here in Stony Brook, but it is worth it. A few classes will be really hard and end up hating, others are annoying yet need to be done, and some you will fall in love with. You get that at any University, so what makes up different. I really don't know, but I'll just describe a few highlights. Our core curriculum allows our students to explore all branches of academia, from sciences, to humanities, to language. We want our students to graduate well rounded. We encourage students to take minors that doesn't have to do with their major, if its purely for interests, its ok! I'm doing that with taking Spanish as my minor. Our education is about preparation, no matter where your career path may take you. And we offer a whole list of opportunities for our students, and resources to explore them.
Only the one professor in LRN actually kbnows my name. Not even my TA's know my name. My favorite class is LRN because everyone knows each other. It is small and i have met my best friends in it. My least favorite class is Biology because my professors are the worst rated in history and i can totally see why they are rated as such. Varies upon the person for studying habits. Class participation is not very common. Stony Brook students do have intellectual convo's if they are intellectual people. Yes students are competitive to a point. LRN. Biochem is where the hood people are. I do not spend time with professors ever. Stony Brook is bad when it comes to academic requirements. They are very easy on some majors. Well education sucks because professors dont teach and if they do, the TA's run the class afterwards so you have to fend for yourself to get ahead.
It depends on the size of the class. A lot of professors know my name because I'm in smaller classes. If you go to the professor's office hours they'll get to know you on a first-name basis. My favorite classes are sociology classes. Least favorite are math related classes, only because it isn't my strongest subject. Some students barely study and their grades reflect that. I study hard for my grades. The conversations you have with people outside of class depend on the type of people you surround yourself with. Students can be competitive. The requirements are okay, they require you to get a rounded education which is good. Most of the classes that I have taken to fulfill the requirements have been interesting and I enjoyed them. The education is definitely geared toward learning for its own sake.