In the larger, lower division classes like Food Science or Film Studies, there will be upwards of 500 students. Don't expect to get to know your professors in these classes. However, once you move into more advanced coursework and the classes become smaller, professors will definitely learn your name, especially if you speak to them outside of class, which they are always willing to do. My favorite classes were Hip Hop Culture in Urban America and Holocaust Literature. The Hip Hop class was something you'd never expect to see at UC Davis, but is a testament to the broad scope of academics here and the diversity we enjoy and promote on campus. The Holocaust Lit class only had 12 students, but the professor was extremely knowledgeable and explained the incredibly difficult material so well that over a year later I am taking a class with him again, just for fun. My least favorite class was Film Studies. It had about 500 students, and the course only focused on film up until 1915, so I didn't feel it was representative of what a true introductory course should cover. The professor also had a love affair with the word "discourse." Students do study a lot, but not alone. It is not uncommon to be approached by a complete stranger in your class and be asked if you want to form a study group. Class participation is common, but not at all necessary if that's not your thing. Intellectual conversations are also quite easy to come by outside of class, on the bus, at a coffee shop, at a football game, or wherever. But, like any college campus, silliness and goofing off are welcome too. The English department is very "family-oriented" in that it is close-knit. English majors run into each other in several classes throughout their careers, and the department sponsors contests and other events to get students involved. The department academic adviser sends out weekly emails to English majors keeping them apprised of upcoming events, career/internship opportunities and other announcements pertinent to the major. I have a professor who dubs himself the "poetry liaison" to the city of Davis. He co-hosts a poetry/open mike night at a restaurant downtown, so I see him there often. I also had a professor who gave a talk at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, so I saw him there. Admission to UC Davis varies between "selective" and "very selective." Currently it is "selective" due to the many expansions happening around campus that are increasing the number of students we can take. UC Davis probably leans more toward "learning for its own sake," though your major may determine whether your education is geared toward getting a job or learning for its own sake. Veterinary medicine students are more likely to get a job in their academic field than English majors, who have no specific job title that correlates to their major.
Professors know your name if you chat with them after lecture, or visit them during office hours. It's a very good idea to do both. Maybe even complimenting them on the lecture of that day will give you a head up. My favorite class so far was Cultural Anthropology with James Smith. BOY can this guy talk! He had the most intriguing stories of his times in Africa, all discussing broad themes and sociological patterns that we see in America, too! Learning about people and the history of other peoples is fun. My least favorite class was Economics. I'm not a money person. I know how NOT to spend, and to pay bills and that is ENOUGH for me. The lectures were always online and you didn't even need to go to class because he would READ the slides. ^(this econ info can also be found on ratemyprofessor.com when you become an aggie and register for classes! Others agree with me.) Class participation is not common. It also depends on the class. I had a great political science professor who always made sure we were listening by adding comments like, "Guess what Stalin did next?" Etc... haha so that was fun. The majority of UC Davis students I know, have all engaged in intellectual conversations with me at some point or another. We know what's up. We all think about the big picture. Who doesn't? Ok so I'm a Spanish major and for one of my lower division classes, we met on Sunday afternoons at starbucks or a mexican food place and only spoke in Spanish. It was a totally different atmosphere and I loved seeing my classmates outside or school, if I hadn't already at parties! hahaha.. Also, I have met with my Major advisor twice throughout the year and she has been nothing but helpful and understanding that freshmen may need some extra explaining. Also, she told me about classes I could take for upper division electives that may suit other interests than just the language, like literature, linguistic, and cultural classes. The academic requirements are totally reachable! I'm working towards a double-major with international relations, and I plan on finishing in 4 years. I will also sacrifice summers to make sure I'm ahead of the game. It's not that big of a deal. I like what I'm learing/experiencing and I like my professors so far, and that's what's important. There are two ways to look at the education UC Davis can give you. There are plenty of majors and interships available for post-graduation jobs, and then there are the majors that can either go into teaching, more studying and more classes, and maybe even grad school. Bottom line, you'll find a job if you get good advice on what to major in and what pre-graduation jobs to look for. If you're not interested in a job right away, that's fine too and until then, take as many classes as you want!
The academics at UC Davis are outstanding. If you do your research on professors RateMyProfessor.com (a great website with ratings of each professor which I have found to be very accurate), you should have no problem with getting great professors. I am an economics and sociology double major so my favorite classes have been ECN 135 Money and Banking with Athanasios Geromichalos and SOC 138 Economics of Sociology with Lucas Kirkpatrick. Another great professor is Emanuel Frankel. He has real experience in the private sector as the VP of a department for Bank of America. He applies his experiences to the concepts we are learning in class so the ideas become more tangible for those new to the concepts he is teaching. Unless you are in a smaller class, especially an English class, classes don't usually require a significant amount of participation. If they do, the majority of it is just showing up to discussions. At UC Davis, a lot of classes geared toward math and science are graded on a curve. This makes the students pretty competitive with each other. Students are willing to help each other, but there is always an underlying notion that we are all competing against each other. For the most part, the education at UC Davis is geared toward learning for the sake of learning as opposed to being geared toward getting a job. The Internship and Career Center does a good job of offering workshops to prepare your resume and cover letter to apply for jobs, but the classes are mostly aimed at teaching concepts and theories.
UC Davis, as with any UC, is a great school academically. Recently rated as the 9th best Public School in America (behind other UC's like Berkeley and UCLA but ahead of UCSB), UC Davis has a reputation as an academically challenging school in only the agricultural sciences. While it is true that our Agriculture school is one of the best in the world, our Engineering college is also world renowned and our hard sciences such as Biology and Chemistry are also ranked in the top 50 nationally. Psychology, the most popular major on campus, also has an incredibly strong department. Depending on what major you have, your study time will differ from person to person. Engineers can expect to spend a lot of time in the library or home studying while some other majors require much less work. In terms of classes, Davis offers so many classes that are both fun and academically stimulating. Two example of this are SAS 30 (Mushrooms, Mold, and Society) and NUT 10 (Nutrition). SAS 25 is a class that looks at the different breeds of mushrooms and how they have effected history in different ways (such as one being uses to kill old British lords without leaving a trace). NUT 10 is a class that teaches you about the different kinds of food and how they effect you directly. You also get to see how healthy (or no healthy) you diet is and it is consistently rated as one of the top classes at Davis year after year!
Often times, classes are rather large. This holds especially true in lower division (introduction) course. Because of this, professors have a hard time knowing their student's names. To solve this problem, professors have office hours. I personally really enjoy attending office hours because it allows for one on one time with the professor. Sometimes this leads to friendships with professors that can last even once the class has ended. During my freshman year, I had an English professor who was very helpful. After attending his office hours on an almost weekly basis I now feel like I have established a relationship with him. This proved to be true when I emailed him about writing a letter of recommendation for me. Despite the fact that he was teaching at another university now, he was still more than willing to help he. I am a communication and psychology major, english minor. I find that this combination of topics allows me to expand my depth of understanding in a variety of areas which will further prepare me for a career in journalism. Because of the requirements for these areas and for the university as a whole, I have the opportunity to take a plethora of courses that broaden my understanding of the society as a whole. Every class I have taken, rather it be in my majors or simply a general requirement, has only served to benefit me and mold me into a more intellectual person.
Here's the thing about academics at Davis. They vary so hugely based on major it is hard to give an accurate picture of the whole school. My major is Communications, which is a part of the College of Letters and Sciences. My classes are generally lectures, containing about 100 students. Professors are not difficult to get to know, however. They make time in their office hours and after class to meet students and help however they can. I am currently enrolled in a Public Speaking class where we have separate discussion sections led by a Teacher's Assistant. I love public speaking, so this class has been incredible rewarding. In lecture, I learn the basic components of public speaking, and in discussion I get to actually create and deliver speeches that I am then given direct critique on so I can improve. It is one of the best classes I've taken so far in college. Students at Davis are known as hard working. Davis is a research university, so many of my friends and classmates have had internships working with professors. The library is always filled with students, studying individually and in groups. The quarter system is either loved or hated by students. The way I see it: if you dislike a class, it's over in 10 weeks. And I love that I can take three sets of classes every year while my friends on the semester system can only take two.
The professors just know you know your name from just attending lectures, if you take the time to go their office hours and make an effort to get to know them, they will welcome you with smile. They love to see students interested in their classes. My favorite class right now is the programming class I am currently taking. The teacher is very humorous and also very knowledgeable about the information she teaches in class that it makes me more interested in the subject. The amount of students study is not too bad. It is not required that you will be studying all day, but you should spend a good amount of time studying for each class to keep up with the teacher. Class participation is very common in classes. It might be a little intimidating to speak in lecture hall with around a hundred people, but you get used to it and seeing that many do participate and ask questions, you are encouraged to ask questions as well. Students have various kinds of conversations everywhere, intellectual, entertainment related, and other kinds as well. Student are cautious of their grades and are competitive when they need to be. The education provided here is for learning purposes and also to train us to be able to get a job in the major we are in.
I'm an english major, so I get a lot of special attention in workshops for creative writing. The professors in those classes know my name, however I believe that is because I searched out that sort of a relationship. In lecture classes I rarely talk to the professors. I can't generalize how often students study. I've seen all types of studiers here. Class participation feels forced a lot of the time. Most people show up and expect to listen. However, if a class is conducted correctly (as many of mine were) the students did participate in an intellectual way. Students definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class. I would say that most of my intellectual conversations happened outside of class. But it was necessary to go to those classes in the first place to find people interested in exploring the same subjects of intellect. I think college anywhere is geared more toward getting you a diploma than getting you a job. You'll only really learn the real stuff when you get on the job. If learning happens along the way it is because a student wanted to learn.
As an amazing research institute, UC Davis offers educational opportunities that other colleges simply can't. Wether you are interested in Agriculture, Engineering, Psychology or Biology, UC Davis has invested millions of dollars into departments for research in these areas. UC Davis students are highly involved and competitive when it comes to classes and I have met incredibly dedicated people attending this University. These students are both intimidating and inspiring. The professors are a unique and eclectic bunch however I cannot deny that most are amazingly accomplished and dedicated to their students. I am a Senior at UCD and I am double majoring in Psychology and Communication. I have enjoyed most of my classes for these majors a lot. As far as student beliefs, these are the easier majors that you can choose. That's probably why I decided to do two. No matter what though, getting a degree from UC Davis looks great and is definitely a personal accomplishment.
Like any school, there are good and bad professors, but I have found that this university really wants to see their students succeed. There is free tutoring offered for all students in math, science and english at Dutton Hall. In the residence halls there is also free tutoring every weeknight in these same subject areas. I have heard that at highly competitive schools students aren't willing to help each other in their studies, but at Davis I have found everyone I ask to be more than willing to take time to help me understand something or study together. All of the professors I have had really stress learning for learning's sake (not just memorizing to pass an exam). The professors seem to really care about our wellbeing beyond studyies as well. Some professors have even offered their office hours for students to come in a talk to them about whatever is on their mind--that was a huge surprise to me at this big university, but something that also means a lot!