The academics at UCR is really really really what you make of it, despite that being a ridiculous cliche. I will explain. At some private schools if you get behind or miss classes they will seek you out to help. At UCR a tremendous number of freshman are gone before the end of their first year, due to the apathy of the administration and the generally low admission standards (letting in students who don't really care about higher education). There are however a BILLION different great opportunities for dedicated students.
Being a Creative Writing and English Major, class sizes are often times just right for engagement with the teacher and effective room for participation and discussion. Also, the 10-30 student courses often times result in the Professor learning all of the students' names very quickly, which creates a friendly, very open learning experience. Most of the Professors in this subject area are also very well-versed in their respective subjects and offer a broad scope of viewing the world and its intricacies.
When you pick an area of emphasis and take as many classes as you possible can in that area the academic experience is awesome and worth the relatively low price of a UC Riverside eduction. Meeting a professor or other faculty member who sparks your interest in a subject or area is the best thing you can do, and one that's likely at a smaller school like UC Riverside, because they're always available to help you with the next step...i.e. individual research, internships, grad/professional school...etc.
Professors definitely know my name, especially after taking several courses with them. My favorite class would be all the marketing courses I've taken. My lease favorite is definitely accounting and financing! Students always study a day before the test at this school. Class participation is very common. Most students dont have intellectual convos outside of class and yes students are competitive here. UCR's academic requirements are quite challenging but not hard to accomplish.
Professors at UCR are friendly and always willing to help students to succeed. All of my professors know my name, and always clarify any questions a student can produce. Office hours are available and accommodating, and if class schedules conflict one can always make an appointment to get help from a professor. The courses are rigorous but manageable and always fair. Most importantly they inspire students to be passionate and involved in their education.
I have had the honor to take many classes with some of the best professors here at UCR. Some were political science classes or math classes. The majority of students do study but I believe we also know how and when to let loose and just chill. I would say a good number of students actually have intellectual conversations outside of class. The education at UCR that I have earned is geared toward getting a job and for the sake of just plain learning.
Most professors in the lower division classes will have no idea who you are, but the TAs were pretty good about being personable. The goal is to be familiar with your professors because they will help you out and often offer ways to bring up your grade if you simply ask. The best class I took was Parasitology with Dr. Platzer, its the only undergrad class that involves vertebrate testing. I thought Dr. Luben was the best Biochem professor.
It really depends which classes you take or what major you are. It also depends on what topics you find interesting. There are some hard professors and there are some professors that aren't that harsh on their students. Most of the funner classes are easier than say science classes. In the smaller classes it is most likely for your professor to recognize you than in a larger lecture, unless you go to see that teacher in their office hours.
Academics at UC Riverside are the same as they are anywhere else, large 500 student classes as well as some small 20 student classes. At the freshmen level, the classes are a great way to network and get to know other students as well as to get comfortable with the college lifestyle. As a Junior or Senior, the classes are more focused and the Students are a bit more mature in their studying and participation habits.
The academics at our school are really great, even though classes tend to be large professors still manage to get to know their students and cooperate with them. Students do have discussions after class, especially when the subject being discussed is relevant to today's world. I also think that the schools academic requirements are very helpful and appropriate.