Great professors! Especially in the english department! Math department sucks. There is no "minors" at Mary Wash, you can only double major.
The business department is absolutely fantastic. They make fun of the english majors a lot, but it is all in good fun.
Some teachers and great, some aren't just like any any other school.
Something that I like so much about UMW is the student to professor ratio. The class sizes are usually quite small, so that enables the teacher to know nearly every student by name. That was an important quality that played a big part in my attending UMW. My favorite class was Macroeconomics with Steven Stageberg because he is an extremely unique and interesting man, who made economics exciting, which I didn't believe possible. My least favorite class was an Intro to Theatre class. The teacher was loopy and had no idea what she was doing. Students study nearly every night but it really depends on what your goals are. I would study an average of 3-4 hours a day. Because the classes are so small, class participation is expected and can benefit students. UMW students most definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class, but there is a balance between that and just leisurely conversation. One reason why I chose UMW is because students are not particularly competitive. Most everyone just sets personal goals, not taking into account how other students are performing. UMW is lacking in unique class offerings. The International Relations department is one of the biggest departments at UMW. There are lots of requirements however, and it can be difficult to get into theclasses that you need in order to graduate. Most students don't experience too much trouble though. I do not normally spend time with professors outside of class. UMW's academic requirements are I believe one reason why there is a lack of unique courses. We have several "goals" that have to be met for General Education requirements and these caues students to have to take a number of classes that possibly won't interest them at all, and that don't particularly contribute to student's worldly knowledge because they usually just try to get through the class doing the least amount of learning possible. I feel that UMW has a good balance between gearing students toward jobs and learning for its own sake.
All my professors knew my name at some point. Of course the ones who became my advisors, or who I continued taking classes with, or who I kept in touch with over my four years there still know my name. It's really difficult to pick just one favorite class. One of the most challenging and most rewarding was my Methods of Art History class with Dr. Och. We had a presentation and paper due every week, along with additional reading to prepare us for class discussions. The class was small and everyone participated in discussion. Professors encourage discussion and particpation and many make participation a significant part of your grade. My least favorite class was Business Communications. I loved the professor and I know I got a lot out of the class, but I despised the semester long project and presentation and impromptu speech. UMW students do have intellectual conversations outside of class and students are competitive. Because I double majored in two very different subject areas, Business Administration and Art History, I experienced two very different departments. The Art History department is much smaller than the Business Administration department and I feel the professors in the Art History department knew me better than the ones in the Business Department. The professors in the Art History department are genuinely interested in the success of students inside the classroom and outside the classroom through jobs and internships. The Business department is as well. Both departments are very helpful in giving recommendation letters and being faculty sponsors for indepentdent studies and internships. The General Education requirements are annoying but I see the point in requiring them so that students are forced to experience the variety of departments. I still haven't decided if UMW is geared toward getting a job or learning for its own sake.
I loved the historic preservation department and the professors, classes and outside field trips we took in the program. I specialized in museums and loved the classes assigned to that study. All classes were discussion or practice based and none were strictly lecture-note-taking-test. I thought this was the best way to learn what I have learned, and also allowed me to be practical and well-educated when I hit the museum/preservation field as an alum. I still email and talk to my professors-using them as my mentors throughout this entry-level time in my career! I also participated in the elementary education program for three and a half years-and loved it. Again, this department focussed on discussion based class involvement and hands-on learning through practicum requirements. Although I cursed the practicum hours for how much time they took from my weekly schedule - up to 15 hours a week in schools - in the end they helped me learn that I did not want to be a teacher, and would rather work in a museum education position! As for the general education classses-they were not too bad, but I know they have changed the makeup of the requirements since I was a freshman/sophomore. I think the new freshman seminar classes sounded interesting and many of my senior friends and I wished we could have taken them! The school also limited the amount of credits students were required to take before jumping into their major courses which I think is great and allows for the students to take more classes to help cater to their interests and build their overall education.
I switched majors about three times at Mary Wash and still graduated on time, so if you are unsure of what you'd like to major in, don't worry, there's plenty of time to decide what department you find the most interesting. Class participation kind of depends on your department. I find it a lot of fun because in my experience the professors are great moderators, and people are polite, mature and respectful of each other's opinions and time to talk, making it a very comfortable atmosphere. Since the class sizes are quite small this also makes it less intimidating to speak in front of the class during presentations. A lot of students definitely care about their grades, however, I don't feel like there was a lot of competition, people are often supportive and if you have questions, you don't always have to ask the professor, you can ask students also. Some departments have a lot of group projects and most of the time I think that people have been helpful as they are used to being the ones who do a lot of work in high school group projects and therefore they care about getting the work done and so the work is evenly distributed. Professors are often very friendly outside class and a bit more laid-back than in the classroom. Their office hours are there so students can come talk to them if they have any questions about an assignment, and the professors I've had have been very helpful and nice.
Professors definitely know you by name, and most of them make class a lot of fun. Freshman classes tend to be the worst of the 4 years, because they are mostly large (70+ students) intro classes with grades essentially based on 2 or 3 tests. My favorite class at UMW was a Philosophy of Religion course -- the professor who taught it is awesome (he drew great pictures!) and there was a lot of discussion and debate. In most of my classes throughout my time students tended to participate a lot which made class more interesting. Students are generally not very competitive. Everyone tries to do well of course, but we like to help each other out with study groups rather than fight each other for grades. It is not uncommon to spend time with professors out of the classroom -- be it during office hours, to talk about our futures, or at an academic picnic... many of which include kegs. Academic requirements were a huge pain for me, but the school has implemented new, more lenient requirements for future incoming classes which is a definite improvement
After my freshman year, I was disappointed with academics at UMW. I went to a private school for high school where I was really challenged. Then I got to UMW and it was so easy, I barely had to put forth an effort. For a lot of classes I had, I didn't have to study because I had already learned that material in high school, but had to take the class for a general requirement. That being said, I had some friends that were pretty bright, putting forth their best effort, yet still struggling in their classes. I think how much you're challenged academically depends on what classes you're in, who your professors are, and how much you already know about the subject. But don't worry because if you are struggling UMW provides many resources to help you out. Some examples: tutoring, writing center, academic advisors, and most of the professors will take time out of class to talk about material you don't understand and make sure you get it by the time you leave.
We are a Liberal Arts institution, offering a variety of majors and concentrations. Here at UMW, we take our academics seriously. I'm a psychology major, and from what I've heard our department is fairly challenging in comparison to other universities. Our academic requirements are pretty straight forward: one third of your credits need to fulfill general education requirements, one third needs to fulfill your major, and the final third takes up electives. It's tough to complete 120+ credits in just six semesters, so taking summer school or coming in with credits is always helpful. Like I said, it is very easy to establish good relationships with professors. I always here of fun department events outside of class. I know for the Psychology department, we have annual picnics and parties where we get a chance to socialize with our professors (yes, we do get to drink with them...if you are of age, of course).