UMW academics is fine. I wish it pushed the envelope a little more, with better class offerings -- though wait, this past semester I took Perspectives on Sexuality and the History of Popular Culture -- those are actually pretty cool when I think about it. And another semester I took History of Jazz. My favorite class was American Forms and Values which examined material culture and what ideas and values our materials hold in our society. It was taught by Doug Sanford in the Historic Preservation department -- very interesting guy. I also took Psychology of Sexuality (different from Perspectives on Sexuality) which was an awesome class taught by the wildly popular and brilliant Steve Hampton from the psych dept. I think I liked classes in psychology, sociology, and history better than those in my major of historic preservation. Probably because preservation is boring and the dept is wildly understaffed.
Class sizes are really small, usually 15-20 people per class. Class participation is usually dominated by two or three loudmouths in the class. But you can't sleep in class cause the teachers can see you, and they WILL remember you. I feel like I am in a noncompetitive environment... in fact, I feel like many people are just plain ignorant and dumb. I did a survey for a paper this year and half of the 40 people I surveyed did not know what the word "amnesty" meant... God help me. The general education requirements are obnoxious but they help "undecided" people determine which field is appealing to them. I really feel like taking courses I may not have without the requirements has opened my mind and expanded my views. Most interesting/unique course was Social Problems... our final consisted of Pornography, Homosexuality, and Prostitution... THAT was fun to study for!
Academics at UMW are decent. I never found it to be particularly hard, but I went to a hardcore academic high school. Class size is pretty small. I had some classes that only had 6 students in them, but I also had some larger lecture classes with 30 or more students. Professors know who you are. Within my major (International Affairs), class participation was a significant part of the grade. I think most students study when they want to or when its necessary. Even though they were revised, our general education requirements are still kind of annoying, but I think they're better than most schools since they now include experiential learning. If you hate studying in your dorm room, there's tons of places to study on campus. Most of the academic buildings have good wireless service as does the library. People actually use the library.
Difficult. Some students study daily while other may only do work the night before something is due. Upper level classes are difficult, especially in the science department. There is a low student:teacher ratio that does help, but students should not expect to be able to do well by doing the bare minimum. In upper level classes, class participation is expected and more often then not it becomes a portion of the grade.Teachers always have office hours and if you are having difficulties it is important to seek help with them in order to succeed. Since UMW is a liberal arts school, they do make sure you get the liberal arts education which can often put you in classes that make you feel like a fish out of water. However, it does broaden your horizons and sometimes you find a field that you never saw yourself interested in before.
Academics are pretty important at UMW, but it's not a super stressful environment. We have a couple quiet places on campus (the library and a 24-hour study room), but neither of those are ever full unless it comes close to exam time. One of the reasons I chose to go here is because the classes are smaller, and because your teachers will get to know you. They might not the first year or so, because that's when you're doing all your general classes in a bigger class room, but as soon as you hit sophomore year and above - basically, once you've kind of figured out what field you're going to major in - your professors will begin to recognize and talk to you. And what you'll notice is that not only do they talk to you, but they actually care! We have some of the best professors here, people who really care about their subject.
the class size at mary wash is pretty small. my largest class probably had about 60 people and my smallest had around 10. once you pick a major, you'll get to know your professors within that field and they are all nice, friendly, and accessible. the courses are all pretty hard, not going to lie. you'll get a good education, but it will not be easy. the school definitely values academics above everything else so be prepared to work. personally, i feel like the education you get at mary wash is just as good as the one you'd get at UVA or william and mary and i believe within the next 10 years, mary wash will have the same reputation as those schools. that being said, getting the classes you want can be kind of challenging. i will still having to force add classes when i was a junior.
In every class I have had, the professor knew all of their student's names (except for one intro class that had about 70 people) and they make a genuine effort to be available to help students out. Since most of my classes are relatively small (less than 20), most people do show up to class because teachers generally use participation to bump grades to a higher level. Overall, I get the sense from my friends that UMW is academically vigorous; however, I, personally, do not feel that is the case. A lot of people go to college not realizing how much effort is needed to succeed. A good thing that UMW has done, though, is they have made Freshmen Seminars a graduation requirement. These seminars are used to help transition students into a higher level of work.
Mary Washington classes are small- the biggest 101 level classes usually have about 75 students, tops. As you take higher level classes within your major, the class size will get smaller. My average class size is about 25. Professors definitely know your name, and are genuinely concerned about how you do in their class. If you choose to take advantage of their office hours (which every professor is required to have every week) professors are absolutely willing to help you do well in their class. I've taken so many good classes at UMW that its hard to choose a favorite- Intro to Women's Studies, Social Problems, Intro to Cultural Anthropology, Chemistry and Society, Global Issues in Literature, Health and Social Psychology...the list goes on!
If you are shy and don't like to talk too much in class, don't worry. Yes, the professors know you by name and they will know if you miss class, but they are also good about not calling you out. I'm a shy person and I love classes at UMW. There is a lot of participation in class, and in my classes I've found that it's mostly student driven, depending on the professor. UMW just changed/updated their requirements, and I agree with all of them. There are typical general education requirements like every school. Many of the students don't like the foreign language requirement, which requires students to reach an intermediate level in their language of choice, or four semesters of the language if you start at the beginning.
Professors are good with knowing who you are as long as you show up to class. Some introductory classes however may be held in lecture halls sitting up to 70 or 80 people. UMW has very serious general education requirements making it true to its liberal arts title. From what I hear from upperclassmen, UMW is a great place to find interships for those seeking a political science, international affairs, or economics degree due to its close proximity to Washington DC. My only academic grievence is the occasional professor who just so happens to be completely cold and uncaring. Some UMW professors are so inflexible that it becomes difficult to get all your assignments in despite how studious and organized you may be.