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University of Maryland-College Park

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What are the academics like at your school?

UMD ranked 8th among four-year institutions for providing outstanding education at an affordable price for in-state students and 10th for out-of-state in the top 10 of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine's list of Best Values in Public Colleges for 2011-12. This alone shows UMD's high standing academic values. -As I have only completed two semesters here at UMD (fall and winter) I have taken a limited number of classes. Despite this, I have met many professors and been exposed to a great deal of the academic programs here at UMD. In the major introductory classes with 200-300 people (and also depending on the professor) your teacher may or may not know your name. This truly depends on whether you seek them out, introduce yourself, attend their office hours, and/or make an effort not to be just another student out of the 300. I did meet with some of my professors out of the classroom, but for serious subjects such as Biology and Chemistry. For other classes such as Sociology and English I did not feel the need to meet with my instructors, but I am certain that had I wanted to they would have made sure to meet with me. -The most interesting class that I have taken is "MUSC205 History of Popular Music, 1950-Present". My teacher is young, interesting, very knowledgeable and I truly enjoy attending this class every day. This is also the most unique class that I have taken. My least favorite class was English101 as the curriculum is so standardized it seems like you are not there to learn, but only to fulfill a CORE requirement as a student here at UMD. -I would say that class participation is very common- both by students and teachers. I have not taken a class yet where I felt as though I couldn't ask a question if I needed to or voice my opinion on a discussion topic. -I can only truly speak for myself about study habits, but one may be assured that at all hours of the day students can be found studying at McKeldin (the main library). There is never a time where I do not have to study. That doesn't mean that I always DO study, but there is always material to review and new information to learn. I believe that many students do have intellectual conversations outside of the classroom. Walking through a cafeteria it is likely that one would hear academic discussions about coursework, teachers, homework, academic programs, etc. -It is safe to say that if you are a student at UMD, you are competitive. You wouldn't attend this college if you weren't competitive. Some 20,000 people applied for admission this past year and only about 5,000 were accepted. There is not a doubt in my mind that students here are competitive, but it is not something that you deal with on a day to day basis in classes or when interacting with other students. -I am currently following the Pre-Pharmacy track here at Maryland as they do not offer this as a major. It is a career pathway that will prepare me for pharmacy school and my future career, but I have decided as of recently to declare my actual major as chemistry. I find this subject very interesting and, not to mention, pharmacists make a lot of money!! -UMD is a tough school, it's as simple as that. The academic requirements for all students are referred to as CORE classes- they are supposed to expose you to different academic subjects and allow students to take a broad range of courses, all of which are informative challenging. This is a nice touch to the college experience, but in my opinion I would rather save my time and money and take only classes that I need to graduate and move onto my career. I feel that at UMD the main educational focuses are geared toward both obtaining a job and gaining a solid education. The teachers and professors that work for this institute are no joke...they know what they're talking about! They want you to learn for your own benefit and for that of your future.

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At the University of Maryland, College Park, most of my professors did not know my name. However, this didn't bother me at all because my TA's (teaching assistants) knew my name and even more about me! My teaching assistants cared a lot about me and actually wanted me to succeed. My favorite class at College Park was my Comm 107 class, mostly because of the professor that I had. He was such a passionate professor that cared so much about his students. He was the type of professor that realized that teaching has more of a purpose than teaching for the test. He taught his students for life. We learned valuable communication skills that will be beneficial for job interviews. The worst class that I have ever taken was BSCI 120. Let me make something clear. This class was my least favorite class because of my professor. She did not want to help her students, and would not answer emails. The style of her teaching was very raw and boring. Her lecture were forced out of her mouth and she was not passionate at all. The material itself was very interesting, but the professor was rude and unfair. It is important for students to research their professor before they pick the classes they are going to register for. Since I was a transfer student, I had last pick of classes and professors! My major is currently Letters & Sciences. However, I plan on applying to the Communication school after my second semester of my sophomore year. If I was not a transfer student, I would already be in the Communication school. Once I get into the school, I plan on following the Public Relations track. Social media highly interests me, and I also want to make sure that I have a job where I can be creative! That is why I am going to take around six art classes, so that I can put it as my minor on my resume. I don't want to minor in Art History, so I talked to my advisor and asked him what classes I would have to take in order to minor in Art. It is crucial that students realize they can minor in whatever they want to. By making a simple advising appointment with my advisor, I was able to realize that I can take four to six art classes and just write Art as my minor on my resume. I do not spend time with my professors outside of class. Unless I go to their office hours to discuss a question, I feel like it is kind of awkward to do that. For the most part, professors at Maryland are always available to discuss any concerns that a student may have. Office hours tend to be flexible as well. TA's also make themselves available to students if they have specific questions or need extra help. University of Maryland's academic requirements are very reasonable. I can give you a very specific example of why their requirements are reasonable. My boyfriend, a sophomore, is currently a Communication major. He plans on applying to the Business school soon, and has made a map of what classes he will need to take to graduate on time. He can double major and still graduate in four years. If this isn't reasonable, I'm not sure what is! At Maryland, most lectures are geared towards learning for its own sake, not towards getting a job. However, this is such a broad and vague statement. It is too hard to generalize and say that every class is geared toward getting a job, or vice versa. Overall, I would say that classes integrate real life experiences and learning experiences as well.

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Overall I was incredibly understimulated by my classes at Maryland. I remember a few occasions of crying after class because of the sheer boredom and the feeling of being unchallenged by students and professors alike, and feeling like my mind was going to waste. As a freshman, I was planning to study English and Women's Studies, but after a year of taking some of the highest ranked classes available to me and still feeling bored and unstimulated, I knew I would have to choose another track. I remember going to the chair of the Women's Studies department and asking for permission to enroll in the Feminist Theory class even though I was a freshman and the catalog says that the course was restricted to upperclassmen. I told her I was unstimulated by my classes, that my friends at other schools were all studying theory, and that I was sure I was capable of taking the class. She refused. I later learned that I could have just registered and they never would have known, but it was too late. I took the English theory course with a professor who was reputed to be wonderful and felt condescended to, and felt that the material was dumbed down for us. At this point I'd had no exposure to theory and literary criticism but I knew there was better out there. I was in the University Honors program, which was billed as a way to make the university feel smaller and foster a community of intellectuals. That effort failed entirely. My "Honors Colloquium," a required 1-credit course, was a total joke and was taught by a sophomore. One of my Honors seminars was very good but the other two I took left a lot to be desired, and since the Honors students only comprised a small portion of the huge dorm, I didn't even know who was supposed to be in my supposed community, and they certainly didn't foster a more academic/intellectual air in the dorm. At the same time, my friends who majored in the sciences had a very different experience and found it challenging and stimulating.

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Classes at Maryland can be tough, depending on your major and what teacher you get. Some classes that are the same course at the same time are taught by different teachers with different methods and different grading styles and the outcome of course is different grades for the students. However, if you attend classes, reach out to teachers and TAs for help, and do the work they suggest, you can absolutely pass every class here AND get an A. My least favorite classes have been the general chemistry courses, but that is just because chemistry is a hard subject for me - I just don't get it! But, when I study hard enough I can still get the grades I desire. Class participation is common and often required in smaller classes. I would say students study at least 3 days per week, with most students devoting some time to studying every single day. The most unique class I have taken so far is definitely mammalian reproduction, which is part of my Animal Science/Pre-Vet major. For the past week we have been discussing homosexuality in the animal kingdom, whether it exists and is comparable to homosexuality in the human world. This is honestly a topic that I never even thought of and I now know so much about it! This is seemingly useless information, but I am coming to learn that same sex behaviors in the animal world do have a huge impact on reproduction in captivity, especially in our food animals! These classes definitely are focused on learning. Every teacher wants you to leave their class with knowledge about their subject at the end of the semester. But if you learn, then you will be better suited for ANY job, especially one in your major, than you would be without knowledge.

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I don't think the professors know my name but that isn't their fault. They have at least 100 other students in the class. I know at least one of my TA's knows my name. My favorite class would have to be Math141 just because I'm only taking two classes and I enjoy math when it can be applied to the real world. My least favorite class would have to be Psyc100 because although I enjoy the material covered in the class, the professor is the most boring person I have ever had to listen to. Also, my TA can't speak english very well and can't understand us, so our discussion class is basically a waste of time. I know students who study too much and those who would benefit from a little more. It depends on the class whether people participate. Since my Psyc100 class is boring no one really participates unless they are forced but, in my math141 class people ask questions and help each other out. There are a fair number of intellectual conversations outside of class. Especially if the students are in the same class. I haven't taken that many classes yet but, Last semester I took this HIST157 class which was the history of the United States since 1865. We looked at the US from an analytical point of view. We saw how all these events in our history connected in some way or another and how things became as they are today. I do not spend time with my professors outside of class, although they have office hours that people are welcome to go to. The education at UMD is geared toward getting a job. Especially in engineering they teach you how to think. The college has so many connections that create endless internship opportunities.

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Classes start large in early years, and gradually become smaller. In the business school (where I study) what were once larger classes have been split into smaller sections. Its happening constantly, as the school is very keen on being well-ranked and continuously improving. Thumbs up. Business majors have it the easiest. We hardly work or study. This has its drawbacks, as our education should be more challenging. Again, dead-focused on continuous improvement, the business school is making some major changes, effective next academic year, that will make classes much more challenging, and hopefully, more engaging. At the business school, significant investments have just been made to the career center, which should definitely further boost job opportunities for students and employer engagement at the school. Engineering students, on the other hand, have it incredibly hard. They are brilliant. Both business and engineering programs are very competitive and many students do quite well for themselves after graduating. Thus, I'd like to say that you find a wide range of intelligences here at Maryland. There are students that make you just wonder how on earth they got in and question Maryland's standard, but these guys are on their way out. Recently haven taken lower-level courses with current freshman and sophomores, I am happy to find that the students here have become smarter and more intellectual over the past few classes. We are a student body with ideas and opinions that we assert eloquently and back by data, when appropriate. Students in the sciences are also blow-your-mind brilliant.

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As an African American studies major I know my professors really well. I have a key to their office! But with the larger majors its much more difficult to make that kind of connection so students really need to make an effort to get noticed by their professors. Within my major (African American Studies) class participation is a fundamental component of the class Serious academic conversations happen all the time, especially within the activist community, world issues and other topics are frequent points of conversation. The African American Studies dept is really small and personal. I know all the staff and my advisor knows me really well. I have a really good relationship with the professors and I often talk to them about non class related things. I do think that the dept. is way under funded especially considering the caliber of the faculty within the dept. But Behavioral and Social Sciences in general is extremely under funded. Education here can be geared to learning to learn or to get a job it depends on the dept. and it depends on how the student takes the information given to them. The business school, criminal justice and the government and politics dept. definitely promotes just getting a job or going to law school. Only international development and conflict management seem to be interested in learning to learn. Smaller majors like American Studies, Sociology, Anthropology have students interested in learning for learnings sake.

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This all goes back to the whole major vs. university thing. Within the journalism school, I had a very close relationship with many of my professors. A lot of them ended up writing me recommendation letters and even giving me tips on jobs. My favorite classes in college (though it pains me to say) were my hardest. The journalism classes that tempted me to drop out of the major altogether, by far, taught me the most. For example, Journalism 320 and Feature Writing were a challenge throughout my entire semester. But, looking back, those were the most rewarding and were also taught by my favorite professors. Class participation is completely necessary and usually very common, especially in smaller classes. The most unique class I took was a winter course about women in hip-hop. Whenever I told friends and family about it, they couldn't believe that such a class existed. That is a true testament the the diversity and unique spirit alive on the Maryland campus. The academic requirements at Maryland do tend to fall heavy. I had to take winter and summer courses to graduate on time. While I understand that math, economics, science, computer science and a second language are all important, it was a little cumbersome to fit those, plus everything else, in four years. The education at Maryland is definitely geared towards getting a job. They offer a lot of courses related to job skills and host numerous career fairs throughout the year.

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Some of my professors do surprisingly know my name, and I rarely speak in class. Even in large lecture halls, it's easy to make your class seem smaller if you sit toward the front. My favorite class was likely one of my introductory history classes with Professor McNeilly. I've never seen anyone make history that exciting before. Another class, MUET200 with Dr. Sandstrom, I took had me attend a popular music concert and write a review as a final paper. Neither of these were in my major, I actually had to take them as part of our CORE requirements, but they were really excellent and I'm glad I did. I think although many people complain about the liberal arts CORE curriculum requirements, it is actually a very valuable part of our institution and the well rounded education we receive because of it. Students are somewhat competitive depending on the discipline. I'm currently a Physics major and I love it a lot. I was a Mathematics major as of last week, and switched out of it because of a loss of interest in the subject, nothing against the department itself. One of my professors had our honors seminar over to his house for dinner that his wife cooked, and that was really interesting. The education at UMD is good for a combination of being ready for the job market and to be well-versed in the subject area you are attaining a degree in, which I believe is a perfect combination.

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Some of my professors know my name and some don't. In large classes you have to go out of your way for them to recognize you. But I've had smaller classes where my professors knew my name and still do. One of my favorite classes thusfar in college was my Greek and Roman Mythology class. I've always been fascinated with it and my teacher was AWESOME. I didn't even care that it was a 10am. I enjoyed going to it. He was a little obsessed with Freud and phallic symbols, but it was so interesting and thought provoking. Class participation is common. Not so much about current events as much as your thoughts or trying to answer the question. UMD students definately have intellectual conversations outside of class. Sometimes I hear more interesting conversation outside of class than in the class. The most unique class I have taken so far has been my Internship Leadership Program. It's a class/program about Global Leadership. There was an interview process, I had to find an internship for a semester and next semester over Spring Break the 17 of us are living with Ugandan families in Uganda. I can't wait. I would say the major classes are definately geared towards teaching you everything you need to know for your field/major to get a job. UMD makes recruiters almost overly-accessable. There's so many times that they are there that you can't make them all.

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