Professors usually do know my name... at Eastman we generally have small enough class sizes, and at the River Campus, I'm "that Take 5 girl from Eastman," so yeah. My favorite class this past semester was British History to 1485. Medieval Britain really interests me and Professor Kaeuper is great. I've never taken any really awful classes. Even if students don't always want to participate, the teachers force them to, which is probably good. Students do have intellectual conversations outside of class... I remember first going to Eastman and sitting on the sidelines of many conversations about books that I had never read. Eastman students also tend to talk a lot about playing, their rep, famous musicians, etc. Eastman students are definitely competitive because that's the nature of our art, but we all try to be nice about it. The most unique class I've taken has probably been either British History to 1485 or a class I took freshman year about Hamlet... we read a lot of other plays that were either like Hamlet, pre-cursors to Hamlet, sort of sequels to Hamlet (Like "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" haha)... I'm a voice performance major, so um... we take lessons, choral ensembles, lyric theatre/opera workshop, diction and language classes, voice repertoire, and the other things that other music majors have to take like theory and history. The Take 5 program gives students an opportunity to apply for a free 5th year to study a specific topic unrelated to the student's major. My topic is "Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, Predecessors, and Successors." The Take 5 Administrator is an awesome guy and is very helpful when the student is creating his/her program. The education I'm getting at Eastman is definitely geared toward getting a job. As our Assistant Dean of Student Life once said to me, it's like a trade school. U of R, however, I feel is into learning for learning's sake -- of course I would say that; I'm in the Take Five program. haha.
EVERY SINGLE PROFESSOR I'VE HAD KNOW MY NAME! That is something that you will not get everywhere. Also, every class I've ever taken, even the "huge" intro classes have had under 100 people in them. Most of them are much smaller. I've taken two classes with under 10 people, and most are in the 30-50 range. Class participation is very common. Some people talk more than others, of course, but most people are really psyched about their classes if they've chosen the right ones -- there is a very lenient drop/add policy. Students like to get good grades, but we are by no means competitive with each other. That is a REALLY good thing. I've heard about people in other schools sabotaging each other just to get out on top. Here we do a lot of collaborative work, and there is none of that super competitive BS because almost everyone has different academic interest because of the school's academic variety. I spend some serious time with my professors outside of class. Being in academic councils/societies does that to people, but I talk to them outside of class all the time. Just today there was an English department eat and greet, and I talked for like 10 minutes to a professor that I had last semester and haven't seen since. They're really interested in how our lives are going, and we're really interested in theirs. The academic requirements, as I said earlier, are the best thing about this place because there are none. It gives you complete control over what YOU want to take, and that is awesome. The only thing that you need to do is the stuff that is required by your major and take one semester of a writing class. By the way, you can pass out of the writing class, but they have so many different writing class options anyway that you can almost certainly find one that you would be interested in. I'm taking a class on Robin Hood and James Bond (awesomeness much?).
As a humanities major (and frequent visitor to social science courses), the small class-sizes were one of the things I appreciated most about Rochester. Not only was it easy to develop relationships with fellow classmates, but (more importantly) with faculty as well. The professors are amazing resources, but only when they're available. And Rochester understand that part pretty well. I have to admit that coming from a high school that had fewer than average AP courses and college prep programs, it was initially difficult to adjust to the intensity with which many students approach their education at Rochester. But, fortunately, the competition is one that each individual engages in with her/himself. Even though people are very serious about their education, the administration and the school's curriculum encouraged the liberal arts education ideal – studying what one is most passionate about, and not necessarily what will bring future economic/social stability. Not to mention, the absence of "basics" or "core" courses was also a big incentive. The "cluster system" is not perfect, but I think it beats spending my first two years finishing core requirements before actually engaging in my field. I've been to professors' houses, drank with them, called (some of) them by their first names and used their letters of rec to get me into top grad school programs. Nothing was better than when I would meet a faculty member from a prospective graduate school and listen to their responses when I told them where I did my undergrad – "Oh, that's a really great school! You must know Professor _______."
The academics here are great. One of the reasons I chose this school was because I felt like it was so well rounded that if I decided to change my major I would still be receiving an excellent education. The classes here are small in comparison to other Universitys. The professors really care about the students and want you to succeed in their classes. They are definitely not out to get you. I feel like everyone at Rochester is intelligent and because of that there really is no competition. If I tried my hardest and did the best I could that is all that matters and the same goes for everyone else. So far my favorite class has been the History of Rock and Roll Class with John Covach he is amazing. He was a hippie in his early years but doesn't openly admit it. The great thing about this school is there are no General Education class requirements so you can basically take whatever you want. I can explore my options rather than getting stuck and not knowing my possibilites. They really want you to become the best person you can be. It not all about the job but about the education you receive and the experiences. For example they really encourage going abroad which I plan on doing and you get credit for it.
I took a class called "Storytelling in the Indian Tradition" and we read folk tales and fairy tales from all different religions and cultures in India and wrote two papers about them. It was amazing, the professor was amazing (Brooks) and it inspired my cluster in Hinduism. On the topic of class sizes it depends on your major, if you're a bio major you'll have 200+ student classes until about your second semester sophomore year, if you're a Physics and Astronomy major like myself, you'll rarely have a class thats above 40 students unless its a math class. My intro astro class was 11 students(4 were girls) and the second level was 5 students (4 were girls). I love the U of R because I don't feel like they are training me to become just another cog in the machine of the working world, they truly want you to use this time as time for yourself to learn what you want to learn for the sake of learning and joy of knowledge. Though at the same time I do feel as if I will be able to get a job when I graduate or find a grad school. Theres a great career center that helped me apply to REU programs and made over my resume.
Excellent professors, very strong in the sciences, particularly in Optics and Biomedical Engineering. Also strong programs in Physics, Mathematics, chemistry, etc...Other departments are not as famous, though there are outstanding professors throughout the university. No core required classes, students must fulfill "clusters" in the two major areas which they are not concentrating on. For example, a physics major is majoring in a Science, and therefore must complete "clusters" in a social science, and a humanities subject. I personally am a Mathematics major, with my social science cluster in psychology, and my humanities cluster in Japanese. The cluster system is an excellent way to ensure that students have some variety in their curriculum, without forcing them to take courses they are not interested in. Its surprising that it is not a more common system in universities.
The University of Rochester takes academics very seriously, and we have been called a "new Ivy League" school status; implying that the methods used in the classroom and demands of the students are very vigorous. As a result many of the classes are very cut-throat and competitive, which is not a surprising reaction at a school filled with students who were at or near the top of their high school graduating classes. The Rochester curriculum provides fantastic opportunities for students to explore the different divisions of academia, of which anyone who attends here should take advantage. With the Cluster system rather than multiple required courses such as gym that all the students must take, students have the ability to choose something that they like or at least can tolerate instead of putting up with tedious required courses.
The best thing about this school is that everything could be so easy, if you weren't an engineering major or on a pre-med track. These intended studies have a mandatory curriculum, so while the school boasts that you can slap together a proposal of study and show how each is relevant to your end-goal, you can't make up your own chemical engineering major. Besides that, forget how smart you thought you were, and prepare to be humbled by your peers. Besides just here, but in life there will always be some one who knows what you don't. There is competition, as there should be, but it isn't cut-throat, and if anything it promotes learning, collaboration, and trust. For lecture classes, participation isn't really expected, but in classes with a 10:1 student instructor ratio, your voice is expected to be heard.
The academics are...hard! This is not at all an easy school. And the so-called "easy" courses are not easy at all. If your a hard worker, and are doing really well in your high school (I guess top 10-20%) you should do fine. Rochester only has ONE academic course requirement!...a writing course. The only other requirement is that you major in something, and cluster (which is 3 related courses) in two other topics. Overall you have to major (in 1) and have cluster ( n 2 others) in a natural science, a social science, and a humanities. look it upon the website it you want it explained better. Itmay sound confusing, but believe me, it is awesome. It leaves so much room for your personal taste in subjects, and usually makes it very easy to double major (or even triple!) because of the flexiblity.
I can't speak for every department, but in the English department, many of the professors are charismatic and enthusiastic. If you want them to know you on a name-basis, you hae to make a genuine effort, though. The music department fails in its ability to push students in their abilities; because of the Eastman school of music, which many U of R students can take advantage of (I took guitar lessons there but did not this year-- many people there seem stuck up), the university department has limited space for practicing (esp. for bands), and not enough ensembles to serve everyone who wants to join. In high school I was interested in visual arts but was unable to pursue them here because the art building caters to only art majors. This school is meant for science-oriented majors.