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.
Academics are obviously rigorous, but the open curriculum allows students to avoid classes they really don't like. So, students get to take courses they want to enroll in and actually like.
The classes at UR generally range from academically stimulating to downright difficult. You'll surely end up taking a few 'easy A' courses (depending on your major, possibly a couple more than your friends), but in generally speaking, expect to do a good amount of studying and writing -- there are no easy majors.
One of the most unique aspects of UR's academics is how we handle required courses. Get this: there are no gen ed requirements at UR! Instead, we take clusters -- groups of courses geared toward some interest outside of our major -- to fulfill something akin to gen ed's. I'll spare you all the details in this brief description, but suffice to say it's definitely a unique system.
One of the things that drew me to UR was my major. It's called Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and in my experience it's a pretty rare major. It's a flexible degree that basically falls somewhere in between neuroscience and psychology. My work is closer to the neuroscience side of things, but unlike a neuro major, I get to spend my time learning about how the brain works, rather than how individual synapses and protein channels work. Pretty cool stuff!
My favorite class, and one of the more unique ones I've taken at UR, was called The Intelligent Eye. We got to learn about the anatomy of the mammalian eye, learn about how the brain processes several aspects of the visual world, and go on several lab visits to see firsthand how researchers are studying this stuff. My least favorite class was probably Calculus 162 (if you took AP Calc in high school, this class would be your next step), but this class is pretty much the same from university to university; I'm just NOT a math person.
It's tough to make generalizations about professors, since at any school the range of personalities will be vast. Overall though, I've found my professors to be very personable, knowledgeable and most importantly, willing to help. My advice would be to build a rapport with few of your profs, not all of them. I've even shared a beer with one of my favorite professors (don't fret, I was over 21).
Students are competitive, but more importantly, they're engaging. I've stumbled into conversations about everything from astrophysics to what it means to appreciate art, and I love that there's that type of ambiance around student conversation at UR.
Classes are small and there is definitely very good professor-stuent interaction. Most of the small classes are run in a workshop setting, where students are allowed to learn interactively. Students are very academically oriented and competitive. However, Rochester was one of the first places to run workshops, and students here respect that and reflect this environment by studying together and sharing knowledge. Biology, Optics, engineering, as well as economics and political science are some of the strong fields. Research in biology, psychology and optics are big in our school.
The academics at University of Rochester are great. However, due to significant amount of research the professors have to do in this school, sometimes they are not as focused about teaching their classes, or put 100% into their lectures. Students here study quite a bit, I know some people who study on Friday and Saturday nights, and that is challenging. My major is chemical engineering and our department is on the small side, mostly because of the number of students who are part of it. The department has its own building and several laboratories, that are open to undergraduates and graduate students. Students who choose to interact with their professors, do so. Similar thing happens to intellectual conversations outside of class. Some students are not as focused on interacting with others about intellectual topics, while some are extremely passionate, and get into some big debates regarding variety of topics.
The academics at Rochester are not for the faint of heart. The school is undoubtedly known for strong engineering and science programs, but also has strong programs in the humanities. The academic requirements are pretty loose, which allows you to take almost anything you want. I have strong relationships with most of my professors which allows me to talk about the material outside of a classroom setting as well as other current issues. In order to succeed at the highest level, a large amount of time needs to be devoted to your studies.
Humor writing, hands down. We not only got to give presentations on our favorite comedy writers/shows/authors, but we learned how to write and be funny. It really make reading things like the Onion and the daily show an art-and I'll never forget taking that class.
We get a rep for being a science/engineering school here, so English majors sometimes don't get the respect we probably deserve. I'm personally on the English Lit track and intend to become a college professor myself some day, but I've also gone through almost all of the Creative Writing classes, not to mention my brief stints in Computer Science and Psychology. I can't speak for professors in other departments, but the English professors are top notch here. They win all sorts of teaching awards and are nationally recognized as researchers. I've been to academic conferences (that the college has completely paid for for me to attend) at which the heads of international academic societies have expressed their extreme regrets that my adviser could not be there. Even better: if and when this happens, it will be the absolute FIRST time you realize how professionally important your adviser is. My adviser had always struck me as a brilliant academic and professor, but he wasn't at all arrogant about it. I've been to dinner at his house multiple times. He's driven me to off-campus events, introduced me to out-of-town scholars, spent summers helping me conduct my research for no benefit to him whatsoever. I know his wife, his kids, his grandchildren, and his favorite desserts. He is not the only professor for which these things are the case. That's what you get here, down-to-earth professors who take the utmost interest in their students' lives and progress... who also happen to be academic rock stars.
Students are passionate about their studies, and it shows. Professors in most departments care about getting to know students, even in large classes. That's definitely less true in some departments, but it is true of the majority.
Clusters are a huge part of academics. We have NO REQUIREMENTS! Rarely are classes closed to only majors, so anybody can take any class they want. Clusters are the heart of our curriculum; basically, every student has to take 3 classes in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. That's it! http://rochester.edu/College/CCAS/clusters/ for more.
Lots of students are very type A and they work for good grades. It's a friendly competitive most students wouldn't hesitate to help each other out. Classes range widely in size I've taken a large 101 class with 90 people and a 200 level English class with 4 people.
The cluster system is awesome. There's only one general education requirement a writing class, taken during your freshman year. After that you need to take 3 related classes in each field Humanities, Social Science and Natural Science. Your major covers one field and after that it's up to you. It's hard to end up taking many classes you don't like. Designing your own major or minor is really easy. Unless you are in engineering there's plenty of time for electives or going abroad. There's lots of cool classes on the history of rock, porn, fairy tales which can serve as a break in a science heavy schedule.
There's lots of opportunity for internships and my resume is much better for having attended a research university.
Professors in the Natural Sciences aren't easy to get a hold of and aren't that helpful. Every other area my professors have been really easy to talk to whenever I had a problem.
This one is sort of hard, because it really depends on your major. This year, as a freshman mind you, I have a literature class with 6 people in it. It's completely amazing. However, I also have a logic lecture course with about 50 people in it, and it's probably second only to the 6 person class. And then there are a lot of classes in between. Obviously the Natural Science courses are larger- the Humanities division is much more likely to have small classes. But I've never heard of a class here with over 200 people, which is really small compared to some schools. Class participation is encouraged by all the professors I've encountered, but obviously I can't speak for all.
The curriculum is Rochester's number one draw. There are three divisions, Humanities (think English, Women's Studies, Philosophy, etc), Social Sciences (Anthropology, History, Political Science) and Natural Sciences (sciences and math). You obviously need to major in one of these, and your major will have certain requirements based on what it is (English and History are probably the two most flexible; some of the sciences leave virtually no extra time for other classes), and you need to complete a "cluster" of three related courses in the other two divisions. It's really relaxed, and I love it. General education sounds absolutely terrible, and I'm so glad we don't have it here.
Students are competitive, but not in a bad way. We don't attack each other to make ourselves look good. It's more like "let's have an intellectual conversation".
I've heard a few intellectual conversations going on in the halls and on the quad, but I don't think they're really common. Then again, I doubt they are at many universities. There's a pretty large amount of work that goes into our classes, and once the homework is done you need a break.
I've had classes with over 300 other students and classes with only 5. Intro classes are generally large, but as you get more advanced and specialized, that will change.
Rochester advertises the fact that all professors are required to do research as well, but it's important to look at this fact from another perspective: all researchers at the University are required to teach. Unfortunately, this rule makes it much more likely that you will have professors who are not meant to teach. I've been at this school two years and have already lost count of the number of professors I've had who, though they are very smart people, cannot teach.
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.
There is a mixture of large lecture hall classes where the professors probably don't know your name, and small classes where they definitly will. The vibe on campus is less intelectual and more studious. The nice thing is that the academic requirements are very flexible. There aren't hoops to jump through in order to take most classes unless they are higher level classes. The campus itself is extreemly studious. It's totally common to see people studying at all hours of the night in the study locations on campus which are open 24hrs a day (there are two).
I really do like the freedom in the academics at the university and the classes themselves are quite good. I have not had that much personal interaction with my professors which I would like to improve upon, but many of my classes so far have been big lectures. It's also a little hard to find your way in that area as a freshman who is undecided because you really have no idea what to take. The advisors are as helpful they can be but they are just general advisors, the real ones come when you have settled on a major and picked a department. Also, the professor really makes the class. I have had some classes that could have been a lot better had I been more enthusiastic about the professor.
I also really like the writing class requirement, for it's help with essay-writing, but even more so for the interesting theme's they come up with. It's a great break from everything else that you're studying, and for me, it really gave me a hint as to something I was passionate about and maybe should look more into, because for the first time I enjoyed writing essays!
The cluster system is amazing. It lets you explore new and exciting topics. Professors are generally easy to get a hold of. The only exception would be the huge freshman lecture classes, but in those classes you have T.A.s that are more than happy to meet with you. The music department at Rochester is awesome. It's pretty small, but I like it that way because you get to know all the professors really well and they get to know you. Also having the resources at the Eastman school of music is an amazing oppertunity that only Rochester can provide.
The biggest downside to the campus size, in my experience, is that we have fewer courses each semester than bigger schools. You won't necessarily be able to find that narrow speciality course on the one decade of Albanian history that really fascinates you or whatnot. For its size, though, the course offerings are pretty good, and the Rochester Curriculum gives you tons of flexibility.
Speaking of the Rochester Curriculum... It's awesome! General ed requirements sound like a horrible idea, and they don't exist at Rochester. You have to take either a major, minor or cluster (3 related courses) in each of 3 broad thematic areas. Plus, you have to meet your major/minor requirements and take one freshman writing class. Other than that, it's up to you! With 32 classes in a normal full-time schedule over 4 years, and many majors taking less than half that many to complete (Poli Sci takes 12. History takes 10. Math/sciences usually take a lot more), there's usually tons of room (for Humanities/Social Sciences majors, anyway) to take random classes just for fun.
There's a wide difficulty range between different classes. If you plan your schedule entirely around easy grades, you could probably get a 4.0 without too much difficulty with a moderate amount of work. In some classes, you'll be buried to the neck in work just to pull a B. It pays to ask around, or to use various online resources to pick profs and classes.
As with the classes, students' grade consciousness varies a lot, too. There are a fair number of GPA competitive students trying to go to law school, grad school, etc. There are also a fair number of students who could care less so long as they don't get kicked out or lose their scholarships/grants. As I said, there's a wide range in class difficulty, so if you want a challenge it's there, but if you want to coast through you probably can do that as well.
As with difficulty, classes range a lot in terms of quality of discussion. I've taken some classes with discussion that was, in my opinion, easily grad school level. I've taken some classes where, every time certain students opened their mouths, I began to fantasise about jabbing my pen deep into my eye socket to poke a hole in my brain and end the misery. Smaller, higher level classes are obviously more conducive to good discussion. There are a variety of classes in the Comp Lit department that are usually under 20 students with over half grad students. These classes are awesome if you like good discussions and knowledge for its own sake. They will also never help you get a job outside teaching ;)
The Quest courses offered to incoming freshman are great. I took the one on Nonviolence, and it's one of the best classes I've ever taken. I've heard mostly good things about the other ones, too. If you find one that interests you, I highly suggest signing up for one.
The best thing about the academics at Rochester is the fact that you don't have to take any prerequisites except for a writing course your freshman year. Other than that, you only have to take the courses for your major and 'clusters'. Clusters are sets of three related courses that have to be in the two fields that are not in your major. For instance, if you were majoring in psychology, that is a social science, so you would have to take two clusters, one in the humanities and one in the natural sciences. They can be any three courses of your choice as long as they have some relation to each other.
The professors, at least in the biology and math departments, are incredible people. They are always willing to answer questions and make themselves available. The best class I ever took was Organic Chemistry, which sounds crazy, but because of small groupwork called workshops, I was able to master the material without ruining my sophomore year. Group work is very common and we have many communal studying centers in Rochester, and one is even open 24 hours.
The one problem about academics at Rochester is that I think people study too much and don't know how to study correctly. People are constantly in the library, and in the end may not do as well. This is probably typical of every school, but many people will sacrifice their social life completely at Rochester for the sake of academics.
Getting an education from U of R looks great in the professional world and will set you on the right path to a great career.
Great. We have an amazing literary classics, biology, writing (who knew), ASL, and political science department. We have great teachers, but that varies. you'll learn who to stay away from and who you MUST take. Education is particular to your major and students are competitive, but will help each other out - at least, in the humanities division. Students do a lot of allnighters and procrastinate in the library, sometimes amping out there, but usually it involves playing video games. Rochester students have dance parties, drunk fests, themed parties, moustache parties...all depending on what group you find.
I really like the professors at U of R because I feel like they enjoy what they are teaching. They are always enthusiastic, no matter how boring I think the subject is. Most of my classes have been large, too large for a professor to know who I am; but this doesn't really bother me.
Studying and reading pretty much takes over your life... It was rare that there was a time when there wasn't something i should be reading. It was manageable though, once you organize your time.
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.
The curriculum at Rochester is what makes this university so unique. Having no required, general education classes is great! At Rochester it truly is about opportunity and exploring things for yourself.
Toward the middle of Spring semester I went to my British Literature professor and confessed that I was completely lost in the class and basically had no idea what was going on. She sat down with me once a week and we went over the material, and after a while I started getting higher marks and actually participating in class. Going above and beyond for their students is typical for Rochester professors.
Academics are the driving force behind the University, and they are top notch. Students are very very involved in various academic activities and intellectual conversations all year long. The University recently won the Collegiate Quiz Bowl National Championship among other national achievements in academics over past years. But on a more, day to day level, UR students are very supportive and helpful of one another. We constantly are pushing each other to do better, while rarely ever putting anyone down. Its a very positive atmosphere, to have a bunch of young adults living some of their greatest years together striving for the same goals, with constant help and support wherever you turn, its very rewarding and mind boggling. However at times, you may want to kill yourself with the amount of work you will have, regardless of your major. It si all about time management. If you don't study enough, and enough is not HS enough its serious study time, one will either fail out due to apathy or in serious distress all semester, and will not take in the complete experience and opportunity at hand of being around such great people in college. However is one studies too much, one might want to throw themselves over the Genesse Bridge or completely unhappy with life, due to lack of social interactions. TIME MANAGEMENT..PROCRASTINATION WILL DESTROY YOU. I've been on both extremes of the spectrum and neither is fun at all. Once one develops that collegiate time management, the sky is the limit.
The Rochester name continues to gain more prestige each academic year. It is an excellent school. However, many of the professors do not seem involved with the students. Some are there to do research, and teaching takes the back burner for these professors.
Students study quite often, especially those with hard majors (BME, Biology, Math, Poli Sci, Economics). As an Economics major, I did not study as much as I could of or should of. However, it is the easiest of the harder majors.
All this studying results in a lot of library time. Usually, students go to the library in groups of two or more and camp out for a while with their books, food, etc. It's almost a social event, which almost makes library time fun. But not quite.
The career center is a joke. After they helped me revise my resume and cover letter, I sent both to several companies, hoping I would score an internship for the summer. I only had one interview, during which my potential boss told me that the format of my resume was sloppy and needed work. As a college grad, I could not get an internship.
Academics at Rochester are so versatile. This past semester I took a music class entirely on the Beatles while taking a class on the Crusades to fulfill my writing requirement... your choices are endless!
The classes at UR vary greatly. Most of my classes are lecture halls, and for them I sit way in the back and rarely participate. But for the few classes that are small for me, the teachers do know my name and I usually participate more than anyone else in those classes. I love my American Sign Language class because I have a lot of fun doing that and you really always need to be paying attention and participating. I hated Chemistry because there were about 400 people in the class and the professor read straight from his power point. I actually stopped going to that class and just going to the recitations because that is where we learned all of the math, and the math was the only thing on the tests. I wound up doing pretty well in the class so I'm glad I stopped wasting my time. A lot of UR students talk about classes outside of class, I am definitely not one of them; once I'm out of the class, I don't want to think about it until the next class. I also never talk to the teachers except my sign language teacher.. well I sign to him so. He was my favorite teacher and we signed a lot outside of class, I always enjoyed it. I actually only can think of a few jobs that I would like to do, and Rochester does not have the majors required for them, but Rochester will give me such a good education and is respected so much by people that I definitely want to stay. Also the fact that I may be able to create one of these majors really helps.
I am a double major in English and Political Science. Our political science department is one of the best in the country and I have enjoyed every class I have taken so far. English is smaller, but still a great department as a whole. I did take one class in the English department that I hated. The professor was visiting and ultimately was not asked back though, so I am hoping that it was a fluke.
In Rochester, we have an open curriculum, so you do not have to take any classes that you don't want to. We have a cluster program instead. You must take 3 classes that work together in 3 categories: Natural Sciences, Arts/Humanities, and Social Sciences. However, you major in one of these categories, so you end up taking classes in two of the categories. I am double majoring, so both my arts/humanities and social sciences clusters are covered by my majors and I only have to do a cluster in natural sciences. I think this is a better program than just having to take a class in science, a class in math, an art class, etc. because you truly learn about a subject instead of just taking "rocks for jocks." I would rather not have to take anything that I don't want to, though.
The smaller the classes, the better. I wish I had had more seminar classes, which was a sacrifice I made when I chose to come to a medium-sized school rather than a teensy-tinsy liberal arts school. However, the resources at Rochester are definitely good for its size, and I feel that the professors do their best even in lecture classes to give a personalized experience.
Well, in my major (psych) it starts out that all your classes are huge but then as time goes on the get smaller and smaller. most of the psych department has at least a vague idea of who i am and maybe 4 professors know me personally due to me going to talk to them or having a smaller class with them. our psych department is really stellar as far as the professors that are on staff but less and less of them are actually teaching the undergrad courses now and theyre having their phd students do it which really isnt as good. what inspired me most was my 181 class. it was taught by Rich Ryan who is pretty much the awesomest man around and i learned a lot, had a good time and was inspired to continue doing psych. however... now a ta teaches it and its far less awesome.. in fact all accounts ive heard are that its boring. all that aside... rochester has a really good support system for serious psych students who want to get a phd after undergrad/ do research. you can work with a grad student as an ra your freshman year and the "honors degree" in psych has a course regiment that leads you into doing your own research one step at a time. you end up knowing the whats hows and whos of research and completing an experiment of your own. its great for networking and such. oh and the cluster system is awesome. no gen ed except for a singular writing class. and as long as you do at least 3 courses of your choosing in each of the three subject areas you have completed the req. like me.. i am a psych major (that takes care of the social sciences area) and music minor (that takes care of the humanities req) and i'm doing 3 classes of brain and cognitive science (that takes care of the hard sciences req) and thats all the gen ed i have to do. really the academic system and quality of education is rochester's biggest selling point. i love the way its set up and i love about 80% of my classes which is more than anyone could ask for.
very very hard workers, classes not that hard
The academics of Rochester is definitely among the strongest one could imagine. All the professors are great, and the classes are all mostly enjoyable. The classes are very challenging of course, and the work loads can sometimes be overwhelming. But the school is good at training students to prepare for their future careers in the real world, and the competitions definitely give enough people motivation. Rochester is a school composed mostly of intelligent, serious students who take studying very seriously, and our training often goes beyond what's required of our fields.
I am pre-med, majoring in either French or Biology. Very time consuming but definitely worth it given Rochester's outstanding science/math reputation. There are also a lot of research/intern opportunities in the labs and at Strong Hospital which is located next to campus.
There is only one requirement- a writing class which you get to choose from a wide array of intersting subjects.
Rochester is top notch academically and depending on the department there is some grade deflation actually. Poli Sci is known to be the major for probably a third of greeks because it's easy, but there are also greeks who are biomedical engineering majors too so it varies. 70% of students are very serious about school and work really hard during the week and maybe relax one day on the weekend. I've had countless intellectual discussions out of class but for the most part you're too busy studying. Most students are genuinely interested in learning things although some classes people just try to get by in. Education at Rochester is geared toward learning not getting a job and the career center isn't very helpful there so be prepared to do a lot of work to land a good job or internship.
The academics here are tough, but manageable. Again depending on your goals / major will greatly affect your experiences here.
In the biological sciences it is a challenging experience with many opportunities to expand yourself beyond the courses. I say this because there are ample opportunities to work in a lab that suits your interests. The undergraduate department is very mixed in with the graduate departments both at the River campus (the main undergraduate campus) and at the UR Medical center and Strong memorial hospital (medical / biomedical research). Also when you enter your junior year (or earlier if you're special ;] ) you start taking classes that first year graduate students also take. The nature of the course changes from buying textbooks and memorizing all the details to looking at original papers and studying them in depth. You learn about how experiments are performed and how they have shaped the course of modern biological sciences. So the experience is really two fold, you get the academic knowledge of the results of the experiments but also the practical knowledge of how the experiments were done.
Professors are usually trying to keep the class interesting and try to offer classes that are interesting to them and the student body. I actually am a double major in Economics and Microbiology + Immunology (that's actually one major), so I have taken a few classes that have bridged my interests. For example, Health Policies, which is an economics course geared at looking at the financial structure and economic consequences of the modern health care system. By the end of the course we had a discussion as to the benefits and costs of the current US health care system in comparison to other nations.
On the biology side of things there are several new courses that are interesting such as "Biology of Aging" and "Biochemical differences between Male and Females."
Now getting to know your professors is really up to you. A majority of the professors that I have met are really approachable and are genuinely trying to help you learn. Plus there's a plethora of additional academic support if it's needed.
You'll probably hear this from the UR people, but the curriculum at UR isn't as rigid as most schools. The only real mandatory class is the freshman writing seminar, but with good enough English credentials you can usually opt out of it. The cluster system at UR is a way to allow students to try other courses to see if they have any interest in that area. There are three clusters to satisfy: Natural Science (Math..bio...chem...etc), Social Sciences (Economics, Political Science, psychology...etc) and Humanities (Art, Music, Literature, etc) For example I am a Microbiology + Immunology major (satisfies my Natural science "cluster"), Economics major (satisfies my social science cluster). So I need a cluster in humanities. In my case I take music classes which continues my long standing musical interest.
I am a BME and my major is very competative and challenging, my major has approx 40 kids so the professors of my BME specific classes know my name but other than those classes im just another face in the crowd. My classes require a great deal of hw, more so than all other majors other than other engineers. So most of my time is spent doing homework, or labs, kids typically do the pretest cramming, not unusual, and unless I have something thats urgent, I typically dont really do anything productive. What 20 year old kid wants to talk about the shit that they spend all their time on during the week, when they have free time. Personally for the most part I dislike the other kids in my major, they are a bunch of brown nosers and are completly uncapable of socializing in a normal fashion, they seem to enjoy hanging out with the professors and faculty. Rochesters "cluster" system is essentially the only graduation requirement outside of your major, being an engineer I only have to take one cluster where as normal students have to do 2, but ,my cluster was spanish, and outside of my engineering classes and spanish, it has taken til my senior year to be able to even take a single class that was of my choosing. The schooling that I have done so far has really just taught me to learn how to deal with doing alot of meaningless shit at once, and dealing with stress involved, through what ever means needed.
there is a great variety of large, medium, and small class sizes. i've taken some typical college intro classes in large lecture halls with 200 or so people, and i've also taken smaller lecture/discussion based classes with 30 people. both of them suit their purposes. while rochester is definitely known for the sciences, i am not a science major and have taken some great classes. my favorite class was a european history course; the professor was incredible, gave great lectures, assigned interesting readings, and kept the class captivated for the entire semester. there are some lacking departments (apparently our economics department is ranked highly, but the professors that i've had are very below average). i do really like the academic freedom at rochester, which you will probably hear about over and over if you are interested in rochester. when i came on to campus, i really didn't know what i wanted to study, and the great variety of classes and minimal requirements gave me the ability to try out many different subjects to see what i liked. depending on what major people have, they may be very driven and focused on getting a job (pre-med, engineers), but not everyone is like that at all.
There is such a refreshing amount of freedom in the curriculum at U of R. It truly goes by the philosophy of "Learn what you love; love what you learn." Even as a double-major, the requirements are so flexible that I've been able to explore many areas of interest outside of my majors.
Class sizes really depend on the course. Humanities classes tend to be on the smaller side, as are the more upper-level classes. They're usually under 20 people. There are a bunch of bigger lecture courses, too, especially introductory science courses, which have over 100 people in them. So it really depends on what you're taking.
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 _______."
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.
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.
Since I'm majoring in a smaller department at Rochester, professors know me by name and know my work, but the majority of students here would not be able to say the same thing. Many students are stuck in lecture classes and have more interaction with TAs that teach their labs or recitations than the actual professors. The work load is tough, but we're supposed to be smart students, so we should expect it. The graduation requirements do not include GenEds, which make many students happy and allows them to explore many fields.
Academics are done well at U of R. There are many sections of the common pre-requisite classes (such as Calc 161), which are expressed in a large classroom format, but most classes are small enough for students to actually be able to interact with the professors. U of R also has only one required class (a freshman writing seminar), and although taking a certain number of classes in various fields is necessary, U of R makes it easy to do, so even freshman can take classes in their major or classes that simply interest them.
The Cluster system is awesome. It's the main reason that I came to Rochester, and sort of the reason that I couldn't leave it.
How is works is there are three sections of subects, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities.... i think that's how it's broken up. If your major is Natural Sciences (like if you were a chem major like me) you pick one subject from each of the other two and take three courses in them. As a chem major i got to take three creative writing classes (which were excellent) and I will complete my psych cluster soon, both things that i am very interested in. However, i tried to transfer once and because no other school has this system, i more of less would have been back to square one if i left.
Oh, you also have to take a writing class, but there are a million subjects that these are on, i took one on Punk Rock, which is also something i'm interested in.
Along with an generally excellent Chem Faculty (and most people in other subjects have been great as well) this is an excellent school for academics.
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.
The biggest departments are in the sciences, which has its pros and cons. You never get to know the professors, but you have literally hundreds of student resources if you are having trouble or need a study partner. With that said, some of the departments are certainly lacking as far as variety or funding is concerned. Study Abroad is a must, as the University makes it easy to fit into really any schedule. The cluster system here has replaced a set of core requirements but makes it hard for transfer students, because all that credit must be taken at Rochester. Regardless of the department the classes will be challenging. Students aren't cut-throat, but rather dedicated to their own work. I have never met someone unwilling to help someone else out.
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?).
Real tough grading
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.
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