St. Thomas prides itself on expectations of excellence in all areas, but most importantly academics. Small classes and professors who genuinely care about their students are huge factors in the success of St. Thomas students. I have taken 12 courses thus far, and I have only had one class that had more than 20 students. Each of my professors knew my name and that I preferred to be called Jessi instead of Jessica. They knew my work and were almost always available to meet with me if I needed to help with an assignment or needed advice about other classes. My favorite class so far has been my Public Communication course. It is a class of 10 people, including myself, and we have been learning about all forms of public communication from giving speeches to recording public service announcements in a studio. The thing I love about this class is that we don't just talk about theories and techniques, but we are able to actually practice them by giving speeches and record ourselves in our Tech Studio. This class challenged me by forcing me to confront my fear of public speaking and gave me the opportunity to learn skills I may not have had the opportunity to learn otherwise, such as how to edit an audio recording or run a camera in a TV studio. The class I enjoyed the least was my math class during my freshmen year. My professor was wonderful and I did well in the class, but math is not my forte. I am an English major and Communication/Journalism minor, and that is partially because I find math and anything involving math very boring. One thing that I really enjoy about the students of St. Thomas is their desire to really learn what the professors are teaching. Through the level of participation in class and the conversations students have with each other outside of class, it's obvious that the students here are taking in what they have learned and are applying it to both how they view the world and how they behave in society. St. Thomas students love to get involved in a variety of organizations on campus that are geared towards making our community better, and this is often spurred by the knowledge they obtain from their classes and peers. I have found that the goal of St. Thomas is not just to teach its students the theories and facts written down in books, but how to apply what they know in order to be a good citizen and a good worker. St. Thomas is trying to create competitive students who are motivated towards being the best in their fields. The goal is to teach students what they need to know to do their job, but also to be good citizens looking to contribute to and improve society. For example, (as I mentioned before) I am an English major and a Communication/Journalism minor, and in my classes, I don't simply learn how to write and analyze text-- I have learned the power of communication and literature. We have discussed in several classes how we have the power to communicate messages to others, therefore we have the opportunity and responsibility to communicate message that will benefit society, rather than harm it. The English and Communication/Journalism departments, like many of the departments at St. Thomas, are very good at helping students to figure out what career path best suits each individual student. The academic requirements for graduation allow each student to expand his or her horizon, and doesn't force one to need to know immediately what major or career they want to persue. St. Thomas requires students to take introductory courses in all basic fields such as Math, History, English, and etc. However, St. Thomas also requires students to study foreign language, Philosophy, Theology, and Music. This is to allow students to be well-rounded and give them a chance to discover new interests. St. Thomas understands that the key to a student's success is their desire and interest to learn, and I believe that the format of the university's academic system helps to foster that interest and desire in all of its students.
St. Thomas has a wide range of students when it comes to academics. It's a liberal arts university so the majors range from English and Education to Neurobiology and Engineering. Student study habits vary too. Most students are pretty dedicated to their work, though. I've done a fair amount of group work so far, and I've never felt like anyone was slacking off on their part. Professors are for the most part really easy to get in touch with. They hold office hours and encourage students to drop by just to talk. They really try to create a relationship with their students. My philosophy professor had my class over to his house for pizza one afternoon just to get to know each other. Overall St. Thomas is really dedicated to keeping their students well-rounded in their education (hence the general requirements) and also helps students plan toward their career. The Career Development Center helps students find internships and jobs. Plus they offer resume seminars and mock interviews for students to help with their interviewing technique!
Professors love what they teach. A lot have the highest degree in their field. My favorite class was my freshman English class. I've always loved that subject, but was nervous about how I'd do out of my element of the same high school teachers. In the classroom, we sat in a circle and shared our thoughts about the latest readings. When we wrote papers, we got into groups to help each other out in grammar and the like. Even though the class was at 8am, I always looked forward to it. Students often study in the library or at their homes, but only when necessary. Sundays are big homework days. Conversations outside of class usually have more to do with weekend plans than 'intellectual' topics. You'll find a mix of it all though. St. Thomas gears is students toward finding a job and has a great Career Development office that I'm finding more and more useful as I get closer to graduation. They hold resume writing lessons and organize companies to come to campus to get students informed.
The professors are AWESOME. They all try to know your name within the first couple weeks, and many remember you long after you are through with their class. Class participation is pretty common, especially since class sizes are usually around 20ish. My freshman year I had a class of 13 and last semester I had a class of 9. We all got to know each other really well, and the professor too! The acadmeic requirements here are a little tedious, but it's a liberal arts school so you should expect to take several different subjects anyway. Some of my favorite classes have been generals, actually. As far as studying goes, sometimes you can get away with not reading and just showing up for class, but eventually your grade will probably take a hit. Junior year your papers start getting longer, so that's kind of a drag. But by then you're studying things you could see yourself applying to the rest of your professional career, so you may as well write them well and know your stuff.
My professors not only know my name but also my interests, ideas and views. I've had so many phenomenal professors that I can't pick a favorite. I've learned from every class, no matter how interesting (or once in a while boring) the professors have been. St. Thomas has core requirements ranging from English to math to theology, but they're not overwhelming. I still had plenty of time to pick classes I was interested in taking. For the most part, my classes have featured discussion rather than strict lectures. Students are eager to participate, which allows for more interesting classes. The study abroad program at St. Thomas is wildly popular, and something like 60% of students study abroad before graduation. Some students go for an entire semester through programs like the London Business Semester or Catholic Studies Semester in Rome, while others go to Egypt, Australia, Ireland, Thailand, Hawaii or many other locations for J-term classes.
Most classes average about 15 to 20 students. Typically, professors know the name of every student in the class and show a sincere interest in their well-being. My professors have always been willing to talk with me after class or schedule an appointment with me to discuss a paper, test or class material. The professors encourage learning and want students to be successful in their classes. The university also has an honors program. Students are invited to be in the program and if they are accepted, must maintain a certain GPA in order to stay in the program. Honors students are allowed to take Honors classes which have smaller class sizes are based more on discussion rather than lecture. In my experience, Honors classes have been more interesting and fun compared to regular classes because students actively engage in class discussions and show a greater desire to learn.
I have never had a class larger than 18 people (the average class size is 21) and my professors all learned my name within the first few days. As to how much people study, that's pretty much up to you. My friend goes to the library constantly, while I tend to do my homework in my dorm room at the last minute :) It's entirely up to you...that's the freedom of college. To those students who are undecided about a major, I actually discovered my major through taking a "gen-ed" required core class, so there are plenty of options and classes to explore before you have to decide. Plus, the classes themselves are great. Yesterday I watched my chemistry professor light a balloon filled with copper on fire, just to see the chemical reaction. I doubt I could find better professors anywhere else
Learning from professors at St. Thomas is one of the easiest and most rewarding experiences one can have in a lifetime. I went into the university set to be a Math major, and now I am in my junior year and almost done with my English with a Writing Emphasis major and an American Culture and Difference minor. My major switch was due to the classes I took and the professors who taught me. They revealed me to myself and introduced me to things I had never tried before but enjoyed immensely. I never knew how much I loved to write creatively before my freshman English professor had us explore our abilities. St. Thomas is a wonderful place to continue on a path of a lifelong dream, or also to perhaps spark an entirely new dream.
The knowledge and information you gain while attending St.Thomas will be of use throughout your life. The professors at St. Thomas want to see their students succeed and offer help to do so. The class size is kept so small professors remember your name and can engage in productive and interactive conversations. If you can't meet with a professor during their office hours they will work with you and try to find a time and date that will work. The one big requirement of St.Thomas they have for their students is they must take 3 courses of Theology and 2 courses of Philosophy.
So far, I have been very impressed with the academics at St. Thomas. Professors really care about the students here and are very willing to help outside of the classroom setting. The core requirements ensure that every student graduates with a fundamental understanding of a variety of topics. I have been quite pleased with the Education Department. As a freshman, I have already started my education classes. Education majors are required to have between 90 and 160 hours in a classroom before student teaching! The professors are very knowledgable and devoted to the students.