My classes, being a freshman, are rather large (200+) in lecture. Discussion sections; however, provide a more intimate and intensive learning environment. There's a lot of homework to be done, but we all have plenty of time to do it.
A college education is harder than a high school education, and rightfully so, but college is better in nearly every way. My classes are difficult, but the courses offered by UW-Madison are so varied and specific, they all pertain to my interests, especially now that I'm an upperclassmen and have my majors declared. I'm in a film production class and I got to use at 1950s Bolex camera, physically cutting and splicing 16mm film to create my project. The next week, I got to use a Sony NX5U HD camera to film a documentary on the subject of my choosing. There's so much opportunity for personal creative input it makes class engaging and exciting the whole semester long. With the quality of my professors, I don't want to skip class, because I enjoy lecture. Now that I'm in only advanced level German classes, all my classes are taught entirely in German, and usually by native speakers.
As a Senior, I love my classes. As a Freshman, not so much.
As a Freshman you are mostly concerned with knocking out requirements, many of which do not have the slightest connection to your future aspirations. Similarly, not having chosen a major can make things difficult. For instance, classes like Psychology, Calculus, Economics, and Biology hindered my GPA, as I had to take these classes that I was not interested in for requirements or for majors that I eventually abandoned. The key is to make sure you put as much effort into these courses as you would more interesting ones. Also, wait a semester or two before choosing classes specific to a major that you aren't fully committed to. Know that at a university of this size, almost all introductory courses and requirement courses are in massive lecture halls accompanied by small weekly discussion sections, and for better or worse, T.A.'s will be grading your work.
Four years later, as a Senior, I'm a dedicated and interested English Major. My classes are mostly small lectures of anywhere between 15 and 30 students, face to face with the professor. Rather than choosing classes considered as requirements, British Literature or Shakespeare for example, I can choose classes that are very specific and intriguing, a la Dissent in 20th Century American Literature and Literature of New York City For the truly intellectual student, who values conversation and active participation in learning, these are the classes to look forward to.
It really depends on which class you take. There are smaller more personal classes available that offer more one on one time, but there are also larger lecture classes, mainly those that are required for given majors. All and all, no matter the class size, the teachers are accessable and very encouraging, not to mention the great TA staff we have.
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