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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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What are the academics like at your school?

My professors know my name--English is a small major. Language and Society is really interesting because you talk about dialects and language differences, but I really like my British Author class about Jane Austen. Least favorite--no idea. I study, read, and write papers everyday. However, English majors have a lot of work to do, despite what everyone thinks. The farther along you are the more you study, but the better you are at it. I've always studied a lot to keep up my grades, but I definitely study more now than I did as a freshman. In my bigger classes, I never said anything (more than 100 people). Now, I talk everyday in all of my classes--for most of them, it's part of my grade. I have intellectual conversations outside of class, but only with certain people and not all the time. It happens. I'm competitive with myself more than anyone else. Some people might compete with others, but I don't have a clue what grades other people get. It's nothing like high school where you might be trying to be the best in the class. I'm ranked really high in my major, but I have no idea who is up there with me. Unique class would be Writing Center Theory--I get to tutor in the Writing Center for the class. As an English major, I read everyday and write lots of papers. I don't think there's such a thing as an "easy major" at Tech--people may have majors with easier subject matter (of course English is easier than engineering), but I still have to work hard to make good grades. Some majors only need to study about 4 times a semester for their 4 exams, but I have work everyday. That's hard when you have other things to do. The English department is amazing--very supportive and familiar. I spend time with professors outside of class--meet with them in their offices, etc. Tech definitely requires a lot of students in order to complete majors--more than UVA. Why do you think there are so many double majors at UVA? I wonder if people have ever looked at that, or just assumed UVA has better liberal arts programs just because Tech isn't based on liberal arts? I think my education is geared toward getting a job. Sometimes I wonder why I learn some things, but Professional Writing is very career-oriented--I do things any technical writer would do. Also, in my literature classes, I learn things I'll need when teaching.

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There are lots of very large classes at Virginia Tech. Many general courses like Intro to Theatre or Psychology have about 500 students. Personally, I enjoy this atmosphere. There is less pressure, and usually the teachers are very good. In fact, looking back on my 4 years of classes, I enjoyed most those huge ones. There's less pressure to impress your teacher, and chances are you know a bunch of people who you get to sit with. The teachers do cool things when they have such large groups. They are under immense pressure having so many students that they really come through with interesting lectures. It's kind of like going to a show sometimes, with movie clips and attention getters very plentiful. Students are competitive. Good colleges, such as this one, weed out unmotivated people before they even get a chance to come here. People do their homework here, and people take studying for tests very seriously. It's so refreshing to be in an environment where so many people care about academics. It's motivating. There is, however, a less close relationship with professors, which can make it difficult when it comes time for recommendations and things of that nature. But if you make the effort, you can form relationships with professors in large classes. They often encourage students to stop by their offices, even if just to say hello. I'm a Communication major and my only complaint with the department is that it's difficult to get the classes you need. Since there are not enough teachers, students are sometimes forced to take classes they don't even need because they're unable to get a spot in the ones they do need. That can be very frustrating. But all in all, I feel looked out for by my department. When it comes time for teacher evaluations, except in maybe 2 or 3 rare occasions, I've rated my teachers near perfect. They're pretty great for the most part.

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Professors of small classes know my name. As a junior, almost all of my classes are of curriculum that I am interested in and the only classes I do not enjoy attending are the ones where the professor is unenthusiastic and gears the class periods toward answering questions from the reading rather than lecture on the material. Students will study some most days of the week in preparation for intense studying the few days before an exam. Students do have intellectual conversation outside of the classroom on US and world politics, religion, literature, and much more. Students are competitive but not the extent of a university like Virginia. VT students compete against themselves and the class curve to get the highest grade they can. Overall the atmosphere concerning academics is focused, serious, at times stressful, but not at an extreme. The most unique class I've take has been Language and Logic, a philosophy course which satisfies a math credit since logic is mathematical. We studied arguments and analyzed the flaws in legal cases which opened my eyes to how much the English language can be manipulated. I am a finance major. I believe in the importance of an understanding of the country and global monetary system and overall economy in order to make sound judgments about how to allocate my personal assets and other decisions over the course of my life. Considering the complexity of this topic and my interest in it, I am confident Virginia Tech will supply me with resources to make this wealth of knowledge into a promising career. I go to professors for clarification sometimes outside of class times. The academic requirements at Tech are fair. Professors are always concerned with students getting an understanding of the material and gear the work to prepare us to be able to preform the types of tasks that exist in the professional field.

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Class sizes can range anywhere from 600 person lecture halls, down to as little as 10 people. It really all depends on your major and which class you're taking. I've experienced both extremes, and they're both fine in their own respect. As an underclassman, you'll face mostly big lecture classes. In such cases, the professor won't know you unless you put forth the effort to be known. If you're in a very popular major, you may be faced with these huge classes for the majority of your time here. If, however, you choose a less common major (as I did), you will quickly find yourself in very small, intimate classes. These smaller classes are also much more prevalent in upper level courses. Most students spend a fair amount of time studying - we are in college, after all. But I don't think you'll find yourself becoming a reclusive, bookish hermit. Obviously, regular upkeep on readings/assignments is conducive to good grades - but most people only really hunker down and STUDY when test/exam times arrive. One thing I have to say about professors is that they really do care about us. Unlike other schools' professors, who are more concerned with their own research than furthering the education of their students, Tech is very committed to helping us acquire the tools and knowledge we need for successful careers. Of course some are better than others, but on the whole the professors are knowledgeable, down-to-earth and always willing to help. Professors are also extremely beneficial with helping you find and pursue opportunities - whether it be a job, internship or study-abroad program. In fact, I am participating in a study abroad program and am in the tropics of north-eastern Australia right now! Being here would never have been possible if it weren't for the help of a certain professor who has since become my personal academic advisor.

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My professors do actually know my name. Part of this reason may be that my name is very unique, however, i do take time to introduce myself. My favorite class is probably engineering. Although it is very strenuous, I like all of the fun activities that we do that actually apply to the profession that we desire. I don't really have a least favorite class because I chose them. I find that students are constantly studying because if you're like me, you may end up having either a test or a quiz every day off the week, including Saturday. Vt students have intellectual conversations outside of class because most of the students here are very intellectual themselves. Some students are competitive, but being competitive is a must because one must be competitive in the business world. The most unique class that I've taken is Introduction to Theatre. The teacher was just a very interesting lady, Susanna Rinehart is her name. My department is the Engineering department. Many of the professors and GTA's work as a team, so in class they are actually all present to ensure that they relay the acting professor's message the way that he intended. I don't really have the time to make it to the office hours of my professors, but I have found that they do answer back in a timely manner. I feel that VT's academic requirements are very strict, but they have high standards and I wouldn't expect less. The education is about getting a very large amount of knowledge about your major and other aspects so that you are what the job market wants, they will come to you in place of you hunting and searching for a job.

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My professors do know my name, if I take the initiative to get them. My favorite class is political theory, it keeps me interested and is not merely memorizing facts. My least favorite is biology, mainly because I don't like science and think it is a very boring subject. Students' study habits range. Some hardly study and make me wonder how they're still allowed to attend VT but some students study a lot and it shows in their grades. Class participation is pretty common. Big lectures usually have recitations so you can participate more but even in the lectures the professors interact with the students. VT students definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class: about politics, the environment, spirituality, etc. Competitiveness varies among students. I'm only a freshman but the most unique class I've taken is nations and nationalities. It was not what i expected at all but I learned a lot from it. Everyone should be able to take it. My major is political science and requires a lot of reading and essay writing and even more reading. I haven't spent time with professors outside of class YET but me and my friends are doing lunch with my comparative government professor soon. VT's academic requirements should be made stricter. I see so many students who get in and then barely maintain the minimum grade requirement. Education at VT is geared at toward getting a job. I get so many e-mails about job fairs and such and professors really push you to think on your own.

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I have honestly never had a professor I did not like at Virginia Tech. My favorite class at Tech is an elective class called World Regions, taught by John Boyer. He wrote the textbook for the class, which is hilarious! I have never had so much fun and learned so much. I truly could not wait to go to class. Students study often, and usually in large groups at places like the math emporium and the library. Intellectual conversations are frequent outside of class, because we are lucky enough to have professors that prompt us to expand our thinking and understand new ideas. I have grown so much as a person during my time here. Some students are competitive, but not in a way that has come accross as negative or abrasive. I would rather say that students here work hard to achieve their own individual goals. Virginia Tech's academic requirements have gone up each year since I've entered. I came to VT with a high school GPA of a 3.8. Now I would say that the typical GPA of the freshman class is even higher than that. The best part of education at Virginia Tech, besides the amazing professors, is the fact that what we learn here not only puts us on a career path, there is also an element of learning just for it's own sake. I think that some universities tend to focus on one or the other, while at Virginia Tech we have a healthy balance between the two.

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One thing I really appreciate about Tech is that they push you to consider your future. They want you to be professional and there are so many opportunities for you to work towards this. There are seminars, mock-interviews and people to help you with your resume. There is even a Professional Seminar (1 hr credit) course that I took that was quite helpful as well. Organizations encourage you to participate. This has given me so many wonderful lines to add to my resume! There are also plenty of opportunities for service, which is wonderful and should absolutely be taken advantage of! I feel oftentimes that I am surrounding by very intelligent people with whom I can have meaningful conversations. I learn from those around me every day. Tech does not just accept anybody. Neither do they let just anyone teach. My professors are wise and I learn so much from them. Many of them will give out their numbers, and respond to e-mails very quickly and efficiently. They are more than willing to meet with you in their offices as well. Take advantage of these wonderful instructors. Not only can they teach you a lot; they can be great references as well. Respect your teachers and form relationships with them. It is absolutely worth it. These professors are very passionate and knowledgeable about what they teach and they really care about you as a student.

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Professors in my major, and some out of major do know my name. I believe that my favorite class has been International Marketing because we had a lot of food brought in, a lot of video clips, a lot of presentations. Least favorite is probably Cross Cultural Harmony in French because of the amount of work it involves that I believe is frivolous and not characteristic of a typical French class. Students study a bunch. Class participation is definitely more prevalent in smaller classes, or classes with buddy buddy teachers. Yes students have intellectual conversations outside of class, that's what coffee shops are for. Students are extremely competitive. I really believe all of the fashion classes are very unique. How many people make suits and bathing suits in class?? The fashion department (in AHRM) is slowly dying. We have close to zero funding, professors are leaving and are not being replaced, our studios and labs need to be updated to accommodate the amount of people who have joined the major. We are very much forgotten, and it's terrible to see, because there are so many talented and dedicated people trying to make this work. Don't spend time with professors outside of class. Academic requirements are fine. Education is in the middle of getting a job and learning for its own sake.

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Since I'm an English major in smaller classes my professors do know my name. Even in large classes, if you take the time to introduce yourself it can be more personal experience. My favorite class was Intro to Creative Writing I took last spring. We wrote short stories and creative nonfiction everyday, read out loud, and workshopped. Students study Sunday through Thursday afternoon--then it's time for fun. We work hard. Very hard. We talk about class outside of class and we know what's important but it doesn't stop us from having fun in college. Students are competitive for GPA, scholarships, internships, study abroad opportunities--you name it and if someone wants it they will work hard to get it. The English department here seems so warm. I've only been in the department for one semester so I'm still feeling my way around, but all my professors genuinely want me to do well and are more than willing to read over my papers and help me with ideas for other classes. One professor even gave our class her cell phone number because she knew that it would take her so long to respond to her emails. I feel like I'm getting an education that is more that just learning for learning's sake. I'm learning to be a better writer, reader, thinker, and I know that it will help me in the future.

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