Wheaton College-Norton Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Carrie

Wheaton is a great place for people who don't like to blend into the background. Class sizes are small, and professors almost always not only know your name, but your interests and future goals as well. Wheaton students typically work hard and study often, but there are always people who forget why they're at college. Wheaton's general education requirements need to be incorporated into your academic plans early on, but are not overbearing, and most people finish them be sophomore year. Classes range from basic to unique, and I have yet to take a class that was poorly taught or boring. Wheaton is great because it focuses its students on both the present and the future; encouraging planning for post-graduation careers and education. It's the perfect place for motivated students who plan to get things done.

Kayla

If you're in a bigger class, you may not get to know the professor that well, but not always. Many take time to meet with each student individually and many offer so much guidance. They really get you to think about what you want to do with your time at Wheaton and afterwards. And it's not always the professors who teach your major- everyone's very helpful. The classes are great- you learn so much. Students have intellectual conversations outside of class and in my view, we really study and know that we're in college to learn.

Melissa

I love academics at Wheaton. One of my majors is Art History, and one of the deciding factors in choosing Wheaton was the strength of their Art History Department. Professors, given the chance, will always learn your name, and in my experience be genuinely interested in your ideas and what you have to say. The only class that I have not liked was FYS or First Year Seminar. This is required, and the issue really becomes that students are placed in a class, really regardless of their own interests. In mine we did research for the professor's own pet project. It was a waste of time. If there was more effort made to make the FYs experience in line with the students own interests, then I think it would be acceptable. As it is, its the only bad experience I've had, but its sour taste lingers.

Courtney

Academics at Wheaton are very challenging. Of course this can depend on what classes you take. My professors have been amazing. They are always willing to meet with you outside of class.

Torry

My favorite class that I have taken so far is Schooling in America with Professor Olson.

Meaghan

The school is really small so many professors know your name by the end of the first full week of classes, which I think is really nice. The class sizes are pretty small, with only a few lectures consisting of between 60 and 80 students offered. I think the level of participation varies with the class, and the amount of students enrolled in it. The classes I am taking are helping me prepare for life outside of Wheaton, pertaining to my major. I feel like I would be able to use the information that I have learned at school in order to get a job after graduation. I am a psychology major which is one of, if not the, most popular majors on campus. This leads to a lot of waiting for certain classes that I need to take to fulfill a particular requirement. I have been waiting for almost two years to take a class for my major and for my Connections requirement, which I find ridiculous. I do not like the fact that the school makes us take classes that connect to other classes because there are too many that pertain to the sciences, and I hate science and am not very good at it. There are also too many that are connected to first year seminars, but the board frowns upon people trying to connect their FYS to another class. If they are going to make students take connection classes, then they should have more classes available for the students to take.

Jim

Insanely brilliant professors. Take the time to visit their office hours. Go a lot. Go enough so that they can distinguish who you are in a hundred person class. This can only help your chances of doing well in the classes and a lot of them have very interesting research topics that they might need help on.

Alex

Professors are amazing. Everyone knows your name, and they are dedicated inside and outside of the classroom. They are probably the best reason for choosing to attend Wheaton. Wonderful English department. Competitiveness depends on the students and the type of class you are making. Wheaton can be as challenging or as easy as you choose to make it. Some students carry in-class conversations to outside of the classroom, while others cannot be bothered once class has ended. In terms of preparing you for a job, Wheaton has mastered the art of the well-rounded liberal arts school. You leave have taken a smattering of different types of classes, however, some students may not feel that they have a concentration in one single thing to be able to get a job. The career center could be more helpful in placing summer internships, let alone actual jobs. Wheaton is the only school I've heard of that has connection courses-where two or more classes are similar and therefore, "connect". This is supposed to give students a chance to take classes they otherwise would not have taken and to see how disciplines are connected. Wheaton students complain about this the most. Many see it as pointless and a useless requirement that does not actually help them.

Jordan

Professors always know your name, and many prefer that you call them by their first name. Classes are always small... very rarely above 20, averaging closer to 10 depending on the subject. There's a fairly open curriculum with only a few requirements, so you are largely free to take whichever courses interest you most. It's definitely a liberal arts education, rather than geared towards getting a job.

Rob

The academics at Wheaton are by far its strong point, and are some of the best that you could encounter anywhere. Small class sizes and much interaction among faculty and students usually means that professors make it a point to learn the names of every student in a classroom. Discussions are also encouraged in classrooms, and professors make it a point to ensure that not only are they teaching the material, but the students are learning it. The faculty at Wheaton is also outstanding, and is handpicked with the utmost care. The number of Ivy League PhD's among the faculty is surprising, but not only are the professors knowledgeable in their respective fields, they are also outstanding teachers and always make learning the material easier for students with their effective teaching strategies. The academic schedule at Wheaton is usually strenuous, and students do have to spend a great deal of time studying and doing work. The majority of my classes are in the departments of biology and chemistry, both of which are very work intensive and demanding. The faculty does expect a lot from students, but helps students in every way possible to make the workload manageable. The small size of the departments do tend to cause students to be competitive, usually because students know everyone else in the department and know what other students are doing. The expansive knowledge of the faculty also means that you can find some courses at Wheaton that you might not find elsewhere. In the biology department, students spend a great deal of time outside of class and lab with professors doing research. One of the benefits of being at a small school with no graduate program is that the students get a chance to participate in research with professors that most students do not get to experience until graduate school. Most Wheaton students are passionate about their major, and therefore enjoy doing the majority of the work expected of them. A student can tailor their schedule however they want to gear it towards preparation for work or graduate school.

Jesse

The academics at Wheaton are why I attend this institution. Wheaton has provided for me, classes which are engaging and stimulating. My largest class my freshman year had 25 students in the class. Every professor that I have had knows me by name and still knows me by name and addresses me as such when we pass on campus. I can comfortably say that all 8 of my professors my first year were excellent professors. Furthermore, I can say that of these 8 professors, 3 of them have been truly inspirational. I do not know a single student who has made a comment to the effect that they have been disappointed in the quality of education at Wheaton.

Meredith

You definitley can't just cruise or squeak by, but I've had a few nights where I really didn't have much work to do. Probably not the same at an Ivy League college.

Charlie

Classes are generally small and buildings are mostly modern and comfortable. Professors usually know you by name and are very accessible. One down side to a small school--it is extremely difficult to get into classes in popular majors as a Freshman or Sophomore. You won't get into the classes you want until your junior year, which can be extremely annoying. The Connections requirement is a nice idea in theory, but translates into an annoying and stressful experience as most of the classes you will need to take for this requirement are only offered every 3 years, and professors aren't very accepting of independent connection proposals.

Rosemary

Wheaton's academics are the strongest aspect of the school. Since there is no Graduate program the professors seem more focused on teaching. All classes are taught by professors who know you by name and are very open to meeting with you after class. I have also been in classes which have met at a professor's house for dinner or dessert. This extra time spent with students shows how much the professors care. The classes themselves are also very intellectually stimulating and if Wheaton doesn't offer something you can always cross register at Brown University in RI.

Emma

Almost all professors will learn your name and recognize you for years to come. Class sizes run on the small size(20 to 30 students) unless you are in an intro level course which tend to be bigger. The academics can be challenging, but professors are willing to help you with any difficulties you are having. Many of my professors have even given out their cell and home numbers in case we have any questions or problems after office hours. Some students can be very competitive, but you will find these extremely driven students at any school. Wheaton tries to create requirements that help you obtain a well-rounded education. "Connections" are the least beneficial aspect of the requirements even though the theory behind them is sound.

Jenna

I find that wheaton offers really interesting classes that you won't necessarily find at other schools. The curriculum also makes you take classes out of your comfort zone so you get to experience new subjects. In class most professors take the time to learn your name and participation is important. This aspect of Wheaton I really enjoy because it is impossible to get lost in the crowd. All the professors are really interested in the person you are outside of the classroom and want students to come to their office hours.

Alisa

You will get a good education from Wheaton. Personally I am an Econ major, but would have rather been a business major, which Wheaton does not offer. So if your looking to go into business here, econ is your only choice. Professors are very helpful. But limited classes are offered. The requirements are reasonable and actualy help you get a variety of subjects into your schedule.

Evelyn

(See above comment)

Laura

In my freshmen year Modern America lecture class there was about 65 students. This is the largest class I ever took at Wheaton, but we broke down once a week for a small group discussion. I was amazed on the first day of class when the professor included his home number on the syllabus! This is just one example of how available and approachable our professors are. Students regularly are invited to Professor's houses for dinner and some even live on campus. We are such a tight nit community. The 14,000 alumnae/i are a wealth of knowledge and connections for current students. The college plans a series of Senior Alumnae/i dinners during the spring of senior year where current seniors go to the President's House and have a cocktail party with alums from the area. This is just one example of the way students are able to benefit from alumnae/i connections. There is also a student group called "Student Alumnae/i Association" that plans networking and social events for students and alums to connect.

Tess

The academics at Wheaton are very good. Classes are interesting for the most part and the work is demanding but manageable if you learn how to manage your time well. The professors are very helpful and understanding usually and very animated about the subjects they teach. There are of course, some bad classes but there will always be in any school.

Claire

Wheaton's professors make an effort to get to know you. They want every student to succeed and fully grasp the subject matter. Wheaton is committed to small class sizes, with very few exceptions. Class participation is encouraged in most classes.

Emma

academics? yikes. the academics are pretty tough, but if you keep working its survivable. the professors definitely know your name, which is very helpful. i've spent a good amount of time out of class with professors. the library is always a hotspot of student activity, which is good and bad.. while you'll see a majority of your friends there.. its tough if you have trouble concentrating.

Scott

Wheaton is such a small campus with an academic environment that encourages those unacademic connections with professors. One professor has come to several of the ultimate frisbee practices and he is very capable. Another is very involved with the meditation group and I hear of others all the time. Students will carry class discussions outside of class, anything from going over the lesson of the day to what crazy thing professor so-and-so did today to try to help the class get it. My most unique class would be my freshmen year seminar, which concerned the academic study of mediation methods over the years. There are some core requirements, but most people end up doing these just because Wheaton students tend to have broad academic interests, but Wheaton does encourage preparing for the world after college, be that with graduate schools or jobs.

Eileen

With small classes comes lots of class participation and intellectual courses. If you want to have individualized attention and recognize most of the students as you walk around the Dimple, then Wheaton is the place for you. If you want to hide and just be a number, this isnt the place for you. Class sizes are small, the introductory courses are often larger, but that means that you might have a 40 person lecture class as opposed to an 11-15 person class.

Mary

Professors are usually quite close with students, though there are of course some exceptions. It is not uncommon for students to call professors by their first names, or to have their professors' cell phone numbers in their contacts list.

Kendall

Academics are definitely top notch at Wheaton. We mainly pride ourselves on our academics, and it is true, we have excellent professors who know what they're talking about. It's HARD sometimes though. Many professors are really tough, you're always doing homework and making sure you did it correctly or else you WILL get a bad grade. Grading is really tough here, especially if you are in the sciences, you need to do everything right the first time or else you can really take a beating. But, I must say, out of everything at Wheaton, the academcis are the most interesting and have inspired me to study a lot.

Alex

The small size makes it possible to have small classes, but even in the larger ones, ALL your professors know your name, and say hi, freshman year to senior year. They're easy to talk to, and easy to get in touch with if you need ANYTHING.

Alex

Professors know you by name, small personal class sizes, very tough and demanding academically, professors very easily accessible outside of class/during office hours, professors always willing to help out beyond class, class participation is very common, many classes depend on participation, students are competitive w/ themselves, academically very strong school

Kate

Professors know me, and you work very closely with them. Classes are also generally hard, but that is a good thing. Students are very scholarly, but they also make time to party, which is another good thing - they generally know how to organize their time. Class participation is pretty good, and I have had MANY intellectual conversations outside of class - the learning doesn't stop outside the classroom. All the classes are fairly unique I think, but I haven't been to other colleges really, so I have nothing to compare it to except my very small high school which had no diversity in their class layout. Both my departments (Sociology and Anthropology) were okay - there were some professors that weren't my favorite, but you make do. It is good to meet with professors one on one, it makes learning much easier. Wheaton's academic requirements (as far as foundations go) are NOT FUN. We had to fulfill connections - these are honestly BS. Connections only require you to take classes that you don't need to take.

Ian

Classes are small, which is fantastic. All of my professors know my first name and will stop and talk to me when they see me... the largest class I've ever been in was 50 people, which still doesn't restrict people from asking questions. Class participation is generally very high; I had an Italian class, for instance, with only 9 people in which everyone participated very constantly every day. One of my problems with the school is the lack of intellectual conversation; if you want it, you really have to seek it out. Clubs and groups are truly the way to find it.

Chelsea

Classes at Wheaton are very small and a very comfortable learning environment. Other than intro classes, there are barely any classes with more than 20 kids and if there are, there are discussion groups which break the class up to make sure everyone is keeping up. Teachers are very willing to help in and outside of the class room and all really get to know you, especially those teachers who teach in your major. Your advisor, once you choose them, are really involved and make sure that everything is going smoothly and you have everything you need to graduate on time. The class load could be stressful at times but it is all in how you plan your schedule.

Emily

On the whole, I have enjoyed my classes at Wheaton immensely. Even though English is a "large" major (by Wheaton standards), I have received individual attention bordered on doting since Day 1. By advisor is fabulous, always willing to go the extra mile to make sure I know about opportunities on and off campus she thinks I might find interesting. In my three years at Wheaton so far, I have only disliked two professors, and both were Visiting Professors. The most unique class I have taken is Word and Image, a creative writing course in which the only guideline for our prompts was that our responses had to include words, and they had to be influenced by images. The range of output from my fellow students was inspiring. I think one of the best parts about this class was that even though it was an English course, only about 60% of the students in the class were English majors - we also had Biology, Psychology, Economics, and Sociology majors, and the range of backgrounds made for great discussions.

Ryan

The professors are fantastic, they are excited about what they do, and really convey that to their students. Class sizes are small, so I have always had the professor know my name. The chairs of the various departments hold parties at their houses for students and faculty to mingle, and because the school is in a suburban area, professors and their families connect with the school more than you would see at a larger institution in a more urban setting. Class participation is very common, and the discussions are pretty interesting. Sometimes the material gets too intense and makes it outside the class to lunch or wherever else students are headed.

Katie

There are only two professors who I doubt remember my name, and even then, their memory would be jogged because I went and met with both of them at least a few times. We have very small classes, so the concept of a professor not knowing my name if/when I pass them on campus isn't a reality. My favorite classes are too many to count, but one that sticks out is one that I took Freshman year called Paganism in the Greco-Roman world. It was a Classics course, and what made it so fun is that it was incredibly geeky in focusing on a subject that I've loved since childhood, Greek Mythology. And the professor came to class with her enthusiasm and fascination with the subject clearly worn on her sleeve. I'd say students study more than average. People don't take "cake" courses (easy stuff) like they do at large universities. There's really no easy subject, or easy prof, or any predictable pattern to try and predict what will be hard or what will be less hard. Wheaties do know how to have a good time when it may be necessary, but if anything, I usually feel like I'm trying as hard as everyone else is. I wouldn't say we're competitive with each other, but everyone has a passion in their chosen major, and they work towards fulfilling that passion as best they can through their efforts both on campus, and off campus through fellowships/internships/scholarships that they word towards. The most unique course that I took was probably my Semester in Washington class. I did writings on a novel of my professor's choosing each week ("Confessions of an Economic Hitman"), while during the week, I lived in Washington DC and worked at an internship 5 days a week, 9-5 job and everything. I loved being able to get graded on something that felt like a gift, which was getting a taste of living in the real world for a whole month. I'm a Political Science major, and compared to other departments, it's fairly large, with 10 full-time professors. In any PS class I take, I usually meet with the professor several times during the semester so I can get to know them and feel I've gotten to know my department a little more intimately. My goal is to have had every single PS professor before I graduate! Wheaton's academic reqs are more than what other schools have, in that they require a program of its' own design called Connections. Connection require students to take a class that "connects" to a class in an entirely different department. Students must graduate with 2 "connections", meaning 4 total classes. One example to illustrate what a connection can be is a Political Science course that studies National Security Policy in the 20th century, while they then take a Math course in Cryptography. Wheaton is very much geared towards learning for the sake of learning. When I hear about friends at larger universities say that they have Business majors, or Communications, I only wonder if those departments only exist because they help kids get a job, rather than strengthen their intellect like Wheaton does

Ian

Some great professors, each incoming class raises the bar.

Theresa

The classes I've taken here for the most part have been pretty excellent, and the professors generally know your name (depends on the class size). I've had great classes in Psychology, English, and History so far, and anticipate having great classes in other fields. The requirements here can be really confusing sometimes, but if you need help with them, your advisor or even the registrar can point you in the right direction.