The academics at Willamette are exceptional. I've never had a class larger than 40 students and that was for my Organic chemistry class sophomore year. Classes are rigorous no matter what you major, but some majors are more time intensive than others because more time is spent in the classroom or laboratory. I have interactions with all of my professors who I know both in and outside of the classroom. Professors genuinely care about their students both in the classroom as a student but also outside the classroom as a person and colleague. Because Willamette is a small liberal arts school, professors do notice when you don't participate in class and when you're not in class as well. You're expected to show up and take an active part of your education. Willamette is an educational community, students have discussions outside the classroom and learning doesn't stop when people walk outside of the classroom door. Academic requirements at Willamette can be confusing sometimes, each student is given an academic adviser who helps them with classes and general requirements.
I am a biology major with a chemistry minor and both departments are fantastic. Professors are engaging and want their students to learn and to help them learn. They are there to teach and not to just perform research. They engage undergraduates in their research, I have worked with two separate professors in biology and chemistry performing research during the summer and during the school year for credit. This is one of the best opportunities that a small school like Willamette can offer. Willamette is geared towards teaching students a broad range of classes and exposing them to all sorts of topics and experiences. I think that this liberal arts core helps students get jobs once their graduate because students have other critical thinking and logic skills outside of their major and subject specialty.
There are usually two types of classes on campus: lecture-based and discussion-based. In the "lecture" classes, class size can reach up to about 40 students. Still, this is significantly smaller than most of the smallest classes at state schools, and heavy class participation still takes place.
Discussion-based classes usually have about 10-15 students and rely greatly on class participation. Students are expected to have prepared for the material for the day and to engage in class discussion.
Academics at Willamette are challenging but the work is doable. Professors hold high expectations for Willamette students but they make themselves available as a resource outside of the classroom. Classes at Willamette challenge students to think critically about issues from all sides and open the door to learning from fellow students with different backgrounds and opinions. Students at Willamette are committed to academic excellence - and succeed without snobbery.
No matter what major someone is, if you ask them how they are doing in the middle of the semester, you'll always get the same answer: "I'm really busy." It's true. We're all busy. That's the beauty of it all though. We're all busy--together!
I believe that it is through the support of the other students as well as the professors that we are able to cope with this seemingly overwhelming amount of work.
The beauty of this work is the inspiration that it gives us--or maybe it's just me who feels this way. Through a rigorous, very liberal artsy course load, I have grown to love my research and appreciate an intellectual conversation. It's gotten to the point though of where it might be detrimental to my sleeping pattern, as my house-mate and I will stay up until the early morning - just talking!
Again, from my experiences Willamette students want to "learn something about everything and everything about something." With such small class sizes, the professors personally know all of their students and enable them to to get the most out of their education. Student-led research is a priority for Willamette and the professors love to teach. Willamette allows professors to teach what they are passionate about and the professors want the students to discuss and learn from each other. In no other environment could students gain so much both from professors and from each other.
At Willamette, classes will push you to think in new ways. Though they are a bit challenging, professors will really take the time to meet with you and make sure you are on the right track. When you are one of fifteen students in a class, learning and the pace is much more specific to the students and their needs.
I think that professors also do a great job of teaching interesting classes that people want to learn about. I have always found that there are more interesting courses than I have time to take!
Also, unlike high school, most students are at Willamette because they really want to learn and get as much out of the class as possible. People participate, remain engaged, and contribute really interesting things to discussion.
The academics can be really challenging at times, but sometimes it can be fairly manageable. Based on some of the rhetoric courses I have taken, the intellectual discussions are quite scintillating and heavy with critical analysis, which I love. I am currently taking an introductory chemistry course from the Oregon Professor of the Year and I greatly enjoy her humorous and energetic lectures. The liberal arts academic experience is well-defined through the Modes of Inquiry (MOI) requirements, which really gives students the opportunity to learn and discover their interests and passions.
Willamette centers itself around a strong intellectual community that inspires rather than defines its students. Students like to apply what they discuss and learn in the classroom to other aspects of their lives. Professors are very accessible and interested in knowing and supporting their students. This environment allows students to be much more engaged and invested in academics.
Everyone really cares about school but not in a way that makes you feel stressed all the time.
Willamette I feel is very strong academically. Since coming to Willamette my writing skill have drastically increased along with my analytical reasoning skills. This is probably due to the small class sizes, and the fact that when I have a problem or I need help I contact my professor or I go to study groups or get tutoring.
Professors are extremely accessible and try to get to know their students on a much deeper level than possible at a large school. They help students identify their academic strengths and weaknesses, and help them come up with a study plan that fits their individual needs. Very few professors curve, so there's no competitive feeling of needing to "beat the curve." Some of Willamette's best resources are other students.
MY favorite spanish class only had 8 students in it and was probably one of the best classes I have ever taken. Other great classes include environmental policy making, Latin American detective fiction, geographic information systems and non-majors biology. My teachers recognize me all around campus and I can even talk with them outside of class sometimes when I see them in the bistro. While many of the students on campus are very academically competitive, the classes aren't graded on a scale, so there is no competition between students (which seems rare to me, for such an academically competitive school). We always have study groups together, meet outside of class to work on problem sets together and I really enjoy all the support I receive from my fellow students
I am an English major yet sometimes I feel like I've done more reading and writing for my history classes or sociology class. I like English classes because you could read a 14 line poem and analyze it for the who hour long class and be done. It's all about what you think and how you interpret things. I also really like the English department as a whole. I feel as though the professors are very down to earth yet at the same time they expect a lot out of us.
Classes are very small so serious academic work and participating in class are expected. It's expensive, so you want to get your money's worth on the education side. I talk a lot with my professors outside of class, somethings because I need help but mostly because there are more things I'd like to discuss - to understand better. Faculty are easy to find and talk to - they are on campus and seem like they want to help me succeed.
The academics here are very tough. You work hard for every grade you earn. The average class size is 14 people, so this is not the place to party hard the night before and fall asleep in the back of class the next morning. You get to know your professors well and all the students here often work with their professors outside of class. Issues that are explored in the classroom are the same issues that are being dealt with at large in the real world. To sum it up, the professors here do their best to make sure your degree matters with what you'll do after you leave college.
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