I am a current senior at the University of Rochester. I am a Political Science major, which is a Social Science, but was previously an Art History and English double major and have taken most of my classes in the Humanities. I studied abroad during the summer of 2007 in Malawi, Africa, and in Spring 2008 in Siena, Italy. On campus, I have been the Undergraduate Director of Hartnett Art Gallery, the co-Editor-in-Chief of the Interpres Yearbook, the co-Activism and Awareness Chair of UR Genocide Intervention, a member of two vocal ensembles, a volunteer with Partners in Reading, a teaching assistant for two classes, and a tour guide.
I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about my experiences with study abroad or the humanities. Just reply to this thread, and we can start chatting!
Best of luck with the rest of the college process --- congrats, you're almost there!
Are there any study abroad internships? For example, my brother is working for the WHO at the moment, visiting Switzerland, India, China and South Africa. Doing something similar, except related to my field of study, sounds really rewarding.
I have been planning a major in Political Science with a double minor in Philosophy and Religion. Is this possible at U of R (a double minor)?
Would you consider admissions more relaxed if you declare a major in the social sciences or humanities than a major in the hard sciences?
I know several people who have interned for the semester with a member of the British parliament and have had absolutely fantastic experiences.
Additionally, we offer a semester away in both Washington D.C., which consists of a semester-long internship on Capitol Hill, and in NYC, which consists of a semester-long internship with an art museum or gallery.
A double minor is very possible at UR because of our cluster system. Because the only required class is a writing class, you have a lot of wiggle room to figure out the sort of things you want to study. As long as you plan well, it's not difficult at all to double minor or double major.
Lastly, your prospective major does not affect your admissions decision.
Hope those helped! Let me know if you have any other questions!
1. The class sizes really depend on the class, the level, and the professor's cap. Professors can cap classes at whatever size they want to - or not cap it at all - so there's really a range of some discussion based classes and some lecture based classes. Some are even a fusion of the two - this semester, I'm taking one of my favorite classes I've ever taken with an AWESOME professor (Professor Brown in the history dept.) and it's over 50 people, but he facilitates active discussion in response to his lectures. That's definitely unusual, but it goes to show that the classes aren't necessarily just lecture or discussion. Class sizes usually top out at about 175 or 180, although there is an occasional larger class. The biggest one that I've ever heard of - and that's not to say that it's the biggest one ever offered - was I think like 350 students. Those classes usually do break down at least once a week into smaller sections with TA's (teaching assistants) who go over the material in a much smaller 15-30 student sized groups. Having said that, most of our classes are not huge, and there are a lot of opportunities to take classes with much smaller enrollment. Most people do have a mix of small and large classes, even as a freshman.
My smallest class ever was four people including myself - it was a conversational Italian class, which was fantastic being so small, although really put on the pressure!! The smallest non-language class I've had I think is around 15, not including my independent study courses.
My biggest classes were probably around 175 people. For me, those were Intro to International Relations and an introductory Brain and Cognitive Science class that looked at neural mechanisms in the brain. Most of my bigger classes are usually more around 60-80 people.
In my experience, the professors have been super-accessible. Of course, you'll have an oddball that you'll wonder how ever got through the interview process, but for the most part, I've been impressed by my professors. They are all required to teach undergraduates - and know that when they accept their jobs here - and I really can't think of any professors that I've had that I've felt like were just there because they had to be. Even the few professors that I've really disliked have been very accessible and welcoming, although I really didn't think their teaching style was effective. Professors are also required to have office hours, which most want you to attend. Even though I was so afraid to for my first year and a half here, take them up on their offer...they can be really helpful and great for forming relationships with faculty. ADVICE for WHEREVER you go to school: It's not about the class you take - it's about the professor! Try to take classes with professors that you've heard are awesome in any subject that you're interested in. If they are a good professor, the subject matter will no matter what be interesting and, sadly, if they are a bad professor, even the most interesting subject matter can be awful!
2. I think the feel of the campus really depends upon what you make of it and what sort of classes that you choose to take. If you choose to take all lecture-based large classes that do not require discussion, I think it will have much more of a feel of a large research based university feel. In the social sciences and humanities sometimes that's nearly impossible, but it maybe could be done. For me, it feels much more like a small liberal arts college - I've taken a bunch of funky classes, which are usually on the smaller side and require a lot of discussion. I think it really depends on what sort of things you take advantage of.
3. I haven't taken any classes in philosophy, but the Legal Studies minor, which is interdepartmental, is administered through the Philosophy department, so I've met with the department head a couple of times and he's really great. I have heard fantastic things about classes with Professor Holmes, who does a lot of work with nonviolence, but beyond that, I don't know too much.
I have taken one class (and then became its teaching fellow the next year) in Religion called Speaking Stones. It sounds really creepy, but it's actually really cool, just give it a second....
Mount Hope Cemetery is the oldest public Victorian cemetery in the US and is directly adjacent to campus. This class - taught by a FANTASTIC professor - essentially takes you through the cemetery and teaches you the local history of Rochester through the stones, symbolism present in gravestones, and the entrepreneurial side of cemeteries. The coolest part, in my opinion, is the research aspect of the class, during which you basically adopt a stone or a family plot and do original research into its/their history utilizing our Rare Books Department and the local history section of the Rochester public library. It's so great and a really cool way to get involved in research that is not necessarily just science-test-tube based like everybody thinks of research. I wish I had more time to take religion classes because a bunch of my close friends have taken many classes with that department and loved them, but that's all the info I can offer from personal experience.
4. Hope that helped! Let me know if you have any more questions!
I'm going to be a freshman at Rochester next year (!) and I'm thinking of majoring in political science and statistics. I'll probably want something completely different by August...but as of today, that's my plan.
I know political science is one of the most popular majors there - how hard is it to get into the classes you want? Have you been locked out of ones you were interested in because they were full?
I also saw on the department's website that there are different tracks within poli sci. When do you have to choose?
What do most poli sci students plan to do when they graduate? I'm not really interested in becoming a politician, and it seems like that's what the internships are geared towards.
Also, completely unrelated, someone asked me if I'll have to do phys ed and I realized I have no idea. Does the U of R make students take gym/swim test/anything?
Thanks so much! Your answers to greg6or's questions were really helpful.
I've never had any trouble getting into any of the poli sci classes here. Occasionally, friends that I know have been locked out of classes, but usually if they contact the professor, they can get in.
There are different tracks in poli sci, but you don't have to declare one. International Relations is actually a separate interdepartmental major administrated by the Poli sci department, so that you do have to declare. Otherwise, you can just take classes in what interests you for your elective classes, and, if those fit into a track, then they do!
I don't think that there's really a blanket answer for what we do once we graduate. I know a lot of people apply to law school, but that's certainly not the only option. Some people go into grad school for poli sci, some people try to work with various aspects of government, and some people do something entirely different. I am taking some time off before pursuing graduate school to work in the non-profit sector with issues related to international human rights and humanitarian aid.
Last, we have no swim test or phys ed requirements. YAY!
Glad to see somebody who's been involved with English at the U of R -- it's what I want to major in, but I hardly ever hear anything about the English program, always about the sciences! When I visited the campus in August I met with some people from the English department and they were super-friendly, but as a student, I wonder how you felt about the English classes you took? Do you think the U of R has a good English program, and did you like the professors? I'm guessing that the classes were mainly smaller, since it's one of the less popular programs at the University?
Also, unrelated, but are the winters really as bad as they're fabled to be? I'm from NW PA so I'm no stranger to harsh weather -- I just hope it isn't WORSE than where I presently live!
I am no longer an English major and I was somewhat of a non-traditional one, but I'll answer from my experience. Our English major offers several different tracks (see: Department of English). When I declared, there was a track specifically for communications, which I decided to pursue because of my interest in public relations. As such, the classes I have taken through the English department aren't necessary what you would think of as traditional English classes - Debate, Advanced Debate, Presidential Rhetoric, and a Public Relations Internship with our campus theater. My debate classes were among my favorite classes that I've taken here - they helped to get me interested actually in human rights issues (because of the debate topic), which is what I am now pursuing post-graduation. Having said that, they were definitely not traditional English classes.
My roommate is an English major, however. From what she's told me, she really loves her English classes. I can't say that is whether she just loves English or a testament to the classes, but from my experience, your professors have to be decent to enjoy the classes, so I think it reflects on the department. Our department is small, so I would check out our course listings (Department of English) to make sure that we offer the type of things that you're interested in. Her classes are usually small - she usually has between 4 and 20 people in her classes, but has had more. She is also now in upper-level classes. The downside to such small classes is that there's really not room for slacking - you have to hold your place in the class, as most classes require participation - but if that's where you thrive, it's a really great opportunity. I'm sorry I can't offer a more personal take on the English department, but that's what I know from her stories about her classes.
If you absolutely can't stand snow, Rochester's probably not the place for you. There are usually a couple of weeks during winter that are really bad, but for the most part, they are tolerable. We have a tunnel system (which I only leave if I have to in the winter!!) and the campus size is manageable, so it's really not THAT bad. Check out average temps and stuff online to see how it compares to where you are. If I had to guess, it's probably not that much different.
Hope that helped. Let me know if you have any other questions!
Thanks for the reply; it was helpful! A debating class does sound fun; perhaps I'll look into that. I'm not bothered by small class sizes; I'm used to it, actually, so it would probably be more comfortable for me than huge classes. (My current Spanish class has four students, including myself.)
Admittedly I am not the biggest fan of snow, but I /am/ a seasoned veteran when it comes to dealing with it. I doubt that any weather that Rochester can throw my way will be something I haven't seen before.
I don't know if it would be possible to experience Rochester fully for 4 years taking only small classes. It really depends on the departments that you work with. Even so, I really don't think you could get through without taking any lecture classes. If you want to take a look at this website: (http://www.uis.rochester.edu/cschd/d.../1/department/), you can see how many people are currently enrolled in the classes of each department. That might be able to help you decide.
Speaking for myself, I wouldn't want to go through college without experiencing some lecture classes. I think the learning style in lecture and discussion based classes is really different and I think it's important to know how to operate in both situations, as I have found those skills necessary and transferable to other situations. If that's something that you are looking for, however, don't let my comment stop you...check out the link I provided you with and see the types of course offerings. If you're interested in seeing what classes departments require you to complete for their major, just type "______ department" into the search bar and the department page should come up with a link to more information for the major requirements.
Hope that helped! Let me know if you need more clarification!
It's definitely possible, as long as that's something that you know you want to do! I completed my entire major in basically three semesters, which left a lot of time for wiggle room and major changing. I changed to a poli sci major first semester junior year, second semester went abroad and did really nothing related to my major, and came back and am still graduating in May after four years. As long as you know that is something you want to do, you can plan for it appropriately.