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Class sizes? Are they as big as I hear?

jotcjotc Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
edited May 2009 in McGill University
I am currently choosing between McGill and Toronto (Trinity) and have one day to figure it out. I have heard that both schools have intimidatingly large classes with little opportunities for discussion or interaction with professors.

When I visited McGill I saw that the classes are so large that the professors distribute little clickers so that they can electronically poll the class.

Thoughts from any current students? Use hard numbers if possible.

FYI I would probably be majoring in English or Political Science, esp. Political Science.
Post edited by jotc on

Replies to: Class sizes? Are they as big as I hear?

  • carly36carly36 Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    I think the class sizes would be equivalent at both schools, so I don't think this will be the deciding factor between the two. In fact, Toronto is even bigger than McGill...

    The clickers are new and are meant to increase participation in the big classes - they are there to make students feel more involved. They're used to see if the students understand (because it's near impossible for them to ask questions) and depending on the 'poll' results, the prof can explain further or move on to the next subject.

    For english, classes are usually around 200 people; they have to be small enough to be able to grade all the essays you write... For poli sci, you'll have much bigger classes - some are as big as 600 people (it ranges from about 200/300 - 600) This is at the 200 level, but of course they do get smaller as you get into upper years.
  • EyowenEyowen Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    What about sciences? Like bio and microbiology. Are all the classes in big lecture halls? Or are there small classes and lab lessons?
  • carly36carly36 Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    I don't know about microbio, but it is a smaller program so the classes are likely smaller.
    I'm in bio so can tell you about that... There are no labs until you get to the 300 level and above because there are just too many students. Most of the molecular/cell bio classes are about 600 people, and genetics is 800, which is huge but understandable because it's required for a few majors. There are optional 'conference' sections with low attendance so those are smallish, but they're lead by the TA and not the prof. The only 'small' 200 level bio was about 250 people (ecology/evolution). Even at the 300 level, there are some classes of 200-250, but they feel tiny in comparison...
  • EyowenEyowen Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    oh my God!!!! That's terrible! 800 students?! How is it possible to interact?? And no labs?? What about research work an all, I mean that's only why I'm coming to McGill. Hearing that, I'm not very encouraged anymore =(
  • SinclairSinclair Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    The largest auditorium at Mcgill holds 600 people so there are no classes of 800.
  • carly36carly36 Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    Actually, yes there is a (only one, not all) class of 800 because I was in it... I'm aware that the largest auditorium holds 600. The class was broadcast (pretty much like watching tv) into a separate room for those who didn't get to class early enough to get seats in the auditorium with the prof...I'm not making this up.
  • cdovercdover Registered User Posts: 483 Member
    ^Wow.

    McGill was my first choice until I found out about this a few months ago. It then became my 5th choice.
  • SvensterSvenster Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    If you attend any major US state university comparable to Mcgill (Cornell, U Mich, UNC, UVA and even some Ivies) 1st year lecture classes are almost always large. There may not be 600 in a class but once you're past 100 - 200 what difference does it really make how many students are there. The experience is more or less the same. You're listening to a lecture with a large number of your peers. The key is having an engaging, top notch prof who lectures well. Mcgill has excellent faculty. Also, these very large classes are mostly limited to 1st year at Mcgill. Things change dramatically once you get past the intro courses that everyone is required to take for their majors.

    If you want small classes starting in 1st year stick to the LACs.
  • EyowenEyowen Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    what's LAC??
  • SinclairSinclair Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    Liberal Arts College - Bowdoin, Haverford, Amherst, Williams...etc.,
  • rdh1991rdh1991 Registered User Posts: 602 Member
    what is the average class size after the first year?
  • rdh1991rdh1991 Registered User Posts: 602 Member
    bump bump
  • SinclairSinclair Registered User Posts: 31 New Member
    There is some information on the McGill website. Maclean's University Rankings
    The info is somewhat dated, it's from 2006, but it provides a breakdown of class sizes for each of the years.
    As you would expect - larger classes in first two years and much smaller classes in final two. Hope this helps.
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