Is McGill University too impersonal for someone used to tiny classes & small towns?

<p>I am visiting in the fall, but I would still like to know...</p>

<p>I am very highly interested in McGill University. I speak French and I love the culture of Montreal. I have always loved being in big cities, although I come from a fairly small town. I also come from an extremely small school. TINY. My one concern about McGill is that I would get lost being in such a large university in such a big city, with such huge classes and all. I'd like to hear other people's opinions on this. Thanks:)</p>

<p>I came fron a Catholic high school of about 300 students. The best thing about the high school was that everyone knew everyone else. The worst thing about the high school was.....everyone knew everyone else, if you get my point.</p>

<p>I was from suburban Boston so I was used to a big city. I was not put off by McGill's size, once you figure out the administrative systems. I liked the large lectures for the anonymity they provided. My largest first year class was in Economics with about 300 students in lectures and 25 students in a section. It took a bit of adjustment of course. The really large freshman classes are in science and I'm not familiar with that Faculty. Class size at McGill is comparable to schools like UCLA, Berkeley, Michigan etc. Even at private universities in the US, freshman lectures can have about 300 students. </p>

<p>Ultimately it is a personal choice based on your comfort level. To succeed, and be happy, at McGill you need to be a self starter and be proactive in taking advantage of the many opportunities the school and Montr</p>

<p>Ok good advice, thanks!</p>

<p>Although McGill is big, I doubt you would 'get lost'. If you live in a dorm for your freshman year, you will meet a reasonable number of other freshmen who are in your faculty, and likely to be taking some of the same intro classes you are taking - a natural instant study group. You will also meet other freshmen, thru the dorm, that you bond with. You get to know upperclassmen mostly thru clubs (including clubs relating to majors).</p>

<p>For his second year, my son moved into an apt in the Plateau that he shared with 2 other McGill undergrads whom he met in his freshman dorm. Their apt was close (2-3 blocks) to another 3 or so apts filled with 2nd-years from that dorm, all of whom were part of that social group. In addition, my son had faculty-club related acquaintances/friends, and friends through Hillel, and through a community service-type club. (Faculty clubs are not for faculty members; they are related to a major, or department, and offer informal advising, tutoring, occasional lectures, social events...)</p>

<p>Now, for his 3rd year, he will again be sharing an apt with other 3rd years, (none of whom are in his major) and his integration into his major (pretty large, Science Faculty) is solidfying - thru lab volunteering, etc. He made an effort to get to know some of the faculty that interest him, which is paying off, and will be taking some smaller classes this year. In humanities and soc. sci. majors, I think you might reach this point a bit earlier than in the basic science majors.</p>

<p>So, although it is not at all like being at a LAC, it is also not at all like being an anonymous unknown. If you will be living in the freshman dorms and are a reasonably social person, you could easily have a student-oriented social life which is far from anonymous for your entire McGill undergrad life, from day one to graduation day. If you will be an engaged student, you will eventually probably have academic contacts with upperclassmen, grad students and faculty members that are personal and meaningful. This part does improve with time, unlike perhaps a LAC where you might have some small classes and seminars from day 1. Here's the part that doesn't really get better or more personal with time: McGill administration. Them's the breaks. </p>

<p>To sum up, although I thought that McGill would not provide a complete university experience for my son (largely because only freshmen live in dorms, and not all of them either), that has not proved to be the case AT ALL. Although, I have noticed that he has relatively few local Montrealer friends (plenty from the rest of Canada, however).</p>

<p>I agree with tomofboston and memake. </p>

<p>While large classes are not for everyone, they are common in many universities. The concept may seem scary at first but everyone is in pretty much the same boat, no high school that I know of is even allowed to have classes that size. So it's normal to be apprehensive but it really shouldn't be a reason not to go in itself, unless you know your success depends on individual attention. McGill is definitely geared for independent learners. </p>

<p>As memake points out, one way out of the anonimity of the crowd is to make friends with classmates/roommates/peers of all sorts. For one thing, it'll make you realize that you're not alone in feeling tiny in a large class. So my recommendation, wherever you go, is to be proactive in making friends (talk to people, participate in student life in some form; I made most friends at McGill through my departmental undergrad society) and in talking to your profs. Go to office hours early on (don't wait until you're completely lost), go talk to the TAs, because they won't come to you, and that just by going to see them you'll stand out from the rest of the class and your profs and TAs will get to know you better. </p>

<p>Finally, in many programs, the class size shrink considerably after the first year or two, so you're no longer lost in a large crowd but you still won't get personal attention unless you seek it yourself.</p>

<p>Also, with respect to the city, my piano teacher from way back when I took piano lessons taught me that Montreal really is just a bunch of Chicoutimis patched together. Each neighborhood/borough is its own small town in a way (perhaps more densely populated, but you get the idea).</p>