Where do the faculty care most about their undergrads?

<p>OK, for a moment just ignore prestige. I've attended a community college part-time for the past few years, and the quality of the faculty is unbelievable. The people teaching the classes are doing it because they love to teach -- not because they love the pay. I've also noticed that a lot of them go above and beyond just teaching by being willing to chat with students, be super-helpful during office hours, and just be friends. Part of it may be that the academic departments are relatively small, but the members of a lot of the departments make great teams; they get along with each other, and I don't sense any "hostility" (for lack of a more adequate term) between faculty members. </p>

<p>In other words, these folks generally put themselves on level ground with students, and they aren't that concerned about their ego. (I actually have one professor who has a Ph.D. from Columbia and has studied at Yale and Stanford, but she has all her students call her by her nickname.) In a perfect world, I would love to go to a four-year school where the professors are just like that -- the kind of people you could imagine e-mailing for years to come. To your knowledge, which schools have a reputation for faculty like this (esp. in bio departments)? Thanks.</p>

<p>LACs have the reputation of being the most caring group of schools. The smaller ones in outlying areas in particular where the faculty live near the school and the school is a lifetime commitment to them. </p>

<p>You are fortunate to find the caring in your community college. Many of them have a rotating list of adjunct profs and the continuity and connections are not strong. Also with so many parttime students, the relationships do not tend to be close. </p>

<p>One school I always hear named, though not an LAC that is big on the nurturing is Clark University.</p>

<p>I had amazing & caring faculty at Brown. My thesis advisor tracked me down (in Paris, several years later) to send me a newly-published poem by the poet who was the subject of my thesis... My into level English prof pulled me aside to office hours (thought I was in trouble!) to urge me to move to honors track... One of my other profs had office hours 9-5 daily (except when in class.)</p>

<p>So, though I agree re LACs, some Univs also have great profs. The key is how much teaching is done by TAs and class sizes.</p>

<p>I have heard good things about Brandeis in this respect. Especially in bio. Mount Holyoke also has this kind of faculty.</p>

<p>Swarthmore was amazing to my daughter. When she was ill for a time, the profs expressed sincere concern via emails, visits, balloons, the Dean sent flowers, the campus ministry director was there for us for a solid week. No way I could have expected this. And the degree of academic concern was wonderful throughout her four years.</p>

<p>Of the top schools, I think Yale and Brown have the rep of the most focus on undergrad education, which may or may not be the same thing as faculty caring.</p>

<p>My D is having an amazing degree of interaction with the faculty at Smith, where "first name basis" seems to be the norm. I'm already anticipating that she may have serious problems picking one to work with for senior year research. The remaining Seven Sisters have that kind of rep in general.</p>

<p>i love the faculty at my school. "first name basis" is the norm. or sometimes even last names, it doesnt matter. the professors are great, its nice to sit int he offices and chat. the president of our college lives on campus, and he has an open invitation to all students to come over to his house for hot chocolate and whatnot during finals time.. as a nice way to relax.</p>

<p>Deep Springs....everybody knows everybody there....</p>

<p>I also had a wonderful experience at a community college. Ironically, I was enrolled in a graduate level program (MBA) at the time but due to class over-enrollments I couldn't get into some of the required classes at the state U I was attending. I received permission to take the same courses at our local community college and was surprised to discover that the teachers there really seemed to be much more in touch with students. And, they were great teachers to boot!</p>

<p>I have heard many, many reports that the faculty at Whitman College in Washington state is extremely involved with their students and go out of their way to forge one-on-one relationships. Faculty members at Whitman actually get a stipend every semester to spend on activities they do with students - whether it be having them over for dinner or taking them on a ski trip. I think that is a terrific idea - I'm sure there are other LAC's out there that do something similar.</p>

<p>i've found the professors at smith incredibly friendly and accomodating. just as an example, today a professor i had my first year (i'm now a junior) stopped me as i was walking, greeted me by name, and asked where i'd been last semester (i was doing a semester-in-washington program). i had no idea she'd even noticed i was gone! </p>

<p>there's also a long tradition here of taking lots of transfers from community colleges, so you might want to check it out!</p>

<p>I've heard only the most AMAZING things about the faculty at Washington and Lee University. Everyone is so friendly there, I've heard this from alumni, students and experienced it myself when I visited. One of the many reasons I chose it over more prestigous schools like Dartmouth.</p>

<p>How would anyone know such a thing? Back in my own college days, and immediately after, I met two young men who transfered to a new school every year--and still finished four-year degrees in just four years. Each of those guys had been to four different schools, but even they experienced only a small sampling of all the teachers in each school they attended. </p>

<p>Even if survey results report that students at College X say that the faculty care about them a lot, what's the baseline known to the students? And how was the survey conducted? (One of the better AP statistics textbooks reminds its readers that voluntary response data are worthless.) </p>

<p>How students in general at a particular college are treated is little guarantee of how YOU will be treated anyway. It might be interesting to find places where young people "like you" feel happy, but first you have to figure out what kind of students are like you.</p>

<p>Token, the aspect that Stacy reports about Smith is pervasive and virtually universal.</p>

<p>I agree with Token Adult - hard thing to measure - but will put a plug in for LACs in general and Grinnell in particular. My D's experience was extraordinary there. At graduation, we met many faculty members who taught her during the four years. We were amazed as to how many knew her by name, remembered papers she had done years before, and who had been so accessible to her during all four years. When she debated leaving the first job she had after graduation, she called her advisor for advice, and spoke to her for about an hour. They remain in touch 3 years later. D got a wonderful education there and she can't praise Grinnell enough - nor can we. My H is a college professor, who taught at an Ivy, so we do have some relevant experience. Too bad my S has no interest in LACs....</p>

<p>However, I think the main point to mention here is that no matter where you are - community college, state school, LAC, Ivy - an interested and committed student who is not afraid to make a point of seeing his or her professors outside of class can probably find a professor (or several) who can mentor, advise, etc. Make an appointment, stop in at office hours, ask about working on a research project, go for help with a paper - there are many ways to make contact. It is well worth the extra effort.</p>

<p>My own experience and the reports of many current and former LAC students would confirm what folks are saying here. Many factors come into play, including smaller student populations, no graduate students etc. I've often thought that LACs in small towns (Colgate, Grinnell, Earlham, Kenyon et al) were the best bet in this area as professors typically have shorter commutes and fewer competing activities - like shopping malls, gourmet restaurants, major symphonies and theatre companies etc.</p>

<p>Any college in which faculty think of themselves as teachers before they think of themselves as researchers is likely to have a more "caring" faculty.</p>

<p>In general this applies to lac's. It also applies to many faculty in residential colleges in large universities (such as James Madison College at Michigan State, or the RC at UMichigan). And it applies to some "peripheral" colleges in large university systems, such as New Paltz in the SUNY system.</p>

<p>But within these groups of schools you have to do your research to find faculty that are especially devoted to teaching. They ALL have research and other obligations, as well as teaching. And in some schools the teaching loads or class sizes are too high for faculty to apportion enough attention to individual students even if they think of themselves as teachers above all else.</p>

<p>Mackinaw makes a very important point. Caring faculty put personal importance on teaching - even if they only teach 1 or 2 classes a semester and do research the rest of the time, if they feel teaching is equally important to research, then they care about the students.
These "caring" faculty members who truly like teaching tend to gravitate to colleges that emphasize teaching, and can be found often at community colleges and at less prestigious universities - but some of them are at Yale, too. </p>

<p>I went to a 3rd tier school, but received a great basic education because all my classes were taught by profs, most of whom truly enjoyed teaching undergrads. My major was small, and basically the profs and the students were a family (with the ups and downs families entail). Did I take a lot of advanced classes or do cutting edge research? No. Was I well prepared for medical school and knew as much chem, bio and basic physics as my classmates - Yes. I also spent 3 years in marching band and winter guard, belonged to an honor society, and out of the blue was made copy editor for the yearbook my junior year - there were activities for the motivated, and not too much competition for spots.</p>

<p>Reid -- I'll add a corollary to your point that LACs in small towns (Colgate, Grinnell, Earlham, Kenyon etc.) may be particularly strong in providing caring faculty. In addition to having fewer competing activities and shorter commutes, the professors' own professional communities mirror the student communities they teach. Their friends are drawn from and their lives are centered on campus. They presumably share the students' enthusiasm for building their lives on campus.</p>

<p><deep springs....everybody="" knows="" everybody="" there....=""></deep></p>

<p>Well, I would hope so with 26 total enrollment :-)</p>

<p>S has a friend at Deep Springs. There is no way to avoid interaction in that environment! Fascinating place. One of the things S told me is that his friend helped review incoming applications. They held a bonfire to burn the applications of the rejected applicants. I wonder how many faculty they have there.</p>