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WUSTL vibe

rileygrlrileygrl 29 replies3 threads Junior Member
We are thinking of adding this to my son's list. It checks a lot of boxes for him (right size, beautiful campus, residential community, less cold than northeast, friendly, strong academics.) However, I can't get a read on the vibe/culture. Some say collaborative, some say intense/competitive (not what we are looking for.) Can anyone help clarify? Not afraid of hard work/motivated students but trying to avoid cut-throat, stressed environments. Will major in STEM in some capacity, but not pre-med, probably not engineering, not CS, in case that makes a difference. Thank you!
edited June 24
9 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: WUSTL vibe

  • HamurtleHamurtle 2740 replies36 threads Senior Member
    My son is a rising junior Biology/History double major (and for good measure a CompSci minor) and he hasn’t experienced any cutthroat/gunner types in his classes. It is definitely a collaborative environment where students help each other out.

    Classes are going to be intense though. A lot of the introductory math and science courses are weeders, but that because instructors emphasize concepts instead of rote memorization. The intensity will be from the difficulty of the classes, not competition from fellow students.

    Of course your mileage may vary, but our experience has been positive so far.
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  • ChicagoSportsFnChicagoSportsFn 496 replies0 threads Member
    My DD is a senior now. From her experience, no cutthroat stuff going on. All collaborative. Plus, LOTS of free help available to students who may be having difficulty understand the concepts in a particular class.

    No doubt though, it’s a stressful environment. The intro classes (eg gen chem) are tough. Kids who were academic studs/studettes in HS are now getting 60s/70s in chemistry and that won’t sit well with their psyche.

    Before the first big chem exam, my DD said there were a couple times she saw ambulances in the South 40. Kids were freaking out and stressing themselves over the exam. It’s understandable kids who never or failed very little in all aspects of their life all of a sudden realize failure (pick your definition of this) is a reality and don’t react well to it. Not trying to scare you here but trying to set expectations from my DD’s experience.

    I am SO lucky my DD is resilient though. She loves WashU. She’s not straight As like in HS, but she’s rolling with all of it.

    What she’s learned at WashU has been a practical asset because she knows the material well. She didn’t just memorize the stuff for the exam. She knows the concepts and can apply it. She helped her younger sister with chemistry and calculus in HS. Her younger sister is now a plebe at West Point. Just the other day, her younger sister texted her big sister for help on a chemistry assignment. Even though chemistry was 3 years ago, DD was able to help. She still knows the material.

    The students get a lot of advisors. She had a lot of touchpoints with her 4-year advisor during her freshman year.

    @Hamurtle is always spot on with these posts. Mileage will vary. All collaborative and not cutthroat. Classes are intense.
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2740 replies36 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2019
    From my son’s experiences, Chemistry classes will be tough, but they are well taught. And in some years, that 70% is a solid B+/A-.

    The first class of the Introductory Chemistry sequence is fondly referred to as ‘Baby Quantum Physics’ by the professors. If Loomis is teaching, by all means take his class. He’s the Chemistry Department graduate school advisor and knows his stuff and is an excellent lecturer. Doesn’t give out that many A’s (son got a B+ which was better than a lot of kids), but he felt it was one of his most favorite classes.

    General Chemistry has changed at WashU in that there is another sequence (105/106) which can be taken by STEM majors instead of the 111A/112A series of classes. Supposedly 105/106 does not go into as much detail about physical chemistry and might be more watered down.

    Organic Chemistry has a life sciences version for premed/bio majors which is watered down as well and not as brutal as the other 261/262 sequence.

    I would advise that if you have AP credit for Calculus BC, use them. Calculus 1/2 are not taught very well according to some students.

    Calculus 3 used to be more straightforward and better taught (lots of kids got A’s) but the scuttlebutt from students is that it’s been changed to make things harder.
    edited September 2019
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  • JimkingwoodJimkingwood 132 replies1 threads Junior Member
    D was successful at WashU, did well, got into a top grad school (her first choice of school and major) but I'm not 100% sure she'd go to WashU if she had to do it all over.

    She is mixed race and found St. Louis disturbingly segregated. She was really bothered by it. Also there were a handful of carjackings near campus, though no one killed AFAIK.

    As for the race stuff, like other than the obvious what you see every day in St. Louis, even in class sometimes it could get weird. Like if an African American contributed in class, others might turn around and make comments about "you people" this or "you people" that. She'd never seen or heard anything like that. Midwestern people can be really really really naive about race.

    Food is pretty much just OK. Def not great. We are from a southwest city in Texas and no midwestern city is going to match up, food-wise. Same thing race-wise. Go to a restaurant or a ball game here and the crowds are full of people of every race and creed. She finds that pretty much a normal day.

    Also the school is extraordinarily wealthy, she may have felt a little funny about that. She and her friends certainly joked about it a lot.

    As for vibe? She'd be the first to tell you - she certainly told me - that there is not that much of a "vibe", or culture.
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  • JimkingwoodJimkingwood 132 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I would say that D's experience was that EVERYBODY in her chem and math classes - literally everyone - had passed all the AP Chem and Calc. There were a big sprinkling of valedictorians and such.

    GenChem II especially is a showstopper for many students. If your kid is going STEM and doesn't have A's in STEM classes in high school and all the usual STEM AP's, then they may feel really out of place. Washu, in my opinion, is not the place to learn core STEM concepts. That needs to be already done, in spades.

    WashU can be one of those what I call "be careful what you wish for" schools. Once admitted, especially for STEM, you are going to be very strongly challenged.
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  • U2FanFromALU2FanFromAL 5 replies0 threads New Member
    I am a current freshman at WashU. Yes, it is stressful, classes are difficult, but you are going to find that at any top university. However, WashU truly is a collaborative environment. Everybody here (faculty and peers) wants each other to succeed through hard work. WashU also provides SO MANY resources for you to be successful in your classes. This is truly one of the best schools to be at for a challenging environment that is not cutthroat/competitive like UChicago, MIT, Ivys.
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  • lachhilachhi 40 replies2 threads Junior Member
    My son is a freshman. He is a double major in STEM (and he happens to be an Under Represented Minority). We are from the Bay Area. Yes WashU is academically challenging - the incoming GPA's and SAT/ACT scores are comparable to the Ivies, Stanford, etc... Most of my sons classmates are very well prepared and the academic level in his classes is very high - most students have AP classes coming in. However, he finds his classmates are very collaborative and even supportive - he helps others in classes where he is stronger. He has not felt intimidated by the academics and is doing well academically. He is considering adding a minor - but this just his 1st semester so no final decision on that yet. He has a good friend group and is really enjoying college life. It seems college is better for him than high school was - probably because in high school all the kids, like him, were trying to figure out the college application process while chasing the grades and extra-curricular activities etc...

    The Bay Area is known to be a liberal/progressive place but even here there are naive and even retrograde people. He hasn't found it be that different there in St. Louis - but he is mostly around WashU campus that, like most college campuses, is fairly liberal/progressive. We never thought he would go to school in the Midwest - we hadn't spent much time there and none of us had ever been to St. Louis. We found the people in St Louis and WashU to be sincerely warm. The weather can be extreme compared to Bay Area - but I suppose it is milder compared to the Northern parts of the country. But for him even the different weather adds to the experience.

    His dorm-mates and classmates are from everywhere - he has a good friend group that includes students form all over the U.S. and other countries.

    In summary the vibe at the WashU and the surrounding area is a supportive one. My son feels included. The academics are at a high level but the Professors are accessible and the classmates are collaborative and supportive - not competitive. He is really enjoying WashU. We are grateful he found WashU.
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2740 replies36 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    As a WashU parent of a junior, our experiences have been positive so far. My California Bay Area kid loves the school and hasn’t regretted his decision. His mother wanted either Berkeley or USC, both of which I don’t care for at all.

    St. Louis is no better and no worse than any major city. And the Delmar divide is unfortunately a fact. But the school is trying its best to further ties with the greater St. Louis community.

    Midwest people seem more genuine than people in the Bay Area at times. My son’s WashU friends are all Midwesterners (from Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio) and he prefers to hang out with them. Which is odd for an Asian kid, but he has somewhat of a Midwestern sensibility about him.
    edited December 2019
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