There's a small bunch of highly intellectual students who frequent office hours, take graduate classes, get involved in research, and sprint for fellowships and Phi Beta Kappa keys. At first, these kids are often frustrated by the lack of intellectual energy at UB, but most seek it out in small classes, academic clubs, or professors' homes. Then there's everybody else: students who care about their grades and want to get a good job after college, but keep quiet in class and steer clear of the library until finals week. These students (many of whom are paying their own way) are generally happy with their UB education, but they often gripe about big classes and boring TAs.
The academic scene, like so much else at UB, lives and dies by the school's size. UB is one of the most productive research universities in the nation. Students have an extraordinary variety of things to study. Many build their own majors, join a five-year program, or switch majors one, two, or three times. Most of its schools are ranked well nationally, and some, such as the business and engineering schools, are ranked among the best in the world. Professors are popular and accessible. Come registration time, the choice of classes is nearly infinite. But the school's size can be an obstacle. While most students like their professors, most dislike big lecture classes, especially if they are taught by TAs. Few students forget the first time they put their ID number at the top of a test instead of their name. Undergraduate study also shares the limelight with the mostly top-flight graduate schools and the research culture. Some of UB's harshest critics say the school is nothing but a "research university." But even those students who feel alienated by UB's size generally agree that you can't beat it for the price.