The pride and joy of Grinnell College is its academic reputation. When the football team loses, it’s negative 11 degrees outside, potheads smell up the lounges, and another giant pit has replaced an outdated building, Grinnellians can always fall back on the great education. Most classes are challenging but very rewarding, and most professors demand a lot, challenging students to think critically. Few professors give excessive homework, but this doesn’t mean it is easy—professors expect papers to be well thought-out and well written. Classes may only take up 15 hours of your week, but, in order to get that golden A, the readings, papers, and homework assignments can take between 40 and 60 hours. The professors choose to teach at Grinnell because they want to connect directly with students in small classes. The faculty boasts excellent qualifications, and as such, the academic environment enables students to develop a personal relationship with brilliant minds in various fields.
The fact that most students are intelligent does not mean that everyone does well. The atmosphere is not competitive, and bad grades are common. Yet, the constant presence of smart students in your classes means you really need to surpass expectations to get that A. The only course required is the First-Year Tutorial, a writing class that focuses on interesting topics (e.g., "Psychoanalysis and 'The Wire,'" "Economics Goes to the Movies," "Numbers," and many more). The free reign you have over your schedule has only one downside: you leave Grinnell with a list of about 30 to 40 classes you wish you could have taken. While the work is tough and the hours long, you find dedicated, passionate students who are so very curious and engaged. Therein lies Grinnell's value.