What’s vital to understanding SLC academics is its emphasis on the individual. With a small student-to-teacher ratio and no teaching assistants, seminars are all about you. Classes consist of roundtable discussions in which speaking your mind is practically mandatory. Professors will push you to your intellectual limit—and then they’ll push you some more. For this reason, skipping readings or homework assignments can be disastrous. While the grading system is flexible at SLC, your professors will write candid, detailed evaluations of your performance each semester, and they’ll come down hard on you if you’ve been slacking. And while a professor may become your friend, the opposite scenario does occur: SLC students and faculty tend to be eccentric characters, and the intimacy of the seminar system can lead to personality clashes.
Class registration is a week-long rush of paperwork and nail-biting stress as students scramble to interview professors of prospective classes. Freshmen may feel ill-equipped to compete for a class against juniors or seniors. The best advice is to come to each interview with a few specific questions, relax (deep breaths!), and just be yourself. Everyone has an equal opportunity to get into the desired course—you just have to sell yourself and your interest. The faculty thrives on a love of learning just as much as the students and seeks to actively shape its undergraduates as individual thinkers in a rewarding give-and-take atmosphere. Professors look for hardworking students to place on their priority lists, but ultimately it’s up to the computer in the registrar’s office. Professors range from well-published old-timers to teachers fresh out of graduate school. Yet, what truly unites the faculty is an overall approachability, a love of learning, and high standards for the students.