Impressing Your Professors: A ‘How To’ Guide For New Students

Going to a new school can be scary – from moving into a dorm to trying to navigate through the dining hall.  Luckily, I have a few tips to help you do well in your classes. Once you feel comfortable in the classroom, I promise that the other new aspects of college life will fall into place.

Although adjusting to college life can be difficult at first, it will get much easier once you feel comfortable in class.  For this reason, it is vital that you create strong connections with your professors.  The first step is to sit in the front of the classroom. This will make a great impression on your professor, even if you’re in a huge lecture hall.  Also, it will prevent you from getting distracted as easily during class and keep you off of your phone and Facebook.  Not to mention, since you’ll be paying more attention to lecture material, there’s a good chance your grade will increase as well.

The second step is to go to office hours!  Even if you understand the material fairly well, it can still be very beneficial for you (and your GPA) if you pop in and say hello to your professor during their office hours. They schedule these hours purposely so that students can come by. They can provide additional helpful information and clear up all of your questions.  Another great part about visiting your professors during office hours is that it may help you to find a clearer path concerning what you’re interested in as a major or career.  They can become your mentor and help inspire you to choose the direction in which you would like to go.  After all, isn’t that why they’re there?

The last step is something you probably know from high school, but is just as important now.  Can anyone guess? That’s right…class participation!  It is very important that you participate regularly – and not just for the sake of your grade. It’s also important that your professor gets to know you and (hopefully) is impressed with your enthusiasm toward learning.

Follow this “How-To Guide” and you will be good to go! I have no doubt that these helpful tools will be of great service to you! I wish you luck in school, but now I am confident that you won’t need it!

Written by Guest Blogger, Ilana S. of Rutgers University

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Terrible Professor this Semester? Read This.

My worst professors were truly cringe-worthy. Need an example? Junior year, my advisor recommended I take “The Search for Life in the Universe,” to get a non-lab science class out of the way. The fact that I purposely skipped physics in High School in favor of taking nutrition did not faze me in the slightest. I did not stop to think about what kind of person it takes to get a PhD in the study of extraterritorial life. I did not do what I should have done and immediately log onto RateMyProfessor.com. Bad choice.

Know What You’re Getting Into

The most useful advice I have ever received for course enrollment is to always use RateMyProfessor.com, or talk to someone who has previously had this professor, before signing up for the class. You’re paying for your education, and having an interesting and organized professor is the first step toward getting your money’s worth. Information will allow you to choose a Professor whose class you will enjoy and do well in.

There are several things to take into consideration before signing up for a class: Does this Professor has a fair testing and grading system? Is the amount of work expected equal to the credits received from this course? Is this teacher’s curriculum style best suited for your learning needs? Each of these variables can affect your performance in the course.

Act Fast

Within the first week of “The Search for Life” I realized that the description for this class should have mentioned a Physics prerequisite. I did not need any knowledge of astrophysics, however, to figure out this Professor zero interest in people doing well in his class. I had neglected to do the research and now I had to make a quick decision whether to drop or change the course. If you notice one of these early signs of a bad professor, it may be time to get out while you still can.

Check your options immediately. You may be able to change classes. If there are other sections with a different professor you may be able to switch easily. If that’s not an option, you may be able to swap this course with another one that satisfies the same requirement before the Add/Drop period. If it turns out you’re just stuck taking this awful course it may be time to flip the switch into survival mode. Surviving doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. Chances are your peers are also having difficulties.

Talk to the people around you

Find out who takes really good notes, or perhaps has had prior experience with the material. Even better, find if anyone has had this professor. There may be tricks to predicting what will be on the tests. While taking an excruciatingly specific anthropology class for my International Studies minor, I realized some of the Anthropology majors in my class had taken several classes with this professor. They were able to not only help me study, but give me useful tips. They explained that although there were 3 required texts, this guy only pulled test questions from the book he had written himself - typical. The takeaway from this is professors and their teaching styles vary greatly. Whether you’re looking what courses to sign up for, or you’re enrolled in a miserable class, information can make all the difference.

 

If all else fails – just be glad your professor isn’t Severus Snape.

Who’s the worst professor you’ve ever had? Stay tuned for more college survival tips!

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