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.
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!