When I’m choosing my classes for a semester, I always look into the professor first. Even if the course description sounds perfect, if I know the professor’s teaching style or personality won’t work for me, the class will either be harder than it has to be (I don’t do well with daily reading quizzes) or I won’t get enough out of it (class where we only watch movies: pointless to my life).
I personally love discussion based classes and don’t mind writing essays. Some of my friends love listening to professors who are great lecturers or enjoy doing group projects. Since everyone is different, the best way to find out if you will like a professor takes much more than knowing other people thought he or she was great. The following are some more objective qualities to consider… from your own subjective view of course.
Even if you are a top student, it is always nice to have an understanding professor who can sympathize with stressed out, overly busy college students. Professors who seem to take themselves too seriously and forget that their class is only one of five or six others you are currently taking can be really difficult to deal with. You will learn the most with a professor who will rearrange the syllabus to the students’ pace of understanding the material instead of strictly sticking to a schedule while everyone falls behind.
A teacher with no personality will put you to sleep. Simple as that. The more animated and upbeat a teacher is, the more engaged you will be in the class. On the other hand, if you’re on the shy side and a professor is notorious for calling on students at random and will be rather upfront with you, you might want to find someone who has enough energy to show his passion for teaching his subject, without making you feel uncomfortable.
Being able to understand your professor is critically important. And no, I’m not just talking about thick foreign accents or low whispery voices. Some professors are highly intelligent but they aren’t the best at communicating their ideas. If you find yourself on a consistent basis having no idea what exactly a professor is trying to get at, you won’t be learning the material fully.
Getting “busywork” is one of the most frustrating things for students. Yes, homework is important so that you can practice the skills you are learning, but a teacher assigning tons of work that doesn’t seem to be helping you learn or remember anything of importance does nothing but create stress. Equally frustrating is showing up for class only to have a professor go so off topic that you’ve learned nothing… thanks for the funny family stories but I could have stayed in bed. Find a professor who makes the most of your time inside and outside of the classroom.
A teacher who you feel you can talk to is the best type of teacher there is. You should always be comfortable enough to approach your professor about getting extra help or for advice in his area of expertise. Further, a professor should never make you think that the only way to succeed in his class is to copy his exact opinion. The best learning environment is one in which you can freely speak your mind. You shouldn’t have to worry about your professor’s reaction; you should find a professor who is open to all intelligent comments and respects the beliefs of all of his students.
Amanda Gallucci is a junior at Providence College in Rhode Island, studying English and Business. She is actively involved in Dance Club, Social Justice Advocacy, Student Alumni Association and is a member of NSCS. She hopes to one day land a marketing position in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @agalluch.