How to Choose a Good Professor
usinfo | 2013-09-22 09:39

Finding a great college professor or instructor can make all the difference. College campuses are full of bad professors you should avoid, but with a little luck, you'll also find teachers who are gems and that will change your life. It's worth the time to look for the good ones. Here's some ways to find the best professors on campus--and how to find out about the ones you should avoid.
Ask Other Students
Your campus is filled with people who have inside information about who's a good teacher, so take advantage of your fellow students. However, when doing so, proceed with caution. Be sure to get a variety of opinions about a professor or instructor, as student experiences do vary. And try to ask students who share your educational goals. If you're a serious student, don't for advice from a student who hates challenging professors (although you could always take the opposite of this student's advice).
In addition, try to get detailed feedback about why students liked or did not like someone. The more information you have, the better chance you'll have of finding a professor that suits you.
Ask Other Professors and Instructors
Teachers probably aren't going to rat out other teachers that they think are poor. However, they will tell you who they think is an exceptionally good teacher. Other students tell them about classes they love, and most teachers will be happy to share that information with you if you ask.
Ask Your Academic Advisor
Academic advisors also are more likely to tell you about good teachers than bad ones. They're a great source of information because they talk to lots of students, so they've heard about the good teachers. If you need a world history requirement and have no idea what history professors are worthwhile, your advisor can report back to you that many of her students rave about the medieval Europe professor.
Find Out about Teaching Awards
Most campuses give out teaching awards, and needless to say, this is evidence of a good teacher. To find out who's won an award, check out the school website, or ask around.
Visit a Teacher's Class and Office Hours
Don't be afraid to do a little independent research. Most professors welcome visitors in their classes (and if they don't, that may be a sign that this isn't the best teacher). Unless it's a lecture hall, just be sure to ask before you sit down. In addition, stop by a teacher's office hours to ask a few questions about a class. Students don't do this very often, and most teachers will be delighted to meet with a student who's interested.
In addition, if the teacher has a website, check it out. It might give you a sense of who this person is. It also can be helpful to ask a teacher for a copy of his syllabus.
College Professor Ratings Websites
These websites allow students to anonymously rank, discuss, and rant about their teachers. This can be helpful -- but always take the contents of these websites with a huge grain of salt. Unless there are a large number of ratings, the websites don't offer a representative sample of what most students think. And you never know who wrote those ratings. It's possible that an angry ex wrote a negative one, or that an egotistical professor wrote himself a positive one. Here's what you should know about college professor ratings websites.
College education is expensive and time consuming, and you should get the most out of your experience, Take the time to find the best professors on campus, and the professors who best suit your needs as a student.
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