If you’re attending college, you’ll notice a certain amount of freedom granted in picking your classes. You actually get to set up your schedule on your own, and this means you have control of not only what you take, but of whom you take it with. This should make anyone who’s had a bad teacher smile because they probably understand better than anyone how important the quality of theteacher is in education. That said, if you’ve never chosen your professors before, you might need some guidance in how to make sure you’re doing the best job.
Avoid Being Superficial
Just because someone is attractive, that doesn’t make them a good teacher. If someone is funny, they’re not necessarily a good teacher. If someone holds classes exclusively in the afternoon five minutes away from your dorm, that doesn’t make them a good teacher. When picking a professor, these are not metrics you should use. You need to focus on whether or not they’re actually good at their job or you could be setting yourself up for disaster.
If you have the ability to do so, a great way to see if a professor’s style is right for you is to audit one of their classes. This would involve you sitting in on a class or two without actually registering for it. It’s a great way to not only see if you like the professor but to also see what a particular class is like beyond the course description in your school’scatalog. Stop by the professor’s office hours and ask if she or he is cool with you dropping by.
Talk to Previous Students
If you have friends who have experience with a certain professor, ask them their opinions. Think of it like a real-life Yelp. That said, it’s a double-edged sword. The opinions of others are often colored by their own expectations and experiences, both of which will be different than yours. Watch out for people who bad mouth a professor because they got a bad grade or because they thought the subject matter was boring. If you choose college professors based solely on the opinions of others, you’ll be setting yourself up for a bad college experience whether you’re at ACU or Harvard University.
If you have a good idea of what you respond to in a teacher, this is probably the most important part of your professorial selection process. Knowing that you check out when someone is overly confrontational or that you don’t take grown-up class clowns seriously will be of immeasurable help to you when you’re trying to figure out who should be your teacher. If there are three composition teachers at Claremont College, but only one of them appears to take themselves seriously, you’ll know that person will be best for you.