How to Choose a Professor

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I cant believe its already time to register for Spring 2008 classes.

I dont know about you, but I usually have a three day window to lock in my classes. And that doesnt give me much time to research professors and find out what classes fit best into my schedule.

One thing Ive learned about being motivated and excited about a class is to find a good professor. It doesnt really matter if the class title seems really boring – its all about who is teaching it.

You see, a great professor can make even the most trivial subject seem interesting. They can make subjects come alive and cause you to think about the topic in a whole new way. And its those types of professors that you should gravitate toward. Those are the ones that will help you think better and thats what college is all about.

When I was an undergraduate student, I tended to choose instructors who I heard were difficult. Yep, the professors that students warned me about were the ones that I actually really liked. I think its because I loved the challenge of a difficult instructor. And I loved being mentally-pushed by an instructor who really loved teaching.

Now, let me tell you that I didnt just choose difficult professors willy-nilly. There are two types of difficult instructors: those who really love to teach; and those that dont teach in an organized fashion (and dont clearly articulate what they are looking for in assignments). You obviously want to choose the professors who love teaching and want to help you succeed.

Its so important to think more about who is teaching your classes, rather than what classes look the most interesting to you. It can make all the difference in the world in terms of your motivations, interest-level, and ultimate class grade.

So how do you find out who the good teacher are?

Well, aside from asking your classmates for recommendations, check out these online resources:

How to Succeed in College—7 Helpful Tips

Everyone wants to succeed in school, but it gets tough when you have so much homework and tests to prepare for. To help you study smarter, here are seven helpful tips to help you succeed:

Talk with your Instructor during Office Hours
Most students never visit their teachers during office hours. Office hours are a great time to get clarification on concepts taught in class, and also a great way to get advice on studying for tests or writing essays. Most teachers love when students visit them because it means you’re interested in learning and getting your assignments right. Don’t be like other students—meet with your teachers on a regular basis. If you can’t meet with them during office hours, try talking with them during class breaks or right before or after class.

Get Approval on Your Essays Before Writing
Okay, we all love to procrastinate, but when it comes to writing great essays, you need to start early. Write your essay thesis and outline as soon as possible. Then meet with your teacher in office hours, or via email, and have your outline reviewed. Your teacher will probably give you some great advice on how to improve or shape your paper. Once you’re essay is finished, get it proofread by several other students. And if you finish really early, ask if your teacher will review your essay before submission.

Get a Study Partner from Class
It’s not always practical to study with another student in your class, but try to do this at least once—especially before a final exam. Study partners can be extremely helpful because they can help clarify subjects taught in class. They might have also written down some notes you might have missed. They also can be great proofreaders for your class essays.

Use Flash Cards
If you’re class requires memorization of key terms or concepts, make flash cards. Flash cards can help you learn concepts quicker because you can study the cards wherever you are. All you need is a big pack of flash cards and a rubber band. Just remember to just have one main point or concept on each card. Don’t make the mistake of putting too much info on a card.

Highlight Your Books
You know those big, yellow highlighters that you used to color with as a kid. Get one and use it to highlight important concepts in your book. Highlighting important parts of your textbooks will help you quickly review your textbook later. And if possible, purchase textbooks with highlights and notes already included. Former notes from students can really help identify key concepts.

Write in Your Textbook
One of the best ways to learn is by getting involved in your study material. You can get involved by writing notes in you textbooks. Circle important words. Underline vital concepts. Write down questions in the margin. Summarize key concepts and write them down on the page. The more you write, the more you’ll probably learn.

Get the Contact Info of Students in Class
Get the contact information from at least two other students in class. You never know when you’ll miss a class, and it’s nice to have someone to call to find out what happened. This is a must for any student.

Succeeding in school takes work, but if you study smart and meet with your teachers on a regular basis, you’ll have a much easier time.