Choosing a professor doesn’t have to be scary

In high school, when registering for classes, one likely knew what to take and had an even better idea as to which teacher to choose for each class. But now, as a college freshman and back on the bottom of the academic totem pole, students might be lost with no idea which professors or courses to take.

Coming into college meant the freedom of being able to take what I wanted to instead of the standard courses found in high school. I knew that there was a track that I needed to be on, but there were plenty of courses that I could choose from to move along that track. I was nervous, though, about what to take. Would I like the class? Would I like the professor? Would the professor like me?

I had been accustomed to the high- school way of things previously: meet with a guidance counselor, get a teacher to recommend something and viola, done. Things definitely don’t work like that around here, but I feel as though I lucked out on professors and courses my first semester.

Now I have to start picking classes and professors for next semester and beyond. What should I do?

One thing to do is to talk to upperclassmen. Find out about their experiences in certain classes or with certain professors.

Students looking into a specific class next semester should attempt to talk to professors one-on-one. Students should show their interest in taking a course and ask a few questions. Those deciding to take a specific class will have the added advantage of knowing the professor already.

If current professors do a good job, ask whether they are teaching another class, and if those classes work, then register for that class. Why ruin a good thing?

An interesting alternative is a professor-rating Web site at . Here, one can find USF’s page and browse through almost 1,000 professors and their ratings. I don’t know how reliable this service is, but judging from the reviews, it seems to be a popular resource among students.

Those stuck in a less-than-desirable class where they are not too thrilled with the professor should determine why they are unhappy before dropping. Is the professor too strict? Is the work too much? Does a professor dress badly? The reasons for dropping a class should be justified, not childish.

So don’t stress out. Students have more than 2,000 professors on the Tampa campus from which to choose, and each professor’s job is to educate students. Not all professors may be great or inspiring, but give them and their class a shot. A challenge never hurt anyone.

Olivia Hattan is a freshman majoring in mass communications.