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Point/Counterpoint: Should you pick classes based on your schedule, or the prof?

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Point: Timing is everything

The simple remedy for the pain of 8 a.m. classes is to organize your schedule around times that are convenient for you.  When you fill your schedule with back-to-back classes, you can free up time later in the day for student groups or a part-time job.

Crappy professors are survivable, and they may even grow on you.  Take a class at a time that doesn’t work well for you and you will grow to hate it for the rest of the term.  This isn’t constrained to just early morning classes — there may be an evening class whose prof got stellar reviews, but it likely conflicts with any student group you are part of, and definitely vetoes hanging out with your friends on those evenings.

Reviews can be subjective. Online reviews often don’t do a professor justice, and you end up getting a different experience than expected.  Class times, on the other hand, are set in stone.

A professor may decide to change how they approach the class, so that “easy A” you expected turns into one of your more difficult classes, but they won’t turn around and change the time on you.

If you are choosing a class based on popularity, you are racing against other students to get a spot. If you are choosing one based on time, you will know immediately whether it will fit into your schedule or not.

In the end, your professor is not the sole source of knowledge in your course.  You have textbooks, study groups, mentors, and online resources to compensate for occasions where your prof sucks at teaching. Watching a YouTube video to review material you missed is a healthier option than chugging an energy drink to get you through a poorly-planned day. So do yourself a favour, and worry less about picking the perfect professors.

— Shay Lewis


Counterpoint: Profs matter

When maintaining both your sanity and your GPA, picking the right professor is vital. Building a convenient timetable is great, but compared to an awful professor, an 8 a.m. class isn’t so terrible.

Don’t underestimate the impact the professor has on the quality of their class. They’re the ones giving the lectures, writing the syllabus, and marking the assignments (if they aren’t pawning that off on a T.A.). They have the discretion to give extensions, extra credit, or feedback on first drafts. A bad professor will bore you with dull lectures, stress you out with additional assignments, or disappear whenever you have a question about the exam. An amazing prof can demystify tough subjects, captivate you with their passion, or even make you laugh.

Picking the right professor isn’t just about you being at the mercy of an instructor for four months, it’s also about having a good understanding of your strengths and how to best apply them. Some online research can tell you a lot about a professor’s teaching style, and you can choose your classes accordingly. Professors who dish out participation marks left and right are great for those who learn best through discussion. If you thrive by skipping classes and taking your own notes, you can find profs who exclusively test out of the textbook or their slides posted on eClass.

As a university student, you have flexibility to decide what your educational experience is going to look like. Your mental health and your grades will benefit more from picking classes that you enjoy and fit your learning style.  When you’re building your schedule, open up some professor reviews while you’re waiting for BearTracks to load. As for 8 a.m. classes, there’s always plenty of coffee on campus.

— Drew Kantor

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