Common Types of Professors & How to Succeed with Them

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Teacher with students in classroom

You’ll meet all sorts of professors at university — some you’ll love instantly, whereas others could fail to engage you or be demanding in their standards for assignments. Typically, professors fall into a few main categories. When you start a new class, it helps to categorize the professor to figure out what you’ll need to do to succeed.

1. The Less Interesting Professor

Unfortunately, you’ll probably take some classes that you find boring. The classes students find the most uninteresting tend to be those required to graduate but unrelated to their major. The fact you dislike the class may have nothing to do with the professor and everything to do with the material. Having said that, when professors know that students don’t even want to be attending the class, they may put in minimal effort to engage you and just follow along with the textbook.

It may be tempting to skip these classes, but this is never a good strategy. Even if you don’t gain extra credit for your attendance, listening to lectures will help you absorb the information and avoid you needing to devote many hours of your own time to studying.

2. The Professor Who Goes Too In Depth

There are two possibilities why you may struggle to follow along in a class: your professor may not be explaining in a way that makes sense to you or the content could be difficult. Some classes you’ll take will push you far out of your comfort zone — and if your professor doesn’t simplify concepts, you may find it difficult to keep up. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professor for extra help and advice. Other ways to ensure you always understand include reading ahead before class, searching for lecture notes online, and finding a tutor.

3. The Passionate Professor

You’re in luck whenever you find a professor who is passionate about the material you’re covering, especially if you also share an interest in the subject. Even if you weren’t particularly excited about taking the class, you’ll likely find that the professor’s enthusiasm rubs off on you. There are no extra steps to take to succeed with these professors. In fact, you may find they inspire you to work harder at your other classes, too.

4. The Low Talker

Some professors don’t project their voice enough, making it difficult to hear everything if you’re sitting near the back. This has a simple solution: pick a seat near the front of the room. Plus, if questions are allowed during the lecture, raise your hand and ask for clarification if there’s ever a point when you don’t hear what your professor said. The likelihood is other students also couldn’t hear and will appreciate that you asked.

5. The Textbook Writer

The downside of having a professor who wrote the textbook for a class is that it may be difficult to find the book anywhere other than the campus bookstore — where it’s selling for a high price. Before you buy, though, find out if any students who have already taken the class are selling an old book and check on rental services.

There’s also an advantage of having a textbook writer as your professor: your teacher knows the material exceptionally well. If you have any questions about the text, pay your professor a visit during office hours for the chance to talk to an expert.

You may be able to drop some classes with professors whose teaching styles don’t align with your learning style. However, at some points during your time at university, you will have classes with professors you find uninteresting or demanding and you’ll need to push through because the class is a requirement to graduate. In these cases, the best thing to do is study hard. This means having somewhere you can go to concentrate in peace. For instance, you can find fully-furnished rooms for rent near University of Alberta at 1Ten on Whyte. You’ll have a desk and chair in your private bedroom, access to onsite study rooms, and the use of the boardroom if you want to host a meeting. Apply now to live just 1 kilometre from campus.

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