How to Choose Your College Professors

Some find it taxing to choose the right professors for their classes. Follow these tips on finding the right professor for your learning style.

portrait of Kim-Ling Sun
by Kim-Ling Sun

Updated August 9, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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How to Choose Your College Professors
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The right professor can make or break a class. Someone who can teach you the history of the Americas like you're watching a theater production might be a professor you enjoy. One who drones on in a monotone voice reading slides may be one you wish to avoid.

This is why it's so important to research your college professors before you sign up for a class.

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Why It's Important to Research College Professors

When selecting your professors, you should consider three factors: teaching style, class difficulty, and whether students enjoyed the course.

Teaching Style

Professors' varying teaching styles can impact your ability to be successful in a college class. Some professors will be more explanatory, providing lots of context and examples to help you better understand the material.

Some professors will go straight through lecture notes and expect you to catch onto the material quickly. Depending on your learning style and your familiarity with the subject matter, one teaching style may appeal to you more than another.

Class Difficulty

Another factor to consider is the course's difficulty level. If the course is required for your major, you may want to be more selective with who you choose as your professor.

An easy professor in a difficult course may earn you an "A," but if it's a prerequisite, you may find yourself struggling in subsequent courses.

Student Reviews

Finally, you should consider student reviews to help you choose your college professors. Students will be brutally honest and help you get a snapshot of the professor's personality.

They can also give you insight into workload, whether the professor is organized, and how the professor grades. A professor who provides clear instruction can help maximize your success.

How to Find the Best Professors

There are several ways to seek out the best professors on your campus, including talking with past students, looking up anonymous reviews, and checking professors' academic websites.

Use Professor Review Websites

One way many college students are most familiar with is using review websites like Rate My Professors, Uloop, and Rate My Teachers. These websites allow students to anonymously post feedback on a professor.

Ask Around

Another way to choose your college professor is through word of mouth and by asking past or current students. This can be as simple as talking to friends, reaching out to members in college organizations you belong to, or even asking your wider network of friends on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Check Their Website

Another way to find the best professors for your course is to seek out their website and look to see if they have a syllabus posted. It may also give you insight into their academic interests.

If you can't gather enough information from their website or syllabus to form an idea of what to expect, you may need to ask your academic advisor for advice. They can help provide insight into which professor may be the best academic fit for you.

The Best Websites to Find Professor Ratings

There are several websites that can help inform your opinion of a professor, but the following three offer some of the most valuable information:

The Pros and Cons of Professor Rating Websites

While professor rating websites can be very insightful, there are some limitations when solely relying on them to inform your decision about which professor to take.

The Cons of Professor Rating Websites

Student reviews and ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, less successful students may write negative comments after not earning the grade they anticipated. Moreover, negative comments can also come from students who were unprepared for the course's reading load or level of required discussion.

There may also be an inherent gender bias against a professor or negative comments stemming from a professor having a noticeable accent.

The Pros of Professor Rating Websites

Some of the benefits of relying on these websites are that they will give you deeper insight into the professor's style. For example, you might realize you actually like a professor that other students didn't care for because they meet your own interests and learning style.

What might seem like a complaint about a professor "not teaching" and only focusing class time on discussion might actually indicate that their class requires you to actively participate and debate in a group setting. In a review like this, you learn that boring lecture notes are not part of this professor's teaching style.

What to Do When Course and Professor Options Are Limited

Taking the time to choose your professors is always a good idea. At the end of the day, however, there is still only a limited number of professors teaching the courses you need.

The one thing you shouldn't do is avoid classes you need to take for your degree because some students have commented that the professors are "not good." Use the information you find about the professor and plan accordingly.

If you find out a professor is heavy on reading expectations or provides limited assistance on papers before due dates, it gives you the chance to schedule extra reading time in your day. Or, you can plan to make appointments at your school's writing center to ensure your success.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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