More questions about school

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by TanTJ, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. TanTJ

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 6, 2008
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    Hello all, I've got a couple more questions about school. A little background on me, I recently went back to school starting at a community college and planning on transferring to a 4 year school to get my bachelors in Electrical Engineering.

    Here's my question, obviously math is a large part of obtaining this degree and it looks like something that I'm going to use quite a bit. I'm pretty decent at math and have completed Calc I and II so far, looking at taking Calc III and Diff Eq's next year. At this point there are still options for teachers, some being fairly easy, some hard, and some ridiculously hard. Does anyone think it would be in my best interests to go for it and take a harder teacher in the hopes that it will benefit me down the line, or would it be better to shoot for the easier teacher and possibly a better grade? Do you think a harder teacher now would help prepare me for higher math classes later where the choice of teachers is more limited and the chances of being stuck with a really hard one are much greater?

    One last thing, the reason this I'm debating this is that I'm still working full time and my free time/studying time is very limited. I've done well so far juggling my schedule but I've heard horror stories about some of these teachers assigning a ton of homework and I'd hate to get swamped with homework from just one class and have the rest of my classes suffer because of it. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated and I apologize for the long read.
     
  2. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    5,677
    900
    Are you equating easy and hard with bad and good professors, respectively? It seems awfully short-sighted to pay a lot of money for tuition to take a course that is essential for your career and then short change yourself by picking the worst professor for whatever reason. So, pick the best professor, regardless of whether s/he is easy or hard.

    Something, though, doesn't seem right. In my years of schooling, I don't recall ever having to make the type of choice you are describing. By "teacher" are you referring to the professor or to someone more equivalent to a teaching assistant who teaches a small section of the larger course? If it is the latter, I am not sure my answer would change, but it might have an effect. Again, though, it is a choice I never had to make. I would make my decision based on quality, not hard or easy, unless there are other factors. As an example of such a factor, one of my daughters is hearing impaired. The TA for a math section was Russian born, and the combination of accent and poor hearing was not good. She could not transfer from that section (schools are aware that students try to cherry pick the easy instructors), but she was able to attend another section in addition where language was not such an issue.

    John
     
  3. Nanophotonics

    Active Member

    Apr 2, 2009
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    I would go for a good professor. A professor giving a lot of homework to his/her students doesn't necessarily mean the professor is good/hard. Go for those you can understand and enjoy the lectures. Whether the subject is easy or hard, you'll find it much easier to deal with appropriately.
     
  4. TanTJ

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 6, 2008
    21
    0
    John,

    Thanks for the reply, that was what I was looking for. It is kind of hard for me to define or relate easy and hard to good and bad professors. As you well know, a hard professor doesn't necessarily equate to a challenging but good class.

    I had two examples in mind when I was thinking about this. The first would be the one you described where language is a barrier, and the particular professor I had in mind has little patience for students who have a hard time understanding him. I can foresee this being an issue I run into the further I progress through school and was wondering if it would be a good learning experience to go through now in order to prepare me for when it happens later during higher level classes.

    The second example is a professor that is a good quality professor, but gives a pretty big work load. The benefit to this would be that I would learn more relevant material for an engineering degree. To date I have had some great math professors, but I have noticed they leave out many of the practical application type questions that might be beneficial to me in the future and I think this professor might cover more of that material.

    I also have to take into consideration that I'm working full time as well as going to school full time and I really don't want my grades to suffer. I'm maintaining a pretty good GPA and would like to keep it that way, but if a hit in grades is worth the extra knowledge I might consider taking the harder professor.
     
  5. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    So true. Remember too, that student assessment is not always accurate. It may be related to personality or even the time of day the class is held. That is, students may be more grumpy in an 0800 class that starts on time than in a 1300 class.

    Avoid, if possible. If not, work around it as my daughter did. You will run into enough boorish people in life to get plenty training dealing with them. You don't need that training now.

    If it is not just busy work, having a lot can be helpful. One of the best ways to deal with high workload is to form a study group. For example, one of my professors (many years ago) assigned every other question in the book. We had a study group of 3 and decided to work out every question. Your job situation needs to be considered, though. A study group may not be practical for you. In that case, you may want a professor who grades more on class participation and tests. I would avoid professors that give a lot of busy work. To me, that indicates a professor who can't think of any good questions, who is insecure in the subject, or who is disconnected from reality and doesn't realize that students have other things to do too.

    John
     
  6. Mark44

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2007
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    A good math instructor should strike a balance between practical application problems and theory. Too much of either one is probably a bad thing. The applied problems are good because they show how the mathematics can be useful in engineering. The theory is good, too, because it is the foundation that underlies all of the different applications.
     
  7. TanTJ

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 6, 2008
    21
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    This is exactly what I have been finding about a particular professor. Many of the students input reflected badly upon the professor based purely on how hard the class was, but a few also mentioned that he was a good professor to take if you're going into an engineering field.

    After all the advice I've been given here I think this is the professor I'll try to take in a couple of semesters when I have a little bit of a lighter load in my other classes. That way I can focus more on the math class and hopefully get quite a bit out of it. Thank you again for your input John, you've been a great help.


    Mark44,

    I was so spoiled with my Calc I professor because he struck a very good balance between the two. Unfortunately, he doesn't teach any higher level classes but he did give me a solid foundation to build upon and that has made starting higher level classes so much easier.
     
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