Call me crazy, but I've decided I need to know exactly what the classes I'm enrolling in entail before my family pays for me to take them. Unfortunately, these short summaries provided by websites and counselors, and even the dozens of angry former-students on websites like Rate My Professor, are unable to portray accurate representations of how some of my classes run.
For example; I was deathly afraid of my Social Psychology course this semester. Though the student reception of the professor online was positive, the class was framed as a notably difficult and work-heavy course. It turns out, the professor is very intelligent and easy to work with, and she provides fantastic studying materials, making what could be a difficult class, much easier.
For another example; I thought my Political Methods class was going to be based in studying how the American people and the things that affect them would correlate. My professor's description of the class didn't include the $100 textbook bundle and CD we would have to purchase to be able to access the data necessary to complete any and all of the homework. On top of that, the data on the CD isn't retrievable or viewable without a data organization and mapping software only available on a handful of computers on campus. And no, I'm not spending anymore money purchasing the software for my personal computer.
Oh, and I should mention: days after much of the class, including myself, bought their books and ripped the seal off of the CD packaging, our professor put all of the data on Blackboard, making the CD many of us had bought - essentially - a waste. I understand his posting of the data was important for those who had rented the books and didn't get a CD behind the front cover without their knowledge, but this happenstance should have been predicted ahead of time, and would have been if the professor had looked up some Amazon reviews. Some students get a cheaper ride for a potentially grade-wrecking screw up while others pay full price for doing what they were supposed to do.
Let me clarify, I have some great professors this semester. My journalism professors, though varied in style and temperament, have always been helpful and supportive. My psychology professor is easy to listen to and a fantastic teacher. She explains, what are often complicated ideas, in ways even a journalism major can understand. Even the professor of this online "information fluency" class, as flawed as the class is, always checks in on us, sending daily emails to keep us on track. She's observant of the trends in our class and grades and never leaves us hanging.
It's just classes like Political Methods, where I walked into something I was completely oblivious to with a teacher who seemingly couldn't care less about being a teacher, that really kill me. I didn't hear a word about how this class was going to be, and he's too loud in his own ears to notice our frustration.
From now on, unless the class only has one section, I'll be asking everyone I know about every available professor and class to guarantee a better learning experience. Maybe it's my fault for not doing this earlier, but I didn't think I would have to worry about these kind of experiences by the end of my second year.