Some university courses can be absolutely unbearable. The terrible thing is you usually won’t know how bad a course is until you are at least a few weeks in. At this point it’s too late to even drop the course. You’re stuck with it, for better or worse. Sometimes you can manage to stick it out and even end up getting a decent mark. This is the exception, rather than the rule. Usually, you will end up completely uninterested and your final grade will reflect this. Lucky for you there are a few ways to tell whether a class will be good or bad, by the end of the first session.
Check out your professor on www.ratemyprofessors.com. This website is an excellent resource for getting a quick snapshot of what your professor will be like. It provides an average score for professors based on student reviews. Anyone who scores a 4 or higher is usually a safe bet. Be sure to read the reviews to get a good feel for what the professor is like. The comments usually provide extra insight into why other students felt good or bad about a professor. If your prospective instructor scores less than a 3, drop that course as fast as possible.
Check with friends who have already taken the course. They can give you a good idea about how tough it will be and whether the material covered will interest you. Also, your friends’ description of a course is worth much more than whatever the school writes as the course description. This author once took an archaeology course expecting to learn all about digging up lost treasures like Indiana Jones. The course description seemed to support this idea. Unfortunately, this course was more about human evolution than actually finding a Lost Ark or a Holy Grail. This is something that would have been obvious if they had asked their friends about it beforehand.
Read the course syllabus. As soon as you have access to a course syllabus read through it in detail. Usually, your professor will email a syllabus to you or post it online before the first class even begins. This gives you plenty of time to review it and decide if you still want to take the class. Pay attention to how much you will be expected to read every week and how the marks are broken down. Check whether the class is based mainly on assignments, essays, or test marks. If you aren’t good at writing essays and you take a course where your final grade is based on a term paper mark, it’s in your best interest to drop that course.
Borrow any textbooks required for the course from the library and skim them. The syllabus will usually have the required textbook listed on it. Your school’s library will often have course textbooks available as reference materials. Do yourself a favor and borrow a copy. Take it home and skim through it. Try reading a chapter. If the material isn’t putting you to sleep then you should be good. You can get through most courses by simply staying up to date on the textbook readings. As long as you can manage to read the textbook you won’t even need to attend lectures in order to pass.
If you take all of these precautionary measures and the course still seems interesting then you should feel confident in enrolling in it. As long as the subject matter of the course interests you everything else will fall into place. It’s much easier to study for a class that interests you than it is to study for one that makes you question whether dying of boredom is actually possible.