Because the sciences have become so popular in recent years, many of the larger universities have several professors teaching organic chemistry, which means in financial terms, this is a buyer’s market. You have choices on whose class you take and whose class you avoid. Of course the best way to learn who is good, who is bad, and who is ugly is to ask the boys and girls who have already taken the class. In lieu of that, here are a couple of tell-tale signs that you are about to enter the realm of “Professor Flunks-alot”:
1) On the first day, the professor brags about how many students fail/drop the class.
2) The professor is anti-medical school. (Organic chemistry is a big med school prep subject)
3) The professor does not have a degree in organic chemistry; some schools, due to staffing needs, will run someone out there with a degree in another field of chemistry, or worse—a biology degree.
4) The professor is not receptive to student questions in office hours.
5) The professor does not incorporate examples of more recent organic chemistry into the lectures. This is a tricky one. It might show that the instructor is a little out of touch, or doesn’t care enough to find more interesting examples to present.
6) The professor focuses a lot on physical organic chemistry (orbitals and such). First, this is not the main part of organic chemistry, which rotates around the synthesis of new molecules. Second, it is very boring.
If you determine that you have a bad professor, the first thing to decide is if there is a better one out there, preferably teaching the course this semester. If it is easy, and you feel comfortable, switch to the other class. If you consider yourself a masochist, tough guy, or just can’t switch, then sit back and make the best of it.
If you really need to get out and can spend a little extra money, many universities will accept a junior college transfer credit. Call the registrar’s office at your school, ask if they will accept organic chemistry from the local community college and take it there. More often than not, the community college will offer a simpler version of the course, which you can take back with you to avoid the whole mess of a jerk professor.