• Professors

The Best and Worst Professors at Florida State University


Florida State University, a public research school that’s located in Tallahassee, hosts a staggering undergraduate headcount approximately 32,600 were reported in 2015! However, it’s not much of a surprise why students come from a variety of countries and all 50 states to attend. The high ranking institution operates under space and sea grants, making it a vital player in the field of science. Of course there are 16 other colleges with more than 129 majors to declare if you don’t fancy yourself the next great physicist (we think teachers, nurses and entrepreneurs are just as cool).

As for the faculty, they are nothing short of stellar on paper, featuring a Nobel Laureate, a Grammy winner, over 30 Fulbright Scholars plus many more notable figures. Don’t get too excited, though. Like any school that we investigate, there are still those professors who you might be better of skipping. Read on to discover the crème de la crème, and the crème de la drop.

There’s a kind of ubiquitous love for Joseph Calhoun, an economics professor. The subject itself is one that can be heavy on the numbers and definitions, but he goes out of his way to make lectures engaging by supplementing the material with quirky videos. He also appears to be a firm believer in redemption, because he offers plenty of extra credit to those looking for a grade boost. Despite teaching a large quantity of students, he’s accessibly and very helpful during office hours. Did you miss a class? They’re all recorded and posted online.

Trust us: there’s no need to do the math on Martha Blackwelder. This master mathematician has a very clear teaching style that never leaves students scratching their heads in unison. Scoring an A+ is as simple as turning in all your quizzes and not skipping the lectures. Whether it’s through help sessions or extended office hours for individualized attention, she gives you every opportunity to succeed. If you’re less than stellar with a calculator and feeling a bit nervous about college level math, don’t hesitate to enroll.

Do you want to know the formula for success? Beloved chemistry professor Mark Kearly has boiled it down to a science. What’s historically a frustrating subject for some is made enjoyable by his comedic and thorough approach to teaching. He’s the type of man who will give you a generous curve if he can tell you’re really trying your best. Like Florida State University’s other top academics, Kearly is easy to get ahold of during office hours. His tests are known to be hard, but they’ll help you retain the information in the long run.

There’s no denying that geology professor Leroy Odom is intelligent. In fact, that’s a point that his students whether they’re fans or not don’t refute. However, he has made a habit out of talking very low and pacing about. Quite simply put, he’s hard to hear no matter where you’re sitting in the classroom. If you do manage to make out his lectures, you’ll probably find them to be vague (this is probably due to the fact that he doesn’t tend to teach from a textbook). Presentation really does matter.

Katherine Burgess isn’t exactly inspiring future novelists in her English classes by writing rude, condescending remarks on papers just for the sake of it. Yes, she’s a ruthlessly hard grader with a penchant for assigning depressing works. Artsy types tend to be introverts, but that’s not getting you a pass here. Your grade heavily depends on how much you talk, lending a sense of anxiety to her classes for some. Basically, everything from her off putting approach to the vague grading creates one big bummer.

Biology is an important class in a school that’s so revered for its science programs. Lisa Lyons doesn’t uphold the legacy very well with her lectures that jump around way too much (cue mass confusion via PowerPoint). Speaking of those PowerPoints, she tends to just read off of them and count on you already knowing the information. You also might be scolded if you ask a question in class. Not even knowing the answer will save you from her challenging exams.

Now that you know which professors to seek out and which to skip, why not learn about the food on campus at FSU before applying? Go on, live and learn a little!

Ryan James is a ’13 alumnus of Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in writing and media. He currently works as a copywriter for a Fortune 500 e-commerce corporation based in Columbus, OH.


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