Maya Tolstoy

Jun 2021

I took EESC 2200 in Summer A (2021). It was a pretty quick time period since it was only half a semester, but Professor Tolstoy is AMAZING. She's so understanding and a great lecturer and the discussion sections we had were very interesting. One of the best professors I've had at Columbia. Highly recommend taking a course with her. Professor Malinverno is also very good at lecturing and teaching, a bit slow but with 1.5 speed it's fine. Very understanding and amazing professor. Both professors are very approachable and are not intimidating at all. They're both very kind and knowledgeable and seem to care about the class's understanding and progress in the course. 10/10 recommend

Dec 2020

I took this class my first semester at Barnard, which was in a virtual setting due to covid-19. Honestly, my professors were great. We began the semester with 2 discussion sections a week, but those were reduced to only one per week because the professors were very conscientious of their students' mental health. The lectures were recorded and had to be watched outside of class, but that was still manageable. Both Johnny and Maya are incredibly knowledgeable, and I'm proud to say this class made me a rock nerd! We had one lab per week, which usually took about 2-3 hours, and we were able to pick our lab groups. The labs were manageable and interesting, and our graduate TAs (Chris and Michelle) were the best! Overall, this class was probably my favorite of all the ones I took this semester, and I would recommend it to anyone, science major or not.

Jan 2011

A miserable experience. The professors simply read from the lecture slides and labs are a disaster. The TAs who run the lab are ill-prepared and it takes up an insane amount of time. The text (Earth: Portrait of a Planet) is helpful and dumbed down but tests are based on the lecture slides. It is important to STUDY THE LABS for the final, which mostly consists of the questions from three labs. If you attend class religiously and get the labs down, you *might* have a shot at doing well. Also, the field trip will be boring and useless--be prepared.

Dec 2009

This class is dry, boring, and poorly organized....seriously. Let's get real here, it takes a pretty stellar professor to make the study of rocks and plate tectonics interesting; however, don't come into this class expecting that. While both profs who teach the class are very sweet and seem to care very much about the students, the lectures are painful. The lecture format is about 50-80 slides a class with pictures and diagrams copied from the text book and bullet points taken directly out of the text. I suppose this is nice because it gives you the option since you can succeed either by reading the text or attending the lectures, both is completely unnecessary. However, the class size is small enough that by about the second week they know who each student is and who does/does not attend lecture. Problem set were more like mind puzzles to figure out the answer, once you got it you couldn't believe how simple the answer was. The mandatory lab which is associate with the class is HORRIBLE. Every week attendance is taken even though its all done on the computer, generally it's typing number into excel and making graphs or searching for the answers online using google. This wouldn't be all that bad except for the fact that the directions go in circles so what is expected is very unclear. Consequently, everyone in the entire lab gets a horrible grade, I think most of my labs were in the low 70s which is frustrating to see week after week when you're spending 6 hours on a dumb worksheet. The two TAs are PhD students at Lamont who are forced to TA an undergraduate class and while they were both very knowledgeable they oftentimes did not understand the lab directions themselves which was frustrating. Both were very helpful outside of class when they could meet one on one but in the circus which was commonly referred to as lab, you had to wait behind 5 other confused classmates to have one question answered. I usually signed into lab and left about 20 minutes in.