I LOVE Kate. I agree with what people said below. I don't think you'll find anyone at Columbia who thinks Kate is a bad teacher. I've heard so many stories about boring, senile lithum teachers, and about teachers who are just plain mean to their students. Kate is funny, amiable, approachable, and just chill. She is a little tough on papers, but if you go to her office hours, she really helps you out. We love Kate.
I actually agree with the engineers; Kate is great! I actually enjoyed writing papers for her because the topics were interesting and I felt that she put as much thought into grading the papers as I did writing them. She's friendly, funny, and chill...I know I sound like a dork, but I loved L&R.
Wow. I'm an engineer, and i never really enjoyed my english/writing classes, but Kate is an amazing teacher. I enjoyed our class discussions and the paper topics were actually interesting. The workload was difficult, but only because it is L&R. If you have a chance, switch into her class, as she is probably one of the best L&R teachers here.
If you have her, count your lucky stars. She is a great teacher. Hands down, this was my favorite class this semester, and this is coming from an engineer. Everyone in the class felt the same way. Despite it being at 9am, we had good discussions on the papers. And the paper topics were so so so much better than what every other L&R class had. Kate is just plain really nice, although she won't show it on grading. She grades very tough, don't expect to break a B+ on your papers until the final 2. But even despite that, this was a great class. It is a tesimant to the teacher. It's too bad next year she won't have as much flexibility in teaching it next year as they are changing it to Unversity Writing. But still, switch into her section if you can. L&R will actually be fun then.
Most people think that the only thing worse than L & R is having L & R at 9 AM. Imagine how grateful I was, then, when I figured out that Kate Olson is one of the rare L & R teachers who is not bent on making your life hell. She's a post-grad student who also attended Columbia as an undergrad and a grad student, so she too has suffered through L & R, which sometimes causes her to say some hilarious things about the institution. Yes, she grades strictly (no one got higher than a B on our first paper, and some people got Ds) but so does every other L & R teacher. She never really taught hard-core grammar as much as other teachers do, and and she chose to focus on articles to explain the topics like Thesis/Antithesis and Division/Classification rather than flail about trying to explain what they meant. She's always helpful during office hours, and she's very funny. The short essay topics are usually not as bad as some L & R classics like "Write about a world without paper clips," and you can do unlimited rewrites, which means that if you really want to, you can ensure your papers average out to an A. But that's kinda silly, given the huge grade inflation in L & R....