Beginning as a student who used to sit in the back corner and refrained from participating in class, Michael Rapp has since become a celebrated lecturer at San Diego State.
According to Rapp, a former student once described his lectures as a therapy session; and after 10 years of teaching, he still asks students to call him by his first name.
When enrolling in one of the various courses taught by Rapp, his prevailing first-day ritual is to communicate to students the importance of a relaxed environment in the classroom.
“You have to get creative,” Rapp said. “It took me a while to create a comfortable and relaxed environment for students. I want my classroom to be a place where students want to go and learn.”
When it comes to first impressions, Rapp is not afraid to laugh at himself or retaliate to jokes made in class about him or subjects being discussed.
“His laugh is the funniest thing in the world,” former student and communications alumna Cristina Garcia said.
Being a former student at SDSU has made this lecturer a more knowledgeable and experienced communications professor because of the important life lessons that his lectures discuss. According to Rapp, having gone through what students are now experiencing is a key factor to his success as a lecturer.
“I am not any smarter or any better than my students,” Rapp said. “But I am older and have a little bit more experience and have been studying communication for longer.”
Yet, even with a few more years of experience compared to his students, Rapp still said he has learned the most through his students’ life experiences.
“Studying communication is mostly about how you deal with life,” Rapp said. “Ten percent in life is what happens to you and 90 percent is how you deal with it.”
Rapp said the best way to teach college students is through his personal experience and mistakes he made as a former student.
“He gets students and college life … at least most of the time,” Garcia said.
As to what Rapp’s proudest moments are, he said that it is not the paycheck, but instead the invisible lightbulb he sees every once in a while, when a student understands what he is teaching.