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I think there is a huge misconception regarding professor Illes. She is a much, much better professor than the reviews on here make her out to be. In my opinion, it seems that most of the negative reviews about her are coming from individuals in Geography 5, or other lower division GE courses. And I believe it is because many of these students are either straight from high school or early on in their college careers, therefore, in my opinion, they may not be used to the teaching style of a college professor like Illes. She doesn't hold your hand every step of the way, she doesn't accept late assignments or lame excuses, and she certainly does not give out A's. But that's the way it should be in college, especially at a place like UCLA.
Illes is a great professor. She truly cares about what she is teaching, which makes the class so much more interesting and entertaining. And yes, she can be sarcastic, but those who get offended by it are taking it way too seriously. I personally like her sarcasm and wit because it keeps the class interesting. She does it to keep your attention and it works.
Also, she is really fun to talk to outside of class, especially during her office hours. She will sit and talk to you for as long as you want, and she gets so engaged in the conversation, it's just great. I've never felt more comfortable talking to a professor.
I've taken 5 classes with Illes. I have no complaints about a single one. She is an incredibly versatile professor as well. You can take a GIS class with her one quarter and a class on Wildlife Conservation the next. She is knowledgeable about so many different topics, both geography related and not. You can ask her a question about pretty much anything, and she'll have an answer.
All in all, I think all the negative reviews on here are very surprising, to me. I would not have taken 5 classes with Illes if I did not like her as a professor, and enjoy the way she teaches. She keeps class interesting, throws in a lot of anecdotal and personal stories, and you will honestly learn something of value, in my opinion. Great classes, great professor.
Professor Illes is a great teacher and very knowledgeable of California. I loved her class as it provided me a deeper insight to the state we live in. Her class grading is based on a midterm (in calss), long essay (you have to visit the place), and final. She is fair and fun. If you want to learn about California take her. Attendance is mandatory as the midterm and final are based on those notes you take. So you must be a good note taker to take her class.