‘Rate My Professor’ may not be as reliable as thought

‘Rate My Professor’ may not be as reliable as thought

As students add classes to their schedules, it’s nice to know who is worth the 5o minutes of class time and who isn’t.

After coming across a selection of names, some students then log on to “Rate My Professor” online to get the dish on how each professor lectures, gives homework, conducts tests, etc. From that point, students pick the “lesser of the evils” and sign up for that professor’s section. While many swear by this process every semester, is it truly that reliable?

Students usually notice the positives first. The site can be organized by university and then by department. Once a department is chosen, a list of professors can be looked over based on a rating from zero to five. Clicking on a professor brings up a basic profile of him or her and what he or she teaches. Below that are reviews where students can leave a comment how they liked or disliked about certain classes and details about it. From there, students start evaluating to find the best teacher for class.

This is good to look over for a couple reasons. Does the student have an already busy schedule? If so, the student would probably choose the professor who gives out less homework. Does the student not have great study skills and can’t handle a lot of tests? Again, the student will pick one that doesn’t give out a lot of tests. The site gives many angles at which to perceive the professor from.

Reviews might even note the temperament of the professor. If the student is timid, he or she may not want a professor who is over-the-top and in the students’ faces. Then again, if a student is passionate about a subject, he or she would want a professor who is just as or is more passionate about the same subject.

However, there are some negatives. If a professor and student had a disagreement (whether rational or irrational, whoever is at fault), the student could then put a bad review just because he or she didn’t like them personally, not based on the professor’s class information. Such reviews could misdirect a student from a professor that might be the most perfect for that student.

Also, professors evolve over time. A professor that might’ve received negative reviews his or her first year teaching might develop into a great professor but because of bad reviews that aren’t updated, students could miss out on a great class.

Whether the site has more bad or good, students will continue to use “Rate My Professor” to help decide which professors to take. Overall, it’s a good basis point, but should not be the primary way to decide which professor to choose. There is always more than meets the eye–or reviews.

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