|I use RateMyProfessors.com obsessively. I came into Binghamton University as a freshman with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. As an undeclared major, I knew that my first year would be spent getting my general education requirements out of the way and taking classes to explore my interests. I discovered RateMyProfessors.com before signing up for classes and have used it as a crutch ever since. It was seemingly foolproof during the fall semester of my freshman year and I spent hours carefully choosing classes based on the general education requirement they satisfied, if it sounded interesting and, most importantly, what score the professor received online. If the professor did not get good reviews, I wasn’t interested. With so many options to choose from, I eventually crafted my “perfect” schedule, every professor with excellent ratings, confident that I had worked my way through scheduling classes successfully. I was lucky. Every professor matched exactly to what I read on the website. “Easy A?” Absolutely. “Attendance matters?” Sure does. “Wonderful person?” Without a doubt. I may have been lucky my first semester of college with the help of RateMyProfessors.com, but students should be wary of just how much they rely on this website. As I myself am still learning, it is a tool to help you, not a foolproof system.
RateMyProfessors.com lets students write anonymous reviews for their professors based on several criteria, including a numerical score ranging from one to five, level of difficulty also ranging from one to five, whether or not they would take the class again and short tags that best describe the professor and their class, such as “lecture heavy,” “caring” and “participation matters.” These reviews can be extremely helpful to gain insight as to how a professor teaches and what to expect in a class before deciding to commit to it.
Professors can significantly impact students and their overall performance in a class, which is why many students find themselves relying heavily on RateMyProfessors.com as well as on insight from fellow students who have taken the class. A 2010 study suggests that students who have a positive view of their professors and are able to form a relationship with them outside of the classroom often have a stronger desire to study, increased confidence in the material and may come to enjoy learning. While ratings on RateMyProfessors.com may help in describing the general impression students can have on a professor, every individual interacts with others in a way unique to them. Therefore, an individual may find that they get along well with a professor other students generally do not like. Personality ratings on RateMyProfessors.com should be taken into consideration; however, this should not be the deciding factor on whether or not the student should take the class.
A feature of RateMyProfessors.com that may be more helpful allows students to understand the teaching style of the professor. Regardless of whether or not someone liked the professor or the class, there are usually commonalities in reviews about what to expect in terms of teaching style, pop quizzes, if participation makes up a significant portion of the grade, how many tests there are and more. These are factors that would usually be included in the syllabus, so it is helpful to know this information ahead of time before signing up for the class. Some students know that they are not good test-takers or that they experience significant test anxiety that can impede their ability to perform well in the class, so RateMyProfessors.com may help them avoid signing up for a class that is test-heavy.
RateMyProfessors.com reviews should not always be the deciding factor on whether or not a student should sign up for a class. While it may be helpful to gain valuable insight as to what you may expect in a class, every individual has a unique perspective, and you may find yourself thoroughly enjoying a class that received mixed reviews from students. RateMyProfessors.com can be used to guide you in trying to make a schedule, but don’t let it deter you from a class you really want to take.
Sophia LoBiondo is a sophomore majoring in political science.
Can we depend on RateMyProfessors.com to help pick our classes?
The website can help design a better schedule — but not a perfect one