It’s that time of year again. Just when midterms are over and the thick of the semester lays off a bit, it’s time to start registering for the next one.
With so many classes and professors to choose from, it might be hard to know if you’re making the right decision. And with classes still going on, there is not a lot of time to go hunting for information. Many students, including myself, use the website Rate My Professors to decide which professors to take classes with. Rate My Professors tends to get a bad rap from professors, but the site that professors love to hate is probably more accurate than they think.
Founded almost 20 years ago, Rate My Professors has more than 19 million reviews for 1.7 million professors. The reviews are short, succinct and to the point and often answer the real questions that students have. How much reading does this professor assign? Is this professor strict on attendance? Are they friendly and helpful? Rate My Professors provides a direct line from other students who have taken these classes in order to access this information.
Some professors dislike Rate My Professor because they don’t believe the information is accurate, but a study conducted by the University of Maine found that Rate My Professors ratings have a significant correlation with the student evaluations when it came to questions about the overall quality of the course and the relative difficulty or ease of the course.
Any website designed to be a forum will have issues because people share their unfiltered opinions. And Rate My Professors does has plenty of unnecessary content – such as the chili pepper, which rates professors on hotness. With any system where you rate and give feedback, there are always going to be people who over exaggerate, or use the website as a way to get revenge. But most professors have multiple reviews over several years from multiple students, and the comments average out.
Overall, the benefits of having access to an abundance of information about potential professors outweigh this.
Once you become more established in your major, there’s much less of a need to use Rate My Professors because you can talk to your peers directly who have taken the courses you’re concerned about and get feedback. But for general education courses, or a cluster or minor that you haven’t dove into yet, making a choice can be tough.
Rate My Professors could be dead wrong about a class you take. Maybe a professor that students completely trash on the site will be extremely helpful to you. This is bound to happen to someone. Students learn in different ways, and they need different levels of participation and attention.
But I’m not sure I would survive registration season without Rate My Professors. It helps me choose my classes quickly, and with much less hesitation than before, often leading to a more successful semester.