Rate My Professors

As university students, we’re all familiar with ratemyproessors.com. It’s a website/search engine that allows you to search your school, find a professor, and get an opinion on the professor you’re curious about. The website offers up to 10 million opinions on 1 million professors at over 6,000 schools.

I first heard about ratemyprofessor when I moved to Chicago last August. I was signing up for classes and was new to Loyola. I was seeking some feedback on which professors to take for which classes. I quickly learned that ratemyprofessor was necessary (at least to the students I was interacting with) when signing up for a course. It seemed like an almost unwritten rule of the registration process. As I read various reviews, I started to see why the site held value. In a mater of a couple comments, you could become familiar with a professor’s teaching and grading methods, and even if they were good looking or not. ( If theres a tamale next to a professors name, you can assume this is a hot professor). As I familiarized myself with the site, I actually started to resent it. To me, it was so mindless to base my judgments on whether or not I should take a class based on the subjective comments I read of someone else. There really was no censor to the opinions left either. Comments I noticed more than others included: “NEVER TAKE HER” and “He’s a pushover, Easy A…”. However, there was also some productive feedback on the site that gave just a brief synopsis of the teacher’s methods, but these were noticeably more seldom.

What I got from the site is you can find how to get through school by knowing which teachers will grade easier ahead of time by reading these opinions. Is this not doing a disservice to yourself? Is it so bad that you might be challenged in college? Isn’t the reason you’re in college to learn? And if that’s not the case for you, that was the case for a number of the professors that are being publicly talked about right on the site. I find it degrading to a professor’s field and profession to sit and speak negatively about him or her online where they can see it. I’m not saying there are some instances where I felt a professor could use constructive criticism, but that’s why we have evaluations at the end of each semester. In the case that you had a rusty teacher, why do you wish to prevent them an empty classroom in their next upcoming semester? Don’t you think this could affect them more than keeping a comment to yourself would affect you?

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2 thoughts on “Rate My Professors

  1. Well, as a professor with some mixed reviews on ratemyprofessor.com, I have some thoughts on the topic… I am split on the issue. I don’t like the site, as I have found that there are some comments on there about me that are unfair and I don’t like the fact that students who are unhappy about their grade can anonymously butcher me online. But that is my bruised ego talking, let’s move the analysis to the next level….

    This is the Internet age, and am I any different from a restaurant holder, hairdresser, psychologists, pet groomers, massage therapists etc. who all may have their performance rated online? And somebody did write that I am “an absolutely adorable Belgian,” so it isn’t all bad. I tend to think that the professor student relationship is different and complex and may not be best served by sites like these, but I cannot make that determination for students. However, I would hate to be a student at a school where professors try to get good ratings on ratemyprofessor.com. And fortunately, Loyola is not such a school.

    I have come to accept rate my professors and check it a couple of times a year and don’t pay too much attention to it otherwise. When this site first came around it created some nervousness among instructors, but I think that we have accepted it as a reality of professional life. The site’s popularity also seems to be dwindling…

    The student reviews I get from the class at the end of the semester are much more insightful to me, and I think that Loyola should make those available to students. I have taught over 400 students at Loyola, and 19 commented on rate my professor, and I actually suspect that one student put up multiple posts. I don’t think that it would be wise to determine which class one takes based on some anonymous reviews.

    As professors, I think we have to toughen up and accept that these site are out there. “If everyone likes you, you are not doing your job,” I was told by my mentor in grad school, and that is probably true. I have to admit though, that when I was job searching, I had some posts on rate my professor removed because they were false and defamatory and I thought they might hurt my chances in the job market if a search committee member would read them. I flagged them and wrote: “I can prove this statement is false and defamatory, this is libel.” That did the trick.

    On a final note, in a strange way, rate my professor rewards bad professors if what Kate write is correct.
    Professors love classes with low enrollment, grading 15 midterms is preferable over grading 32…

  2. I never thought about ratemyprofessor that way really. Sometimes it crossed my mind, “Are these posts really accurate,” and also how many of them are different students and not just one. Now that I think back, a string of comments back and forth between two people that I read on the site kind of deterred me from using it to make a legit decision. It was between two people pretty much fighting about whose opinion of a professor was right. I see this as a bit demeaning towards the professor and it does seem like libel on some accounts when students are so subjective in respect to their individual experiences. I feel like it has become a necessary tool in many student’s scheduling process and I feel that it needs to be toned down a bit. Everyone has their own experiences in school and who knows how your own experience will be. If you are looking for an awesome professor, you will most likely find out by word of mouth, with no need for the site if the professor is that good.

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