For those of you that have been blindly picking courses based on what someone’s second cousin thought, I am about to make your academic life a whole lot easier. Just to be right up front, we are receiving no compensation of any kind from rate my professor, I just believe in the usefulness of it that much! The basic idea behind the site is that students can rate a professor in 3 different academic categories: Clarity, Helpfulness, and Easiness. There is also an overall rank, and just for kicks, a “hotness” ranking (humorously symbolized by a jalapeño pepper). There is also a place to state any comments about the course or professor. I’m not sure about every school, but I think the vast majority of post-secondary institutions conduct course/professor reviews at the end of each course. We used to joke that they used these to start the boilers because there seemed to be no correlation between tenure being granted, and who was actually a decent teacher. Rate My Professor remedies this situation by giving students a public forum to tell each other what the course was really like.
Strength In Numbers
As long as a prof has 5 or more reviews I have always found the rankings to be extremely accurate. I’ve made a point of mentioning the site to my friends, and I have never heard a single person complain about being misled. The only caveat I would add is that obviously if a professor only has a couple reviews, it may be too small a sample size to go on unconditionally. You always have to account for a couple of outlier students who just received a bad grade because they were bad students and now want to blame the world for it. Many of the comments are where you can gain especially valuable insight into a course or specific professor. A comment such as, “Extremely dedicated to providing after hours help,” or, “Very entertaining lecture style,” score huge points in my book. I personally would place more weight on the Clarity and Helpfulness rankings since I wasn’t usually intimidated by “hard” courses in the Faculty of Arts, but I do know people that actually got degrees and high GPAs simply by picking professors with extremely easy rankings. The system does work.
I Like Anything That Pisses Off “The Man”
It is ultimately because of this effectiveness that professors truly hate it! Naturally this just gives the forum even more credibility with me because I love anything that tweaks the nose of upper academia. Professors love control, and they love to believe that they are above being evaluated by lowly undergrads. By and large, most professors almost have to be a little eccentric to spend that much time in academia when you really think about it. Rate My Professor takes all that control out of their hands, and allows an anonymous and honest review of their skills, style, and competency. I think it is one of the only democratic venues in a system that is fairly authoritarian. Go ahead and Google “professor’s opinions of rate my prof” and scroll past the actual site. You’ll soon find all kinds of professors who are worried about what this is doing to their reputation and talking about how invalid the whole system is. A lot of words like “ludicrous” and “ridiculous” are used to describe the rankings. I only have one message for these professors who have had their tail feathers ruffled: Quit posting on internet forums and crying about what those nasty students said about you, and instead, get off your butt and learn about how to be a better teacher! I have given numerous professors very high marks even though their classes were difficult. Most students that actually care enough to go online and fill out a ranking are probably fairly trustworthy, and I guarantee they are more reliable than any measure that the university uses.
Rate My Professor Is A Good Tool If You Need A GPA Booster?
As a side note, I mentioned above that Rate My Professor is an easy way to boost your GPA by picking a lot of professors that are rank high in the “easiness” category. I don’t like this idea, and I feel that if you’re paying for an education you may as well learn as much as possible (I guess if someone else is paying for it, you should also learn as much as possible!). I do think it shows how arbitrary the whole idea of GPA is however. I’m not sure if a better system exists, but I think it’s too bad that someone who knows about RMP stands a much better chance of getting into a GPA-dependant faculty like Law. It really is that easy to game the system, I’ve seen it firsthand.
The Feedback That’s “Too Honest” For Some
Check out the site and tell us what you think. There are probably too many personal attacks on there (as there are on any public forum), but I think it is extremely effective at upgrading your student experience. Many of my friends that I have recommended it to now use it to pick the majority of their classes. I think there is even an argument to be made that it helps a “free-market-esque” system develop as far as attracting good professors to your university and rewarding them. If more students are constantly signing up for the highest ranked professors’ courses, this should send a fairly clear message to top university brass. Now if only they could read clear messages from rate my professor…