Are professor rating sites a guide to a successful semester?

Starting new classes is like going on a blind date. You show up not knowing what to expect. During the date, you are introduced to someone you’ve never met before and you get to know each other, with hopes that everything goes well. Wouldn’t it be amazing to get reviews on that person beforehand?

The start of a new semester entails the same feelings when meeting new classmates and professors. Everyone has opinions when it comes to professors, and even though there may not be a way to get reviews before a blind date, there are sites that provide this service for students anxious to meet those who will be lecturing them for 13 weeks.

“Rate My Professor” is a popular site when it comes to getting the scoop on teachers. According to an article by John McClain on makeuseof.com, “Rate My Professor is one of the most popular ‘rate my teacher’ websites. The site boasts more than 10 million opinions of over 1 million professors from students like you. The ratings cover more than 6,000 schools across the United States, Canada, England, Scotland and Wales.”

While selecting classes for the spring semester, this website, along with others such as Uloop and Rate My Teachers, may come in handy when deciding on a course load. Although these sites may be helpful, I don’t recommend letting them determine whether or not certain professors should be given a chance.

When you date a new person, your friends sometimes fill your head with negative information about them if they don’t like them. Ultimately, it is your choice to date the person to see what they are about yourself, or to listen to your friends’ judgements instead. It is the same way with choosing a professor. What may be harsh to some may be bearable to others. Taking the easy way out is sometimes more convenient, but where is the fun in that if you don’t prove to yourself that the hard work is worth it? Just because a professor may not be likeable to some doesn’t mean you won’t love him or her.

Sites such as Rate My Professor aren’t reliable because a lot of students give their opinions on things aside from the ideal purpose. They may rate a professor based on their personality or the way that they look or dress, instead of rating them on performance as an educator. According to an article on study.com, “Some students post ratings or comments that are irrelevant to a professor’s teaching ability, such as critiques of his or her physical appearance.” The article goes on to say that, “teaching effectiveness is multifaceted, and rating it should be based on richer measures, such as how well students master what they learn in the professor’s class, how well-prepared the professor is, or how rigorous and relevant the professor’s courses are.”

During this month’s course selection period, remember that sometimes a challenge isn’t bad. Take chances, and focus on the courses that you need. Try not to focus too much on trying to avoid the professor that others say isn’t worth taking.

—Sierra McCoy

Junior communication studies major 

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