Face Off: Website rating profs is unreliable

headshot_WEBAt the end of each semester, students fill out evaluations describing how professors could have approached teaching differently or praising them for their wonderful work. Some of these comments find their way onto RateMyProfessors.com, a collection of student evaluations. The website includes ratings on how helpful or easy a professor is, the average grade of the raters, how hot the professor is, and comments about his or her classes.

The most helpful thing about this website is whether or not a textbook is used in class. Sometimes a professor will “recommend” having a textbook, but then not require any reading from it all semester. If a book’s content is not on the test, I don’t want to go out of my way to buy it, even if it is to better my own education. I’m broke; I can’t afford books I don’t need.

The other reliable thing about the website is the structure of class. Some students will tell how many tests there are, what the lectures are like, etc.

But it seems most professors who are “tough” are the ones rated by below-average students. Most of the students who complain about the class are the ones who are not doing well and probably thought college was supposed to be a breeze. Unfortunately, I do not trust my peers’ opinions. Sometimes, I take a class with a “hard” professor, and I wind up enjoying the class and even the professor.

I also have a problem with the clarity rating. Just because something isn’t clear to you, doesn’t mean it won’t be clear to me. Also, if something was unclear to the student, why didn’t he or she ask the professor or see a tutor in the Student Success Center to make things clearer? Maybe the professor’s methods of teaching aren’t working for you, but that doesn’t mean the professor has to change a class. Maybe you’re the one that needs a different approach.

Lastly, why is there even a chili pepper rating to indicate how hot a professor is? Who takes classes based on this? I feel this is unnecessary information. A professor’s appearance doesn’t dictate how the class will be run or a teaching style, so they should just get rid of the creepy pepper.

Rate my professor has potential. But it’s not reliable, especially for good students. Considering the types of students who leave negative responses, you should never shy away from a class just because the professor has a bad rating or no chili pepper.

If you really want to know what a professor is like, maybe you can try meeting him or her. Granted, professors probably won’t tell you they are  “tough graders,” but you can usually get the sense of what they will be looking for.

RateMyProfessors.com is an unreliable website overall. I have repeatedly found I cannot trust my whiny peers on how a professor teaches.

—Rena Carman

Junior communication studies major


Printed in the 4/27/16 issue.

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