When it comes time to pick your college classes, RateMyProfessors has become a famous name on college campuses as students frantically look up professors, reading reviews and checking ratings. RateMyProfessors.com has become a quick way to find out what to expect from a professor you have never heard of before.
But is the information accurate? Is RateMyProfessors.com a reliable way to evaluate a professor beforehand?
From my experiences? Yes, but you need to know what to look for.
What to look at on a professor’s profile:
Take a look at the summary of scores. Pay special attention to easiness and helpfulness. These two are the most important. Consider how relevant both of them are. If you”re taking advanced biology, of course, the professor isn’t going to be easy. If you’re taking a giant lecture, helpfulness won’t be nearly as important as in a small seminar course. Granted, higher numbers are still better than lower numbers.
Pay attention to how many people have rated the professor. If only a small handful have, you should definitely give less weight to these numbers, but if you see that thirty or forty students have rated the professor, that gives a lot more truth to these ratings.
How to interpret the reviews
The reviews at the bottom of the profile are incredibly helpful, but you need to know how to properly read them? Look for specific comments. Comments that say this professor gave a lot of homework that was hard to complete are a lot more useful than this class was hard. Why? Students liked or disliked the professor rather than just what they felt.
Don’t worry too much about outlying opinions, and try to find a general trend amongst comments. No matter how good a professor is, there’s always going to be one disgruntled student upset about something (and that something might be the student’s fault). Of course, this goes the other way as well: if most opinions are negative, then a single positive opinion shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Pay attention to what class they had the professor for. An intro-level course and a graduate class are completely different. Pay more attention to reviews written for the class you’re about to take. Check yourself at: http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/