As the semester reaches its halfway point, it comes time for all students to start
thinking about constructing his or her fall schedule. Starting on March 23, a handful
of students kick off the process by claiming the first seats for the fall semester. While
some might be going to their adviser for help in the process, others might seek the
advice from a popular resource on the web called Rate My Professors.
At this Web site, students have the opportunity to switch roles with their
professors as they grade them on their teaching performance.
The evaluation process is simple:
After the student finds his college or university, he can pick out professors
through an alphabetized list or by way of their departments. When a professor is
selected, the students can either leave a comment of his own or just read what others
These reviews usually go one of two ways: They can become
recommendation letters from a student that wants to promote a great professor. On the
other hand these reviews can also take shape as a red flag, warning all other students
about a professor to stay away from.
While the comments are sometimes all that are
necessary in the review, there are other ways to document your opinions.
For the student who needs a quick evaluation without reading through pages of
comments, there’s a numeric grading scale comprised of two important factors. One
category represents the professor’s teaching quality, while the other deals with the level
of difficulty or lack of. Both categories are based on a scale from zero
to five, with five being the goal. Racking up a five in both categories is no easy feat and
the professor who achieves such a goal must be doing something right.
A third column just shows the number of people who leave a comment for a professor. A
lot of comments doesn’t always mean they’re all good, so don’t be misled by numbers in
But perhaps the most useless, yet comical tool on this Web site, is the
“hotness” evaluation. Yes, there is a category where students can anonymously admit if they find their
professors attractive. This scale however, is not numeric like the others, but is indicated
by placing a pepper next to the name of a professor deemed attractive by a student.
While the pepper reminds us that this sight is not entirely serious, Rate My Professor can
still be a valuable tool for the average college student. The question becomes: How much
of an effect does this Web site have on college students as well as the professors they are
Some students use this site religiously when it comes time to
selecting their classes, while other students find the Web site useless. One anonymous
student said, “I have the site open along with my STINF account when I’m picking out
my classes.” While this student’s dedication to the site is very clear, others seem to
fall somewhere in the middle. Students like Jessie Lilley, a nursing major, have limited
options when it comes to course selection. Lilley said the site gives her a some input.
“The site is a cool way for me to take some control back, because I feel like I have none when it comes to the classes I know I need to take,” Lilley said.
For students like Lilley, Rate My Professor provides a little freedom in the regimented world of class selection, or for majors that are very specifically mapped out.
Most students, regardless of whether they use the site, seem to have little problem with its existance, but professors’ opinions seem split.
Bloomsburg professor Dr. Richard Ganahl of the Mass Communications Department said the site “isn’t 100 percent accurate, but I think it has
some truth to it.”
Ganahl admitted that he has seen his page on the Web site and after
reading some of the comments, he changed some things about the way he taught his
classes. In this aspect, the site can be viewed as a multifaceted tool for students and
teachers alike. Not only is the site a way for students to evaluate their
professors, it can also provide information to professors who might use it to adapt their teaching methods.
But not all professors see it that way. This dispute is very clearly represented in video backlash online called Professors Strike Back. In these videos, professors have a chance to defend themselves or speak out about certain comments that were made about them on Rate My Professor.
Overall, it’s pretty clear that Rate My Professor has
made quite an impact on college life for both students and professors.
photo courtesy of ratemyprofessors.com