The Parthenon

Students should take Rate my Professor with a grain of salt

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We trust these anonymous reviews to guide us through our selection process, but what do we really know about the people who review professors and frequent the site?

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We’ve all been there: scheduling for a new semester and skimming Rate my Professor for the best class or instructor to take. We trust these anonymous reviews to guide us through our selection process, but what do we really know about the people who review professors and frequent the site?

There are generally two reactions from the reviewers: people are either extremely happy about the class, or they absolutely hated the professor’s guts and warn to never take the course. There is usually no medium between the two.

As a student journalist, however, I have always wondered about the credibility of these sources. Are they being completely honest in their comments, or are they just trying to get revenge for receiving a bad grade? More importantly, what kind of student are they? Do they tend to give all professors bad reviews, or is this the first time they’ve ever ranted on the site? This tidbit of information would definitely take their accountability to a new level. If the site would ask users to create a profile so you could track their reviews and see their typical grades, it would improve their content greatly.

The total anonymity makes students more prone to exaggerate situations, as they are braver behind a computer screen than they would be in real life. Because there is no way of knowing who posted what, it’s a battlefield to say whatever you want, good or bad. You hated your bio professor for his inability to explain things on an easier level? Thought your sociology instructor was the hottest one at Marshall? You can’t figure out how the geography department can keep their jobs? This is your prime opportunity to badmouth whoever you want with no repercussions.

A positive is posters now have the option to include three tags from a list of twenty to put on their review. These aforementioned tags are generated by the website and show at the top of the page what professors typically get from their students. They range from “assignments galore,” “inspirational,” “respected by students,” “get ready to read,” and “pop quiz master.”

I’ve used the site a time or two to get a feel for how an instructor conducts the class, but I haven’t used it as a tool to dictate what my schedule will be the next semester. I don’t think Rate my Professor is reliable enough to be used in that way. If I could see what users have posted about other classes, I may refer to it more often, but not in its current state.

When scheduling for courses, students should keep in mind that Rate my Professor can be a good tool to use, but they shouldn’t take it too seriously. Just because someone else did poorly in the class doesn’t mean you will too.

Bri Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]

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