At the end of a semester, usually in exchange for extra credit, many students will review their class experiences in surveys that either get sent back to the teacher or to the department. Unfortunately, no one really knows how effective these surveys are or whether they lead to departmental changes.
Because these reviews typically only lead to minimal changes, a few students take their voices to RateMyProfessor.com, a website for college students to rate their teachers on factors like class difficulty and overall quality.
The site is structured like a Yelp for teachers. At the top of every teacher’s page it displays the average scores a teacher was given through the student reviews. Besides the level of difficulty and overall quality, students write in the grade and credit they received, whether they would take the class again and some tags to sum up their class experience.
Just like Yelp, RateMyProfessor can be equally unreliable. The people who use these rating forums tend to be more, oh, I don’t know, radical? Sadly, many moderates do not often put in the time to rate restaurants, classes and teachers.
The result of this semi-democracy are reviews that are usually too high or too low, leaving many people in a Goldilocks—like situation.
On the other hand, if a teacher happens to tick off or impress enough students, it definitely shows in the reviews. When it comes to teachers with numerous reviews in different classes, RMP can be more reliable. It’s a safe bet to stray away from teachers bringing in abundant 1 star reviews, and it could help to add highly praised professors into your shopping cart.
RMP also allows students to rate their schools. However, these reviews are unquestionably more skewed. While it warms my heart to see 5-star reviews for UNC, it loses most of its credibility whenever I see glowing reviews of Duke university. No one in their right mind would ever give Duke a 5 in “Happiness.”
In summation, RMP can be pretty hit or miss. Some students completely abstain from it and place their own judgements on teachers. Externalities aside, if your teacher has only a handful of bad reviews, it’s usually just the consequence of a few scorned students.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.