Go West this summer and get ahead.

Decent or Dishonest? What you need to know about Rate My Professors

Rate My Professors, an open anonymous platform for students to rate their school and teachers by quality points, has remained the norm for universities. Despite its ongoing popularity, the website’s anonymous users and obscure quality scoring system makes students question its reliability.

Created in 1999, Rate My Professors’ initial intentions were to simplify the question students ponder each semester: “Is this professor or school a beneficial choice for me?” Unfortunately, due to the progression of the Internet and the website’s growing fame, students do not always use Rate My Professors for its essential purpose. Now, Professors either shine or suffer from the way they choose to run their classrooms. Depending on the students wants and needs from a professor determines how they will rate their performance. Oddly enough, Rate My Professors allows students to score things not even pertaining to education. Students can score the professors “level of hotness” and if they are “hilarious.” For a student simply searching for a class with quality content or an overall success rate, these factors can be distracting and pointless.

THE PROS

With an optimistic mindset, there are positive features on Rate My Professors that benefit students and professors.

  1. People are most likely telling the truth: There is no way of telling exactly what is factual on Rate My Professors; especially because the website relies solely on opinions. However, we can assume that the majority of users reporting their experiences are doing so to praise their teacher or warn other students not to take the class. For example, students will say if there are lots of pop quizzes or explain the quality of the professor’s lectures. “I wouldn’t necessarily call RMP the most reliable of sources, but it can be a helpful tool.” Grad Student and Professor Sarah Geil said.
  2. It’s an open platform for students to use: Students can express their opinions freely without the judgement of peers or the presence of a professor affecting their answers.
  3. Up-to-date: Another advantage of using Rate My Professors is its real-time questions and answers. So luckily for new professors, students can see their progression as a teacher. “I certainly have looked at my RMP profile. I find it interesting, but I try not to let it sway my feelings too much. That could be a very harming experience if the reviews are negative. Thankfully, for now, most of my content is positive and I use it to reinforce my decisions to assign certain activities.” Professor Geil said.

THE CONS

    1. People lie: Opposing the hopeful statement that people are speaking their opinions truthfully, there are people who lie. For example, a professor could be producing crucial content and teaching solely based on his lectures. If a student decides they would rather skip the classes, and ends up failing the class altogether, that is the students fault. However, when the student sees his poor effort reflect upon his final grade, he may blame his failing grade on the professor by bashing him on Rate My Professors.Professor Geil has seen this ongoing trend first hand on the website. “On Rate My Professors especially, sometimes the students who have had negative experiences are more likely to leave a comment. This might wrongly persuade other students not to take a class with a professor based on the one bad experience. At the same time, I think using tools wisely can be very helpful.”
    2. People will choose not to take a class based on the ambiguous tags: Students will stray away from classes that look daunting with number of exams, mandatory attendance, and the physical looks of the teacher. When in reality, the student could be very successful without knowing these factors.
    3. It is not always an honest representation of the school or teacher: Overall, with the website heavily relying on opinions, it is not always a good representation of a professor or school. If there is only one rating of a professor, it is difficult to determine whether or not a diverse group of students should trust one person’s views.“If an instructor who perhaps doesn’t have the greatest reviews on Rate My Professors is the only one who fits your schedule, try not to go into the class expecting to hate it. Realize you might have a different experience and that your part as a student is crucial to the equation. Don’t let Rate My Professors make you bitter; positive expectations are powerful.” Professor Geil said.
    4. People from other schools can rate too: Even if you do not attend the school you are rating, your scoring still matters. For high-rivalry schools like Georgia State and Georgia Southern, this feature could cause turmoil and act as a platform for slandering another school. The upside, however, according to the Rules of Conduct on Rate My Professors’ Terms and Conditions, is the website will detect racist, sexist, and all other types of derogatory phrases.
    5. Professors could rate themselves: Professors could write a review (or several) of themselves staging as a student to get a better reputation. If a professor has a low rating, they could improve it with just a click of a button.

THE VERDICT

Based on the amount of freedom and the anonymous factor of Rate My Professors, I do not believe it is a reliable source. While it does have its upsides, like the ability to commend superb professors, there is no way of telling if the content is true. Plus, with the additional meaningless quality points, it really decreases their credibility. Hopefully in the future Rate My Professors will return to its roots—only expressing content about education.

Be the first to comment

Join the Discussion