When I registered for my college courses in the summer of 2007, I didn’t know anything about ratemyprofessor.com. I picked courses that I thought sounded interesting, engaging, and would put me well on my way to completing some of the breadth requirements my liberal arts degree demanded. After bombing my midterm in Introduction to Theatre, I was pointed towards Rate My Professor by another disgruntled classmate. “I shouldn’t have taken this class,” she moaned, “but I thought she couldn’t be as bad as everyone said!”
Now, I’m not a fan of blaming professors for getting poor grades. I think that often they have high expectations of their students, and they aren’t looking to fail anyone. However, a quick scan of Rate My Professor would seem to indicate otherwise. “Worst prof. ever!” the reviews read, even as the rather condescending and inappropriate chili pepper that indicates physical attractiveness sat proudly next to her extremely low ratings. “Avoid like the plauge!” read another review, and although the misspelling helped me to discredit that particular author, the evidence against my professor mounted up quickly. Accusations of unfair grading, favoritism, and lack of clarity in expectations crawled over four pages of scathing reviews. In the interest of full disclosure, there were also a few bewildered posters who lamented the professor’s internet ranking fate, claiming she was “a great lady outside of class” and “a wealth of knowledge”.
Wealth of knowledge or not, I ended the course with my lowest grade in college. Because I went to a small school, it wasn’t always possible for me to schedule my classes around the professors that Rate My Professor warned me against. Rather than advisor, it often served as a validation when I was frustrated with a situation. Obviously it wasn’t my fault I didn’t understand my philosophy assignment, it was my unclear professor who was (thankfully) an easy marker. Looking back, though, I’m glad I didn’t rely on Rate My Professor to guide me through college. I would have missed out on some great experiences, and college isn’t just about the grade. You’ll have some professors that you love, and some that you hate, but they all certainly have something to teach you. Heck, some of the worst professors I’ve ever had have taught me some of the greatest lessons.
So my advice when it comes to Rate My Professor? Use it for kicks, but not necessarily for advice. What are your feelings about Rate My Professor?