Ratemyprofessors.com — Love it or hate it?

Besides asking friends for class recommendations for Spring Term, I decided to take a look at the infamous ratemyprofessors.com website. Although I’d heard of it, I never bothered to look it up. I noticed that a lot of my classmates were choosing their classes solely based on this site, so I finally decided to see what this online craze was about.

Ratemyprofessors.com contains the professor’s name and an overall quality rating determined by the average of their helpfulness, clarity, and the easiness of the class. Students are also able to add comments and determine a professor’s “hotness” by clicking on a red chili pepper. A professor for the College of Liberal Arts and Studies at PSU had a lot of controversial comments on his page, such as, “He’s a bit moody, made a big example of a girl for being sleepy one day but good naturedly teased a boy for the same thing on another day. Class is a bit dull and not very well structured.” This site has literally given students the opportunity to become the Roger Ebert of online professor ratings.

Although some students find it helpful, I can’t get over the infestation of bashing rants from students who probably didn’t pass the class. This inevitably alters student’s decisions and forms predisposed expectations. As for the red chili peppers… if students are basing their course decisions on the professor’s looks, they should seriously reconsider why they’re attending college. Overall, I don’t see myself using this website and choosing classes based on biased judgments.

14 thoughts on “Ratemyprofessors.com — Love it or hate it?

  1. I’ve used ratemyprofessor.com for three years or so, and like anything else, it’s a tool. Everyone I know who uses it takes the negative comments with a huge grain of salt, and generally uses it to get an overall sense of the impressions of students, and to be aware of major red flags. People who complain about excessive workload or about it just being “too hard” are generally ignored. But when a prof has a lot of ratings and they’re consistently negative for the same reasons, I’m going to consider that. For instance, I’ve avoided a Stats professor who repeatedly gets complaints for being difficult to hear (mumbles), doesn’t answer questions, and tests on unfamiliar material. When the people leaving the comments are post-bacs and 4.0 students who say that this prof is a nice person but should really be teaching grad level classes, I’m going to take that into consideration. I don’t know anyone who avoids “hard” instructors based on ratemyprofessor, but it’s good to have some information going in to a class.

    1. Kessina- Thank you for your comment. I think you’re argument is valid in pointing out the quantity of consistent comments, whether good or bad. If the ratings and comments are linear and consistent than I think it builds credibility. However, how do you know the person who leaves the comment is a 4.0 post-bac? Do you trust that what they say about themselves is true?

  2. I definitely agree with Kessina. I don’t know many people that invest their entire schedule into lining up classes with ratemyprofessor, but it can be really helpful. I think most people are aware it is a blog and anyone can say what they want, but there is a lot of truth in behind (most of) the comments. I have used it for a couple years and they are pretty truthful. Yes, there will always be the one angry kid who failed because they never showed up, but those comments can be easily ignored.

    I especially find ratemyprofessor helpful when I have a choice between teachers. When you find a teacher with 30 reviews and an overall quality rating of 4.6 I would definitely go to that teachers class instead of the same class taught by a different professor. I have had some really incredible classes thanks to ratemyprofessor.

    I also think many people genuinely want to help each other find a good class and leave objective comments. I rate every teacher I have when I finish a class, whether I liked them, didn’t like them, or felt indifferent, just to help out the next guy.

    Also, I don’t think anyone truly takes classes based on the chili pepper. When you rate the professor, there is a little note that says “just for fun” if you want to click it or not. In reality not many professors have a chili pepper anyways, so I don’t think you could ever find professors that are only “hot.”

    Overall, it is a great tool to use when contemplating scheduling, but no, not to rearrange your college classes.

  3. It’s generally an accurate site. It takes many varying groups of people and allows them to voice their opinion about the class content, structure, and competence of their professor. I check on it after I’ve registered for classes and have experienced the first week on my own, from then I check the site and see what I can expect. Thus far, it’s been great to see how I should pose my attitude toward the professor. Let’s face it, some professors are uppity, and others are not. I like to know which to expect and also, it’s nice to have some eye candy in class, even if it’s a professor. Most of the professors are young able-bodied people and that’s sexy. Get with the times, grandma.

    1. Hello there, thanks for your insights. I have to agree that the site gives students the opportunity to voice their opinions and if used properly it can give you an idea of what to expect. I also think that if the professor is easy on the eyes than by all means enjoy the view, but would you choose and pay to take a class solely on the intructor’s looks?

  4. Great post on ratemyprofessor.com Atziri! I personally have never trusted the site, always assuming that only disgruntled students would take the time to post their opinions. I have always had great luck with choosing good professors based on word-of-mouth from other students I respect. However, the comments on this thread are good points and I suppose with an open mind, the website could be very useful in choosing the right professor for my learning style. Since this is my last term, I guess it is a little too late to check it out now. Interesting concept though!

  5. Ratemyprofessors.com (RMP) has made a huge difference in my grades/happiness in school. Using RMP.com has also allowed me to enjoy school a lot more by avoiding poor quality teachers (when possible). My philosophy is that bad teachers give bad grades/experiences and good teachers give good grades/experiences. I did a few experiments during my first few years of college before I knew about RMP where I did not use any teacher ratings to choose my classes. In result, I had an amazingly poor experience with the quality of teachers/grades I received. For the following term, I proceeded to us RMP to choose all my classes. The end result, good grades/experience. Now, I always use RMP and my experience/grades have increased significantly in school.

    When ratings are available, I choose teachers that align with my style of learning (helpful, concise, cheerful, knowledgeable, realistic expectations), therefore, I learn more and get better grades. Plus, I don’t get so frustrated with poor quality teachers. RMP has allowed me to stay away from teachers that are angry, mean, uncaring, unrealistic expectations, and unorganized. Some teachers really make you bend over backwards and then they give out grades that do not match the inputted effort. I will never go back to blindly choosing my teachers without checking their ratings again. It is definitely worth it if you like getting good grades and happy experiences.

    1. Bradley- I really enjoyed reading your comment. It’s great to hear that some students, like yourself, are getting some good use of this site. You seem to be very supportive about using this site to choose your classes. Has this ever failed? Do you feel that you have higher expectations about the class and professor after reading many positive comments and ratings? Have you ever felt that the professor didn’t live up to the expectations ratemyprofessors.com set up?

  6. My first term I did not know about ratemyprofessor.com, and I chose my profs based on schedule, I ended up with one of the worst experiences I have ever had with a professor because of it. When I went back and looked at the site, I saw that he had a reputation for inconsistency and a dismissive attitude toward students. I have used the site ever since and find it invaluable. As noted above, the chili pepper is only for fun. My only problem with the site is it seems to have major server trouble and the search function does not work very well . When I log it in should only search professors names in only the universities I have specified for my account, not every professor in the database with that name.

  7. I’ve used ratemyprofessor as a way to both gather insight into past students’ experiences when considering a choice of professors as well as posting my own comments after a term is over.

    In one instance, a new community college prof. had no business teaching an introductory science course. He was a poor teacher who did not know how to break down the complicated material for beginning level students – I am speaking as an elementary teacher. I felt it was my duty to inform anyone following me that this person would be a waste of time, money, and cause great frustration. (No sour grapes here since I earned an A in the class.) Even though class surveys are taken every term, I wanted to make sure the information was available outside of the school’s politics and hierarchy.

    I think you can tell which RMP comments are genuine and which are disgruntled. When a number of people post clearly, and articulately, their likes and reasonable dislikes about a professor it carries weight.

  8. Often I find that the negative comments are the ones that convince me it’s a good teacher. You can learn a lot from the combination of mature comments and random complaints. It’s a great tool, and although I’ve never had a hot teacher before, I think it’s perfectly valid information to include.

  9. I use ratemyprofessor each term. While I know that there will be negative remarks from those who didn’t succeed in a class, I know to not hold a lot of weight to those comments. I look for comments related to projects/reading/assignments to see if there is a common thread. If I see multiple post with similar information, I know that the professor might not be who I want.

    On the flip side, I always comment on all of my professors for others to have for their gain. I think it’s a great tool but you have to realize that people are more inclined to complain than compliment.

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