Are Some Professors Better Than Others? Students Tell All!

In your first year of college, you’ll quickly learn that some professors are more effective in the classroom than others. As a result, college students decided to come together to tip off other students about their overall opinion of various courses and professors.

Where can you find this information? www.RateMyProfessors.com.

This website is written for college students, by college students. RateMyProfessors.com is the most popular online source for professor ratings.

With 8,000 schools and more than 15 million student comments and ratings, this website has become the highest used resource for researching professors. There are 1.7 million professors listed from colleges and universities across the United States, Canada, and the UK.

So how do you use this resource?

  1. Find your school by either typing it in the search bar or clicking on your state icon in their map feature.map 
  2. Select your university.
  3. Once you arrive at the page for your particular university, the professors will be arranged alphabetically by last name.

After selecting your professor, at the top of the page you will find the professor’s average scores out of five for the following categories: overall quality, helpfulness, clarity, and easiness. The scores are averaged from the collection of comments left by students.

teacher

Each comment usually ranges between two sentences to a full paragraph. The website nicely displays each student’s opinions on the four categories listed above in a color-coded bar graph next to the comment. Their overall quality score will also be accompanied by an icon matching that score. (Look for the smiley faces!)

comments

If a student rates a professor extremely high on all categories, RateMyProfessors.com offers the option of giving that professor a hot chili pepper next to their ratings at the top of the page. If a professor receives one of these symbols for “hotness” in their teaching style, you should definitely be sure to add their class to your schedule!

Chili Pepper

So, once you view the overall ratings of the professor, take the time to read what students have to say. The first thing to look for is the course number you are inquiring about. This is important because a professor might receive better feedback in some courses as opposed to others.

Beware: some students write more credible reviews than others. One student may rate the class as awful based on the workload whereas another student will rate it as excellent based on the personality of the professor.

Now, as a college student I understand that we have a lot of homework on our plates, but I truly think the most important thing to research in these comments is the persona of the professor.

So filter out the comments that simply state “so much reading…not an easy A” because those aren’t going to help you make your decision to take the course. On the other hand, key phrases to look for are “easily approachable”, “available to help you outside of class”, and “explains things well”.

Another interesting feature is that now professors can post their feedback as a rebuttal or thank you to what the students have said about them. Read these comments too in order to see what the professor have to say about their courses. (If you choose to add your input to the website after the semester ends, don’t worry, all comments are anonymous!)

College courses should offer a challenging environment because that’s the best way for students to truly gain the upper-level education they are paying for. So, I recommend that you use RateMyProfessors.com as a tool in researching your professors, but don’t let it be your only reason for choosing a course.

While this website is helpful in deciphering if certain professors create a difficult learning environment, be sure to decode which comments are helpful in understanding the professor’s teaching style as opposed to whether the course is going to be a lot of work. It’s a college class; of course it’s going to be a lot of work!

Hopefully this research tool will make your next scheduling session a little more productive and help you choose the best professors for your field of study. Good luck!

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Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk is a junior at the University of Dayton pursuing a degree in communication with a concentration in electronic media as well as a minor in English. While not in class, Stephanie is involved in a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and a honors professional fraternity, Phi Beta Chi. Outside of academic and community activities, she enjoys dancing hip hop, reading, spending time with friends, and doing yoga.