How Much Should I Trust College Professor Ratings?

There are all different kinds of college professors.

There’s those no-nonsense calculus professors, those new-age liberal arts professors, those professors that insist you call them Professor ______,  and those ones that have you call them by their first name and give you their cell phone number. They all teach different ways, too.

Different types of students with different learning styles may benefit from a different type of teacher than their roommate will.  As I’ve mentioned before, in my article “5 Ways to Deal With a Difficult Professor,” when you register for a class, it’s a good idea to check Rate My Professors or any other college professor ratings site and see what the other students have to say about them.

And usually that will benefit you, but you have to take the ratings on that site with a grain of salt.

More likely than not, reviews are one extreme to the next

When you read any review written by consumers, whether it’s on a product, a restaurant, event, or anything else, there usually aren’t very mediocre reviews.  There are really awesome reviews, because someone was so excited about how fantastic their experience was that they wanted to share it, or really terrible reviews.  These people were so let down by their experience that they want to shout it to all of the internet, to make sure that nobody has to deal with the horrible ordeal they dealt with. There’s not usually very many in-betweens.  Because not many people who had an “okay” experience are going to have much to say.

Different people learn different ways

This professor might have a great review because they didn’t assign much homework and the bulk of the grade was based on exams. Students who aren’t very good test takers probably won’t be too satisfied with the grade they’ll end up getting. College professor ratings may say that the teacher isn’t very personable and there’s not very much class participation. Extroverted students won’t enjoy the class as much as introverts might.

Results can be skewed

This may come as a bit of a shock, but people aren’t always honest on the internet. Some people who were really upset  may post multiple bad college professor ratings under different names to skew the results to give the professor a worse rating than they deserve. It’s also been reported that professors who had some bad ratings in the past, either all of a sudden had a very satisfied class and their rating shot up in a semester, or they logged on and gave themselves better reviews.

I’m not trying to discredit the helpfulness of these college professor ratings, or trying to steer you away from using them. They can be a great tool in finding out what to expect from your coming semesters. Just be sure to read the reviews carefully.  Examine what the students said were the professor’s strengths and weaknesses and think about how they’ll work with your learning style.  Good luck and happy learning!

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Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, double majoring in journalism and communications. She writes for her college newspaper, mostly covering local bands and interns at 89x, a metro-Detroit radio station. She frequents the movie theater and when she has free time, she likes spend it with her friends. Carmen hopes to one day be a music journalist.