Ratemyprofessor.com: Should You Trust It?

Popular amongst college students, Ratemyprofessor.com is a website that allows former students to rate and comment on the teaching styles and personalities of professors. According to the website, “ [it does] what students have been doing forever – checking in with each other – their friends, their brothers, their sisters, their classmates – to figure out who’s a great professor and who’s one you might want to avoid.”

While many people rely on the site for trusted advice, it is important to remember that the forum is just that, a forum, allowing anyone to post whatever they want.

Personally, I neither rely on nor dismiss the site, but if you chose to stop by and check out the dirt on your future professors remember these things:

What makes it trustworthy?

  • Average voting: The site rates each professor on easiness, helpfulness, clarity, and overall quality, on a scale from 1-5. The rank is given based on the average scores each student gives, so everyone gets their fair share on voting, good or bad.
  • Comments: Besides just numerical ratings, visitors are allowed to post comments next to their voting box. This way you can justify and understand ratings, whether they are low or high. If someone writes a comment like, “I didn’t like this teacher because there were a lot of tests,” and you are a person who tests well, you can take or leave the rating at your personal discretion.
  • It’s a supported site: The site has been growing, with currently up to 4 million students visitors, and there are over 7,500 universities and colleges represented. The site has also incorporated worldwide college news articles on their homepage, gotten reputable advertisers, and has terms of use and site guidelines instilled.

Why you shouldn’t rely on it

  • People hold grudges: Nothing brings out the worst in a student than point deductions or a bad grade, and who usually gets the blame? —The professor. The most popular way for students to get revenge against a professor is by bashing them. This site gives those students the perfect outlet to rant or discredit the name of a professor, but that doesn’t mean that those harsh words are entirely true.
  • You may miss out: Picture this, you finally worked out your schedule to take that perfect music production class you are so passionate about, you’re excited and ready, and then you check Ratemyprofessor.com and see a comment that says, “this teacher sucks.” You freak out, drop the class, and miss out on a great experience. Yes, the professor is a huge part of a course, but so are you. Even if the reviews of the professor aren’t so great, you have the power to still enjoy the class you’ve wanted to take. It’s all about how you handle the work, content, and relationship with your professor and classmates that determine the outcome. Be positive, you can make anything work.
  • Check the numbers: While it could also be a good thing, averages are double sided. Make sure you check out how many people have voted on a professor’s ranking before you judge their overall quality number. A high rating could be because only one person has voted, or because 100 have. The number of people that have voted effects the average, so make sure you investigate everything.

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Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She will be graduating with the BA in Media Studies and Communications in May. Editing the Entertainment section for her university’s newspaper and magazine has fueled her passion for entertainment journalism, which is the career path she plans to explore. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, listening to music, and catching up on celebrity gossip.

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