Post Classifieds

Scheduling classes with Rate My Professor

By John Gumersell
On November 9, 2011

Emily Decker is currently scheduling courses for next semester. Instead of turning to an adviser, the junior majoring in nursing sought help from the website Rate My Professor to create her class schedule.

"I use ‘Ratemyprofessor.com' when scheduling, and if a review for the professor shows that they have an excessively rough curriculum or that many students had a terrible time in the class, I'll look for another professor for the course," Decker said.

Rate My Professor debuted in 2001 and has since collected over 10 million professor reviews from over 6,500 schools across the country. The website enables college students to write informal reviews of their professors and instructors, offering positive or negative recommendations to other students.

Like Decker, some students scheduling courses for the spring semester have reported referring to the website for assistance in choosing classes.

"I would say that this website could affect the scheduling process in the future, as I know that students use the website during the scheduling periods," Decker said.

Shelby Stalter, a sophomore majoring in anthropology, said she looks up each of her professors before registering for her courses.

"Occasionally, I will look up reviews on the site prior to class scheduling, too, to make sure I have a solid [professor]," Stalter said.

While some students are relying on the website to help them chose their courses, others, including the professors themselves, question its credibility.

"It seems to me that the site is as good or bad as the individual reviewer," said Sharon Barnes, professor of women and gender studies. "I would hope that students critically think about the assessments of the reviewers, just as they would about any other opinions they encounter."

Christine Hombrink, a junior majoring in English, said the reviews on the website are biased and should not be taken seriously.

"Unfortunately, many students will avoid the [professor] they're looking up if they see the negative reviews there," Hombrink said.

Lisa Bollman, academic adviser in the Gateway and QUEST program, said if students mention Rate My Professor during their appointment, she informs them the comments on the website are merely anecdotal.

"Word gets around fast," Bollman said. "Students come to their academic advising appointments already aware of the websites such as ‘Ratemyprofessor.com. Other students' opinions on a particular course may not reflect how the student I am working with would respond to the class or instructor."

Bollman said while the website loses some credibility with the hotness rating, it's likely to stay popular regardless of how faculty and advisers feel about it.

"The website has been around for years," said Matthew Wikander, advisor and professor of English. "In my department, we have always had a laugh at it. You will find many positive and negative reviews of instructors on the site, but I haven't seen it affect scheduling since the site first peaked several years ago."

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