It's universally accepted that a great professor can turn a generally boring or difficult class into one that is fun and easy. Likewise, a terrible professor will make you either fall asleep, cry of anxiety as test grades are passed out, or drop the class altogether. To find the best professors we will talk to friends, classmates, and almost always turn to Rate My Professors to gain as much intel as possible.
While this website has guided me to make better decisions about which classes to sign up for, I have noticed that Rate My Professors severely misjudges many great, passionate, and caring professors. It is true that nightmares exist, but a bad professor will get fired by the university if he or she gains a reputation. There is a reason that student evaluations exist; the university ultimately wants students to make good grades, actually learn, and graduate. There are quite a few classes that I have made A's in with professors that are rated very low. One of these was during the summer and I loved the class--the professor had a 2.7 rating.
When I look at ratings I often do not see the grade the anonymous student earned, sometimes not even the course they took. What I see is a disgruntled person who likely did not put in the work required to do well in a class. They typically leave out details like how the teacher grades, how tests are formatted, and even how he or she lectures. Another point is that the ratings are anonymous and the student does not even have to take the class to put up a rating. What it boils down to is quality. When I look at reviews for a washing machine I want to know if the appliance is good, but not by somebody saying "This a good washing machine!" I want to know the details like cycle duration, cost, and how clean the clothes get. I only trust a source that bought and used the appliance for a little while. Rate My Professors does none of these things--it is not Consumer Reports.
Rate My Professors has a place and for some purposes it can be very useful. There are occasionally good reviews and one can find out if the teacher has a heavy accent, is on time, or if attendance is important. I will continue to use this website, but the best way to research a professor is by talking to a good student who actually had the professor.
Remember that professor that has a 2.7 rating? I emailed him to find out which class he is teaching next semester. I signed up.
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