Opinion: Why I’d give Rate My Professors a solid 2.2/5
By Isabelle Bennett, Features Editor
Three years later, and I still can’t shake the memory of hysterically crying, body limp as left-out lettuce against my parent’s tile floor circa August, 2016. My brilliant, university-bound self had made my first post-secondary mistake and neglected to pay my tuition fees before the deadline I didn’t know about. One glance at my freshly de-cluttered (to nothing) class schedule, a bitterly-paid re-registration fee and many, many prayers later I had crammed my way back into whatever classes would give me credit toward my degree. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?
I was so upset about my error and so convinced that it proved I was destined for failure no matter what, so I didn’t consult the student bible for class selection otherwise known as Rate My Professors. But to my delight, this didn’t turn out to be a bad decision.
For those who haven’t heard, Rate My Professors is a website where students can rate teachers or classes out of five for their overall quality and level of difficulty. Reviewers provide context by stating whether their class was for credit, attendance was mandatory, what grade they received and more. They can also offer up remarks (some after a full semester of experience, some — I’d imagine — after a few drinks) in their own words, too. Some teachers or classes have hundreds of reviews from students from years past, and some reviews even contain tips on how to get on a professor’s good side or score an A in the course.
For students not unlike myself just waiting for the recipe for that secret sauce that’ll get me the scholarships necessary to beeline into retirement upon graduation, the site might sound like a dream. But I can sincerely say I’m glad I didn’t sneak a peek at my professors’ reviews before I took their classes my first year.
To illustrate my point, let’s say I had. Let’s say I’d noticed Dr. A had a great rating, and Dr. B had a terrible rating, each with a sample size I deemed satisfactory. As much as I’d like to believe reading these reviews wouldn’t have affected my performance, there’s a very real possibility I would have slacked off in Dr. A’s course, assuming their class was easy or that they would be the facilitators of my learning so that I wouldn’t have to be. I could also force myself putting forth crappy efforts in Dr. B’s course, too, justifying my poor performance with my belief (and the solidarity of my fellow students) that they were the problem and that getting a better grade was simply unachievable.
When I put it that way, it’s a clear lose-lose situation. I will admit, though, I’ve read some reviews of professors after taking their class and been impressed to see that my fellow student body has hit the nail on the head, their specificity making me wonder whether their review was actually written by me in another dimension. I’ve also read some that make me wonder what criminal methods some professors are using to coerce positive reviews out of their students, or if they’re that pathetic that they write their own.
At the very least, I’d urge students take this as a word of caution, to not trust a rating at face value and never let a review affect their own effort. In summary, don’t knock things before you try them — regardless of whether “things” is referring to a professor, class, or cinnamon chutney on a turkey sandwich. One can never know what they’ll discover by taking a chance.