RateMyProfessor: Bashing or Useful?


-Kris Madden

If you’ve ever walked into Syllabus Day starting a fresh semester with a professor you knew nothing about, maybe you should have hopped on RateMyProfessor.com before class to see what sort of situation you can expect from a new-to-you professor. Almost all professors registered within an institution like Fitchburg State University are able to be found on RateMyProfessor.com and can be searched by name and school. There you can find the opinions of students just like yourself that have sat in the class you’re dreading and find out what you’ve signed up for.

Reviews are anonymous and will include the reviewer’s final grade for the class if they wish to share, as well as a text blurb where reviewers can include their own comments about the professor. This can be helpful for future students, to give a glimpse of what they liked or didn’t like about the professor. There’s also a rating of how many past students would take the professor again, and if a resounding 0% wouldn’t take a teacher with a low rating, you have a pretty good idea what to expect.

RateMyProfessor isn’t a definitive source of unbiased information about teachers- there’s definitely bias. A student has to feel strongly one way or another to leave a review about a teacher, leading many of the negative reviews to look rather harsh, but the important thing is to look at the volume and frequency of ratings for your professor. It’s not an end-all for a professor to have a negative or mediocre rating when they’ve had only a few reviews, but when you see dozens of reviews and a rating below a 2.0 and only a small percentage of students willing to take the professor again, you have a clear idea of what you can expect.  

RateMyProfessor can be a strong indicator of a professor you may want to take a class with in the future. Many professors that have never visited the site are surprised to find that their rating sits much higher than they realized it would. It’s not uncommon for students to emphatically enjoy a professor’s class so much that they couldn’t recommend that class or professor enough. I know I’ve had teachers whose names I wanted to shout from the rooftops as a credit to their professions.

Professors too would do well to visit RateMyProfessor.com to see what their students have to say about them. Some may not know that they’re as well-liked among their students as they are, and many may not be aware of a commonality in why they see only new faces each semester. Furthermore, some professors simply do not care about RateMyProfessor’s rating system, indifferent to the score they hold on the site. However, to simply shut out responses that a professor may erroneously take personally because they think that they’re above the opinions of their students is an egotistical mistake. A good professor absolutely should care what their students think of them, their teaching style and communication methods.

RateMyProfessor.com is a useful tool for both students and faculty alike, allowing students to provide indirect feedback to their professors, giving future students insight into what their future classes may look like, as well as a tool for professors to receive informal feedback regarding their strengths and weaknesses as educators. Education isn’t free and a professor can make a semester very difficult. RateMyProfessor is an excellent resource for students to ensure they can skip the ones that have a habit of making lives difficult.