Rate or fate?: Website provides source as students schedule for fall classes

Photo illustration by Fumi Nakamura/TheNews A student searches RateMyProfessors.com for professor reviews before scheduling classes.
Photo illustration by Fumi Nakamura/TheNews A student searches RateMyProfessors.com for professor reviews before scheduling classes.

Photo illustration by Fumi Nakamura/TheNews
A student searches RateMyProfessors.com for professor reviews before scheduling classes.

It is that time of year again for college students. The planning and the decision-making of what their schedules will be for next semester has finally arrived.

The process of choosing classes is usually dependent on what classes are still needed for their degrees. However, some students will take extra time to make sure the professors for those particular classes are the ones they want to spend the semester with.

RateMyProfessors.com seems to have become popular on campus. The site allows students to enter their school, class and professor information into a database for other students to see. They give the professor a rating in various areas and can also leave comments.

The site is public and accessible by all in order to gather as much information as possible to provide more accurate feedback.

“The site has some value as long as students view it with a critical eye,” said Chris Trzepacz, assistant professor of science, engineering and technology. “If a professor has only a handful of reviews, they could represent the most polarized experiences in the class. A larger sample size will give more accurate profiles of the faculty.”

The ratings can be helpful when trying to decide whether a professor may be too difficult for one particular student but just right for another. Of course, the hotness rating that is available would make no difference on their ability to present material.

According to Savannah Young, freshman from Cadiz, Ky., she uses the site before making any scheduling decisions. It’s a way to see how the professor could potentially run their class and a good way to know if they are a suitable fit.

These ratings are meant to be valuable for students, but they are valuable to the professors as well.

The ratings could serve as constructive criticism which professors may use to improve performance in the classroom.

“I do consider the comments left about me on the site,” Trzepacz said. “I have tweaked my delivery some based on them but I value the course evaluations given by the University more.”

The site also provides professors with the opportunity to respond to the reviews that have been left. In a section called “Professors Strike Back,” students can view the feelings of the professors based on what has been posted. Trzepacz mentioned that he has never responded to the feedback online.

The Internet can be a misleading tool when it comes to any part of information gathering and decision-making. Is the site a better source than getting the information by word of mouth?

“A lot of negativity is posted online,” said Drew Scott, sophomore from Flora, Ill. “Most people will post the more negative stuff than positive. I believe the site is a good starting point for maybe a freshman or transfer student who doesn’t know a lot of students just yet but it’s better to get opinions from actual people. They will usually be more open and honest since you’re face to face with them.”

Whether a student decides to use the site to make their decisions on whom to take a class with or by speaking to a fellow student, professors know the information is out there and they are open to speaking to their students about it.

“I acknowledge the presence of the site,” Trzepacz said. “When I discuss registration in class, I let my students know of the potential utility and inaccuracies of the content.”

Reference points such as RateMyProfessors.com serve as guides. When deciding on something that will define the course of a student’s semester, it is best to gather as many opinions as possible, even if the Internet is the only reference used.

 

Story by Katrina Yarbrough, Staff writer