Online professor ratings could be hurtful, sway students

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    It is just about that time again to start choosing courses for the new semester. Students all over campus are desperately fighting to dodge the 8 a.m.’s—and even the 8 p.m.’s—and that one professor who could single-handedly cause the complete plummet of a hard-earned grade point average.

    Founded in 1999, ratemyprofessor.com was a way for college students to recommend instructors or warn their fellow students from taking specific instructors on their campuses. Over ten million comments have been posted on the site from students across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Over 6,500 schools are featured on the site as well as over one million professors.

    Because this is my third year of college and my sixth semester to enroll in courses, I decided for the first time to utilize the site when trying to decide on which professor to choose for a specific course. And some of the comments I read really got me thinking.

    Statements such as “worst teacher on campus” and “impossible grader” were featured on some professor profiles. But what was most interesting was that more times than not, the students who posted negative feedback were the ones who had clearly failed the course. Most of the rants ended with “had to pass/fail” or “I had no choice but to drop the class,” making me feel as if I were getting advice from a bitter ex-boyfriend.

    Students who have the tendency to slack off or make excuses for themselves are the same exact students who make a website such as ratemyprofessor.com purposeless. I valued the students who made comments praising the initiative of the teacher more, all the while highlighting the demanding workload without resentment. There is a fine line on the site between students who are looking out for the best interest of their classmates and of those who were left with a sour taste in their mouths solely because of their own lack of effort.

    Ultimately, I think the website can be very beneficial because it really is a lot more convenient to walk in on the first day with a heads-up about what to expect. God only knows what college students did before the Internet generation.

    As college students—especially ones who are putting forth input that could radically alter a person’s academic career—we should do so responsibly. If students are considering all aspects of the classroom experience from the work load to the professor’s “hotness”—yes, that too can be rated—then they should also consider their own work ethics.

     

    Andrea Masenda is a journalism major from Denton, Texas.

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