Rate My Professors: A great resource for registering students

With the main parts of class registration for next semester out of the way, one website is sure to have gotten additional traffic: ratemyprofessors.com.

The site recently received an overhaul of its user interface; whether to call it an upgrade is in the eye of the beholder. The reasoning behind the redesign could be to match the brand of MTV’s website, since Rate My Professors is owned by Viacom Inc. under their mtvU label, according to information given at the bottom of the site.

In any case, Rate My Professors gives students a source to refer back to while choosing classes for their next semester.

The site’s rating system is broken up into three categories, which are helpfulness, clarity and easiness. The survey then asks if the class was for credit, along with giving the option to say if they found the professor attractive. After, there are a number of tags to select from based on the professor’s characteristics. To finish things off, it asks if attendance was mandatory, along with the grade received and a scale of one to five on one’s interest and usage of the textbook.

The site has also recently integrated thumbing posts up or down depending on if the information was useful. This feature adds a useful element to the site as a way to tell potential students who view the post if it’s worth taking seriously.

There have been criticisms to the website, however, such as the reliability of posts since they are, for all intensive purposes, anonymous. A user can essentially say whatever they want about a teacher without consequence.

This could potentially be avoided by having the user sign in via a social media platform, such as Facebook or Twitter. It would make it so posts hold more substance and would perhaps even strengthen the content. This is simply a suggestion, though.

Personally, I use Rate My Professors before registering for any class where I have never met the teacher. Its essentially the next best thing to meeting the professor in person. No matter what though, I take each post with a grain of salt. Some posts are only there to bash the professor because the person got a bad grade and they want to complain about it. Other negative posts may sound sincere, however upon having a quality professor for a class after reading negative comments about them raises concern that some posts may be leading the student in the wrong direction. Generally, this doesn’t happen and the posts are true to the professors actual characteristics.

Despite the site being an anonymous source, students continue to use it prior to registering for classes. As stated in the “about” section of the site, “users have added more than 14 million ratings, 1.3 million professors and 7,000 schools to ratemyprofessors.com.”

This trend does not seem to be fading away, as nearly everyone I’ve talked to about registration has used the site. Regardless of its shortcomings, Rate My Professor only seems to be gaining popularity with no signs of slowing.