Let’s be honest: who doesn’t use Rate My Professors?
Okay, there are a few individuals who wouldn’t use RMP for a variety of reasons, but I can tell you that all of my friends have consulted the Web site extensively when selecting their classes.
I too have fallen prey to the easy-to-use Web site, which features over one million professors from 6,000 schools. Every semester before I register for courses, I pop onto the site and research every professor and read many reviews from anonymous students. At the end of the semester, I do my best to write my own reviews while university-wide evaluations are administered.
The advantages and disadvantages of the Web site are clear, both of which stem from the fact that submissions are anonymous; just like Wikipedia, credibility suffers when someone named hotchic9843 writes, “Mr. So-and-So was an awesome prof, take him, easy A!!!!1” I feel safe when reviewing poor professors behind a nickname; blame my paranoia, but I could never openly criticize one of my professors over the Internet without the aid of a pseudonym. I mean no disrespect, but I know professors are people too.
The ratings I’ve read have been accurate, though; I’ve never attended a course with a prof that was given countless happy faces on the site, yet was instead a horrible grader and homework-monger. Vice versa, I knew what I was getting into when I took a class with a prof rated “:|”, or so-so. But I do typically stay away from professors with those morose blue sad face ratings.
But I don’t strictly rely on the site; I also go by word-of-mouth. Think of it like SparkNotes: you don’t just read SparkNotes when you have trouble with a novel, you read SparkNotes as you read the book. If you just read SparkNotes, you’re losing out on the specifics. Friends tell me their professor’s mannerisms, whether or not they’re passionate about their subject – they’re more telling of their personalities compared to the site.
Besides, “Mrs. XYZ is a huge b****” doesn’t help me much.