Don’t Rate Your Professor

At FMU, one of the first things I was old was to never “shop” for professors when registering for classes. I had to give them a chance because what really matters isn’t how much I like the professor, but how much I learn from the class.

am completely and totally guilty of shopping for professors through websites like “Rate My Professor.” When I see anything close to a five out of five star rating, I feel confident that I will enjoy that professor’s class. It’s easy to get caught up in reading reviews of professors online, but most of them are biased because of people’s expectations for their classes.

Every once in a while, I rate a professor who really impressed me or made me angry. Just like most of the other reviews online, my comments are fueled by how I felt about my grades in the classes. When I consistently got As, I wrote about the professor’s honesty and his or her helpful comments on my work. When I couldn’t get my grade above a C, I wrote about how impossibly difficult the tests and quizzes were and how I wished for more extra credit opportunities. Looking back, these reviews don’t reflect how I feel about the professors.

Asking other students which professor to take for a class is not always the best way to choose a professor, either. The arguments I’ve heard for and against professors are similar to the ones I see online; if students find that the class is difficult to pass, then they advise other students to choose another professor. Registering for classes becomes a “Choose This, Not That” affair, and students share their experiences before making their schedules. Every department seems to have a favorite professor, too, who gets recommended frequently. That leaves the professors who are not “the favorites” with worse reviews as students are set up to dislike those teachers whom everyone already dislikes.

Even though giving new professors a chance is a great thing to do, not knowing a professor’s grading style is a risk that can result in low grades. Over time, I’ve learned to choose professors whose method of testing and grading best fits my preferred style of learning. Finding professors who will work with you as much as you put in the effort to work with them can make classes less stressful and can sometimes even help you learn more.

The best policy seems to be emailing your future professors and asking about their grading policies. If a tough grader or a homework-lover is the kind of professor you want to avoid, honesty is the best policy. There is no point in following your friends’ opinions about professors when most professors are happy to speak to you themselves.

So remember, when you start your classes this semester, your friends’ recommendations might not have been perfect. Your professors are more than the reviews posted about them online or shared between friends. Shopping for professors may be tempting, but getting to know professors for yourself is more profitable in the long run.