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Should You Rely on Rate My Professor To Make Your College Decision?

Many students rely on the website RateMyProfessors.com to determine what colleges and professors to avoid or embrace. However, some critics find the reliability of the website to be questionable for various reasons. Learn whether students should use RateMyProfessors.com as a source in making college decisions.

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Brief Overview of RateMyProfessors.com

RateMyProfessors.com is the largest website for professor and college ratings. Many students seek this tool as a source to learn what professors they should or shouldn't take classes from, as well as what colleges to attend or not. This site is open to the public and has user-generated ratings: a student who has taken classes from a particular professor is able to rate that professor and also post comments about why they do or don't recommend the professor. The same goes for the college ratings: students are able to rate the college they are attending or have previously attended, along with comments about why they would or wouldn't refer anyone to that college. In addition, every year, RateMyProfessors.com compiles a list of top-rated professors and colleges nationwide.

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The Pros and Cons of Using RateMyProfessors.com

There are some benefits to using RateMyProfessors.com. First, college students are able to read some first-hand opinions about potential professors and colleges to find a good fit for their academic needs and preferences. Second, this site provides students with digital teacher evaluations that can be retrieved at any time, consisting of millions of ratings collected for over a decade.

On the other hand, one of the reasons why critics don't support RateMyProfessors.com is because the website only takes certain aspects into consideration, such as a professor's easiness, clarity and helpfulness. These limited categories don't provide much validity to justify the ratings given. Some students post ratings or comments that are irrelevant to a professor's teaching ability, such as critiques of his or her physical appearance. Teaching effectiveness is multifaceted, and rating it should be based on richer measures, such as how well students master what they learn in the professor's class, how well-prepared the professor is, or how rigorous and relevant the professor's courses are.

In some cases, students may rate a professor poorly due to personal dislike rather than an objective evaluation of his or her teaching skills. Students are even able to post multiple ratings and comments from different computers or by using different email addresses, which lets them skew the ratings. There are certain students who don't hold themselves accountable for their class performance, and they are most likely the ones who will post negative ratings. For instance, one professor may receive a low rating from a student who never did any work and flunked the course, and another professor who wasn't very challenging and gave all the students 'A' grades may be given high ratings.

Finally, it's important to remember that every student is different. In the same class, one student may find a professor extremely easy, while another student may struggle to pass, and their ratings of that same professor would be very disparate. Keeping all of the above in mind, it's advisable to use RateMyProfessors.com only as a secondary source rather than a main source when making college decisions.

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