RateMyProfessors.com Should Be Used With Caution

Every quarter, as we college students scroll through the Schedule of Classes and try to decide what to take, we invariably have to pick one class over another and/or pick one professor over another even though they teach the same class. Many people try to take classes with good professors, which may or may not coincide with, in their minds, ‘easy’ professors. Some people ask the opinion of friends who have already taken the class, but it is difficult if one doesn’t know anyone who has taken the class before, so many students consult RateMyProfessors.com
This Web site, which has expanded to letting people rate doctors and lawyers, lets college students voice their opinions on their professors’ easiness, clarity, helpfulness and other factors. Students can also leave short comments about the professor.
While this Web site can be very helpful, students should not let it be the only determining factor in their decision of whether to take a class or professor. We must realize that everyone has a different opinion about whether or not a class should be taken. What is an interesting and exciting class to one may be boring to another. What is an extremely challenging class to one may very well not be to another.
Another word of caution is that a student can rate the same professor the same way over and over again, thus skewing the ratings. And yet another is that some people may rate a professor for whatever reason even though he or she has never had the professor or was in the class for only one or two weeks. Some professors are not even on the site because they may be new or no one has added him or her yet. Don’t let it deter you from taking the class.
Not everyone uses RateMyProfessors.com and it’s fair to say that more people check it than submit their own ratings to the site. In addition, the people who do submit ratings are usually people who have very strong opinions about the professor. Through my experience, people who dislike something tend to voice their opinions more than people who are happy with something. In other words, the Web site is far from a representative sample of all students who took the class, unlike, for example, the teacher evaluations that students fill out toward the end of each quarter.
The best way to decide whether to take a class or professor is