Truth behind Rate My Professor

Veronica Wernicke, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: Veronica Wernicke is a freshman at UNCW majoring in Communication Studies and is a staff writer for The Seahawk. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Veronica Wernicke may be found on Twitter @itsveronica98. All suggestions and inquires may be sent via email to [email protected]

Signing up for college classes can be a stressful process, and now that you get to pick your professors — as opposed to high school — it adds in another stressful factor, because no one wants to get “the bad professor.” Now, thanks to the popular website Rate My Professor (RMP), you can now at least get an idea of what that professor’s class will be like.

RMP allows students to give their professors ratings and little reviews about their experience in that professor’s class. Ratings include “would take again,” level of difficulty, hotness and overall quality. Along with the little blurbs about personal opinion or experience, there are tags you can attach which include “skip class? You won’t pass,” “gives good feedback,” “lots of homework,” and “caring,” among other descriptors.

As an incoming freshman this year, it didn’t even cross my mind to look at RMP because one: I had completely forgot about the website, and two: I didn’t want to waste time looking at potential professors and end up missing the class in case it had filled up. We all know that freshmen get the last pick of classes, so I didn’t have time to look all that up anyway.

Thankfully though, this semester I have enjoyed most to all of my professors, so I can say that I got pretty lucky, especially coming in as a clueless and confused freshman. I can’t say if I’ll even use or look at RMP next semester, but the question of its accuracy and helpfulness does come into play. To test its accuracy, I thought I would see the rating my professors got on RMP and compare them to my own opinion of my professors. Granted, I will keep it all anonymous for the sake of kindness, even though there are definitely some professors at UNCW that have checked their rating on RMP almost like a teenage girl checking how many likes she got on her Instagram selfie.

As far as my professor in English goes on RMP, she has a 3.6 overall rating and a 2.4 for level of difficulty. I’m enjoying the class so far and doing really well, but I would agree with the level of difficulty. I find her class “easy” because I’m doing well, but I’m not sure if that’s necessarily accurate for every student. In terms of her overall quality rating, which again was a 3.6, I would go even further to give her a 4.0 out of 5.0 because, again, I really enjoy the class and I’m doing well. I also like her teaching style, and that class structure is a little flexible, which is nice for transitioning as a fresh college student.

On the flip side, this English professor hasn’t put up any grades and hasn’t given back our first papers yet. So as someone who likes to receive a paper ASAP so I can improve the next paper, that really irks me. Also, I’ve heard from other classmates that she isn’t great at responding to emails, despite the fact she usually sends our class an email either before or after class. Ultimately, her rating makes sense, aside from a few outliers who had really bad experiences or just didn’t like her.

For my anthropology professor, I believe her rating on RMP is pretty much spot on. Her class is by far one of my favorites, despite its higher level of difficulty in terms of prior knowledge. On RMP she has a 4.3 overall rating, a 3.5 for level of difficulty and a 67 percent of student raters who said they would take a class with her again. Like I said earlier, her rating is fair, because one of the reasons for her higher rating is due to the fact that she loves what she does and is so passionate about her field of work.

However, it isn’t a 5.0 probably due to fact that this Anthropology professor doesn’t give access to her PowerPoints if you missed class, she moves pretty fast with material because there is so much to cover and doesn’t really do any study guides. Also, if you go to a study session — led by her TA — you can’t share the “study guides” with someone who didn’t go, and you’ll be doing a lot of required reading from the textbook for online quizzes and in-class testing. Overall, her rating is fair and I agree with most of the students who provided the ratings.

My music professor’s ratings on RMP is another one that is spot on, and not for good reasons. I took the class because it sounded interesting, and it is, but thank goodness I didn’t look at RMP beforehand because I don’t think I would have taken the class with him. As I mentioned, the material is interesting, but on RMP he has an overall rating of 1.9 and a 3.8 for level of difficulty. After scrolling through his RMP feed, I would 98 percent agree with the ratings and comments made. As a professor, he comes off very unprofessional because there isn’t really a structure or beforehand prep for each class. During every class he struggles with technology and the few PowerPoints he does — most of the class is a verbal lecture, so if you’re a visual learner — good luck.

Another factor that plays into this music professor’s low rating is that his tests, which are about every other week, can be very difficult and specific, due to the fact that the material is coming from his verbal lectures, and the book as well. If you miss a class, miss something he mentioned or don’t read the book, you can find yourself stressing during the day of the test. I think he might have a higher score if he got his act together and came to class more prepared, instead of going off into several side notes during his class and lectures. Overall, I do agree with the rating, and if you want to take the class he teaches, I would try it with a different professor.

The rating for my Spanish professor is a 4.3 for overall and 1.9 for level of difficulty, and I mostly agree with the ratings. Spanish is not my forte — despite my Cuban heritage — and I’m only taking it because of the University Studies requirement — insert eye roll emoji — so going into this class I was really anxious. Although, now that I’m in her class, I can say that she has helped ease my anxiety, and like my other classes, I’m doing really well, so I would agree with her overall rating and level of difficulty. She would have a higher overall rating if she didn’t breeze through some of the material in class sometimes, which in turn requires her students to really make sure they are doing the assigned readings and homework.

Another reason I like this Spanish professor’s class, and others do as well, is because she offers a fair amount of extra credit opportunities, which is nice in a foreign language, especially if it isn’t your specialty. For her level of difficulty rating, I’m not really sure how to accurately assess it because I’m doing well right now, but things could change depending on the material, and again, I cannot speak for other students who either find the class super easy or super tough. For me though, her class isn’t the hardest Spanish class I’ve ever been in, and again, I sure don’t know or understand everything that is being taught by her.

Finally my UNI (First-Year Seminar) professor, who isn’t solely a UNI professor, has an overall rating of 5.0 and 4.0 level of difficulty on RMP. In terms of my UNI class, I would definitely give her 5.0, or at least close to that rating, but as most of us know — or will come to know — UNI is not a difficult class, so the rating of 4.0 for her level of difficulty isn’t really accurate for my UNI class. However, that rating might apply more to her main field of classes. Despite my loath to having to take the UNI class itself, I find my professor really likeable and friendly. I enjoy having her as a professor, and I would totally take another class with her based on her overall rating, but the level of difficulty rating does make me a little nervous. Besides the fact that I can’t really judge her level of difficulty for her classes, I think for the most part that her RMP rating is pretty accurate.

Overall, RMP is a good resource to have nowadays — not just because it can be pretty fun reading some students’ little blurbs — and I’m pretty sure previous generations of college goers wish they had something like RMP, but I think it can also be a little inaccurate, depending on the professor and someone’s personal experiences, which can be very specific or extreme. For the most part, I agreed with the ratings my professors received thus far, based on my personal experiences with them, but I do know some people who don’t agree with a professor’s high rating.

Although, as I get ready to register for my classes in the spring, I’m probably not going to use it, because I can see that it could get obsessive when trying to make up a schedule for the next semester. I recommend using it more when you are taking more major specific classes versus using it for elective or filler classes. If you’re really nervous about taking a hard class like biology or chemistry, which are naturally hard courses where a professor could make or break your experience and understanding, then maybe look to RMP to help you pick the best fit for you.