Opinion: Students should not solely rely on Rate My Professors to pick classes

With a wide variety of options to choose the right professor, it's important to use the right source

When signing up for college classes, most people can be found scouring endless amounts of reviews for professors online, scrambling to find the best possible class in a sea of thousands of others. 

RateMyProfessors.com is a common website that college students use in order to determine what professors or classes to take based on reviews given by previous students. However, it shouldn't be the only resource students rely on. 

While it may seem easy to scroll through a few online reviews and choose a professor, it's more helpful to reach out to your ASU resources.

There are many factors that go into rating a professor on the website. The range of rating options stems from giving the class a letter grade to a plethora of tags. A few common tag examples include: “Tough Grader,” “Skip class? You won’t pass.," and “Lecture Heavy.” 

Incorporating tags like “Skip class? You won’t pass.” might promote students to find classes where attendance doesn’t matter, and why ditch a course that’s meant to enrich? 

However, the most subjective of all the grading criteria seems to be the comments section. Restrictions appear to be minimal in the comment section and users are allowed free range in what they feel like expanding on in it. Students that received a less than average grade can leave a scathing review on the site, and those who scored top of the class can as well. 

Shauna Dranetz, an academic success coordinator for the Department of English at ASU, said, “I always encourage students to be using their ASU resources to get the most accurate information.”

It’s hard to always rely on anonymous comments left on third party websites, and not everyone else's situation is unique to your own. It’s also easy to discourage or disparage future students from taking a course based on an individual's few negative experiences.

Dranetz recommends speaking to advisers who she described as, "all encompassing resources that can really take into account that student’s individual situation.” 

However, there are more options than just solely consulting an adviser. 

Dranetz said some additional tools include speaking to students within that school or major and “contacting the faculty themselves if they have questions or concerns about the class.”

The ASU website offers a variety of tools in order to connect a student to a faculty member. A search index in the website is offered and allows students to type in professors' names or departments and learn more about what a particular professor offers or specializes in. 

Picking college classes shouldn’t center around which course is the easiest, which course assigns the least amount of of work or which one requires the most amount of attendance. 

College is a time to take courses that excite a student or challenge them to become better scholars. 

While utilizing RateMyProfessors.com can be beneficial, it’s not as effective as using an ASU resource like an adviser or consulting a fellow student. Word of mouth from a reliable source is much more useful than the words of a stranger online.


Reach the reporter at dkodonne@asu.edu and follow @Devynnodonnell on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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