As future college students prepare to find the school of their choice, undoubtedly they will be encouraged to surf the web for information, visit colleges, and investigate scholarships. Now they can take a look at the actual professors, and what students think of them.
Ratemyprofessors.com is an interesting and entertaining site. Registration is free, and registered members can surf through schools they are considering, and look at student commentary on faculty members in their areas of interest. Rebuttal of comments is also invited.
Student feedback is not scientific data, nor is it wholly reliable. Still, if a student is planning on a specific major and has her heart set on a particular college or university, the sum total of comments may be valuable.
I looked through colleges and universities in the New York metropolitan area, checking professors I have studied with, professors who are personal friends, and professors whom I have heard college students talk about. I found the comments in total to be pretty much an indicator of reality. When you have one or two comments that “this guy bores me” or “this teacher changed my life for the better” it is not worth paying attention to. When you have 50 comments over several years telling you the professor is the cure to insomnia, or that her expertise and passion for working with students is unmatched, then you have an idea of what to expect.
In looking up several professors from my past, I noted that those whom I knew had a problem with sexual harassment, or any kind of bias based on gender, race or ethnicity still had comments about those problems on the site. Those who were excellent and helpful had comments reflecting those same experiences. I found the site commentaries to be pretty true to life.
Student moderators check on the entries to be certain that nothing is posted that could cause or incite harm or criminal activity, and that the site is not used by those who would just start a campaign or vendetta and post hundreds of negative or positive comments about one professor. It is worth a look for any prospective college student, or anyone considering a transfer.
The owners of the site also maintain a similar one for high schools, ratemyteachers.com. This is open to students, parents, and teachers. It features a “Hall of Fame” for schools that encourage students to give feedback through it – and a “Wall of Shame” for schools that have banned access to it from school computers. Again, I looked up commentaries for teachers I know, and found them to be pretty interesting. Alumni post as well. It is a great tool for a teacher to get a sense of what some of the issues are with their students.