Rate My Professors - Friend or Foe?

In our well-developed digital society, it’s possible for us to find out about the quality of almost anything.

Thanks to Yelp, we’ll never have to suffer through a terrible meal again. Due to Rotten Tomatoes, we can make sure that all of our movie-going experiences are spectacular.

The unpleasant surprises and the terrifying uncertainty that comes with new experiences is all but gone.

Thanks to a page called “Rate My Professor” it is possible to avoid bad teachers. Students can easily, anonymously rate a professor whose class they’ve attended, and affect the overall rating of the professor, for all prospective students to see.

Information that students are encouraged to provide include the importance of attendance, textbook use, helpfulness, and similar things that inform new students of the professor’s teaching style.

There is also space to give one’s opinion about the professor’s appearance. Whether a professor is “hot or not,” is expressed with the existence or absence of a hot pepper.

Whether this is relevant information, just a fun fact, or simply a hurtful and unnecessary way to humiliate a human being doing their job, is for each of us to decide.

One of the parameters that affects the professor’s overall score is “easiness.” Consequently, if a student thinks that a good grade from the professor requires a lot of work, the professor's overall ranking will go down.

Students should be careful to take the teacher ratings with a grain of salt, and read the comments along with each different parameter carefully.

But there is no doubt that the “easiness” is the desirable trait in teachers. This makes it seem as though the webpage is not designed for those who want to learn, but for those who want a good grade, whatever the cost may be.

Jose “Tony” Medina, a Santa Monica College sophomore, says that difficulty does not make him shy away from classes since high expectations give him motivation, and preparation for higher levels.

“Sometimes I would want to [take easy classes], but I know deep down that it’s not going to help me in the long run,” Medina said.

Another problem with Rate My Professor, is bias. Bias is the reason that SMC math teacher DiEm Nguyen has not yet looked at her rating. She thinks that students would most likely give a bad rating to a professor that gave them a bad grade, and good ratings to the ones that gave them good grades.

This raises another issue. When students are influenced by the ratings on Rate My Professor, the demand for classes taught by professors who are generous with their grades will increase.

Easy classes might fill up quickly, and difficult classes might get canceled. Therefore, it is possible that teachers, consciously or subconsciously, may make classes easier, or give students higher grades than they deserve.

Along with the frustration of not having enough students in their classes, teachers, if they care, might have to deal with their own reputations being affected by this website.

As first-year student Gabby Hagh pointed out, Rate My Professor also affects your digital footprint.

“When you google your name, you want good things to come up, not horrible comments,” she said.

Still, Rate My Professor does have it's benefits. Being able to read about a professor’s way of teaching to figure out whether it suits you or not is something very valuable.

The possibility for a professor to read feedback from students can also lead to positive change. It can allow teachers who acknowledge what their students might prefer, to modify their teaching methods to bring out the success in their students.

The benefits of Rate My Professor are without question, but students should still be mindful to the harm it can cause to an education.

International students that pay a fair amount of money to attend SMC, or to any of the students that want something back for the time that they’ve invested in their education, not getting anything, apart from an A, out of a class, is incredibly frustrating.

Having easy teachers can make school a lot of fun, but make it too easy, and you might not be in college very long.