At the end of every semester students have the option to fill out course evaluations, allowing them to voice their opinions on a course. Professors can take this information and use it to improve their course, but students have no access to it and are forced to rely on other tools to get information on their upcoming classes.
RateMyProfessors.com is a free website that allows students to leave detailed reviews on any and all professors their university has to offer.
There are thousands of ratings for the 1,799 University of Louisiana at Lafayette professors available on RateMyProfessors, and the reviews include course difficulty, grading difficulty and even things like a professor’s sense of humor and availability. Students can also leave more detailed comments to better describe the course and professor in their own words.
Aaron Boston, junior kinesiology major, is currently in his first semester at UL Lafayette after transferring from Augustana University in South Dakota, and he said he uses RateMyProfessors to see how to best approach each class he takes, as opposed to basing his entire class schedule off of the reviews.
“(RateMyProfessors) just gives me an idea on how I need to approach that teacher,” Boston said. “If they say they’ve got mean comments, then I know how to approach that teacher when I need help … I understand teachers are different, so me trying to fight who they are doesn’t really help, so I try to see if I can cope with it in some type of way.”
Boston said he found RateMyProfessors helpful and accurate, but added some comments needed to be taken with a grain of salt.
Boston recounted one class he took with a professor who had more negative comments. They warned everyone against taking the class, saying that they would fail because of how hard it was, but Boston found the class fine, if only requiring more work than others offered.
“To me, after hearing everyone’s comments, it just sounded like those were people just not putting in that effort,” Boston said.
The information on RateMyProfessors is, obviously, available for everyone to read, including professors.
Kevin Zito, Ph.D., math professor at UL Lafayette, said he checks his page on RateMyProfessors because, similar to course evaluations at the end of the semester, he wishes to see what his students have to say about his course.
“I am supportive of any system where I can see what the students think of me,” Zito said.
“I’m down for it … It doesn’t matter what they say. If they’re saying it, there must be a reason why they’re saying it, so I try to get the most out of it. Even if I have to kind of read through some things to see.”
One of its biggest boons — as well as its biggest fault — is RateMyProfessors’ anonymity. Because everything is anonymous, students can leave whatever comments they wish, and students can be just as biased as anyone else.
Zito added he appreciates the fact that RateMyProfessors is anonymous, because it allows students to be more honest in their reviews, even if sometimes it could get “misused” to spread mean or harsh messages about certain professors.
Zito is one of the most well-rated UL Lafayette professors on RateMyProfessors, and, although he noted that could affect how he views the website as a whole, he said that even without such a high rating he would still value the information it provides — the bad as well as the good.
“Even if it’s on a bathroom wall if someone told me, ‘You go to the restroom in such and such building and they got all kinds of stuff written about Zito on the wall,’ I’m going to look at it because I want to know,” Zito said. “I want to know what they’re writing, good, bad and ugly. I want to know.”
Nick Dufrene, junior English major, said he mostly uses RateMyProfessors when he has more than one option for professors, usually opting for the professor with the better rating.
“It depends,” Dufrene said. “You know, some students can be kind of biased depending on what grade they get. Like for example, there was one professor that got rated kind of poorly, but they ended up being one of my favorite teachers.”
Dufrene’s younger brother, freshman architecture major Matt Dufrene, said he was grateful to have the information on RateMyProfessors because it made his introduction to college both easier and less worrisome.
“I think I would have been scared for a lot more professors not knowing anything at all going into classes and having that tool and knowledge helps me be a little more prepared to know what exactly I’m getting into,” Matt Dufrene said.