BY AUDREY ROBINSON
It’s smart to browse professor rating websites. Your education is important to you, and you’re counting on your professor to help you achieve your goals. Just like you wouldn’t purchase a service from a professional without first reading their testimonials, you likely wouldn’t want to receive an education from someone you know nothing about.
When reading reviews however, there are a few things to keep in mind before you come to your final conclusion – it’s not always as straightforward as other types of testimonials.
1. People Are More Likely to Rant When They’re Angry
A good experience is something to be expected. When things go the way they should, it leaves nothing to be reported. Since rating a professor isn’t as commonplace as reviewing a restaurant on Yelp, people are more likely to seek out these professor rating websites to air out a grievance they have. This is why some professors who would otherwise be considered perfectly fine by the majority of students might seem to have disproportionately negative feedback.
2. Personal Situations Count for a Lot
If a student is taking a myriad of difficult classes, it’s likely that they’re experiencing a lot of stress. You’ve probably found yourself in a similar position. If people are hard on a professor, it could simply be the contrast or addition of this professor in their educational arsenal. Someone who is attending university while working two jobs might find a professor expects too much of them because of their other time commitments – it’s these little biases that skew objective truths.
3. You Need To Read a Ton of Ratings
If a professor has a lot of written ratings, only the most recent ones are going to show. If you want to get the full picture, you need to be willing to spend a considerable amount of time going through that professor’s ratings over the past few years. It helps to take notes on things you like or don’t like as you’re reading. This allows you to create a complete and balanced portrait of a professor that you can use to make an informed decision.
4. Understand That Some Things Will Always Be Difficult
People are often intimidated by professors that seem difficult, but you can’t always avoid these people. Sometimes, the nature of the subject matter creates a naturally difficult classroom environment. An art course is likely going to be easier than a course centered around tech skills. You can’t push all of that difficulty onto the professor – much of it comes from the material being presented. You might have to take a deep breath and agree to do something seemingly hard if you want to succeed in your education.
5. Evaluate Your Personal Needs
Professor ratings are a good way to gauge what other people can handle. What can you handle? If you’re a born academic who takes pleasure in studying and retaining material, you’re less likely to be overwhelmed in a learning environment regardless of the professor. If you’re the kind of person who actively craves personalized attention and assistance from a professor in order to make the most of your learning experience, you’re better off choosing someone with a hands-on approach. It ultimately comes down to the kind of environment you know will work for you, and everyone is different.
While visiting professor rating websites is helpful, it’s important to take the information you receive at face value. If you’re unsure, see if you can arrange a meeting with a professor to make determinations based on your own firsthand experience.
Audrey Robinson is a careers blogger, often working with young people looking for jobs and trying to boost their career opportunities. Currently, Audrey works as a part of the team behind Datastical, an online knowledge library. You can reach out to her on her Twitter @AudreyyRobinson.