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Interpreting Rate My Professor Scores Like a Pro

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

During my first semester of college, I didn’t know how to truly analyze other students’ reviews on Rate My Professor. When I signed up for a challenging introductory class my freshman year, I saw that the professor had very descriptive, yet negative, Rate My Professor scores. Since I didn’t know how to discern which reviews were legitimate and which weren’t, I enrolled in the course anyway.

After two weeks in the class, I found the reviews to be very accurate. However, during my sophomore year of college, I took another course with a different low-scoring professor. I realized that, in this case, many of the Rate My Professor reviews were exaggerated; the professor was amazing! Determining whether Rate My Professor scores are genuine is a difficult task. Here are some tips to decode a review like you decoded Taylor Swift’s last Insta caption:

1. Look to see if the review is specific

A review that simply states that the class was “hard” does not give any details. Why was it hard? Did the professor assign an unrealistic amount of homework? Were the readings assigned lengthy and confusing? Take the vague reviews with a grain of salt. If the reviewer doesn’t use defined examples from the class, there is a chance that factors from that particular student’s lifestyle, such as a lack of studying or spending too much time watching “Love Is Blind,” could have influenced his or her review.

2. Look closely at the tangible descriptions of the course to see if the course would fit your personality and learning style

How was the course depicted by the reviewer? Perhaps the class relies on readings, but you are a hands-on learner. Or maybe you prefer to be in the classroom and the class materials are mainly digital. Consider the specific descriptions of the class to see if the course would be a good fit for your learning style.

3. Look to see what students are saying about the actual professor in their reviews

Once again, be on the lookout for solid examples that describe the instructor’s personality. If a review describes the professor as “crazy” or “strange” but is not accompanied by any examples, then the student could have simply perceived the instructor that way due to personal factors.

One of my former professors was described as odd on Rate My Professor; however, when I took the course, she was a very nice, helpful instructor. She was more introverted and quiet, which could have caused the student to misinterpret her personality. Therefore, view these opinion-based adjectives lightly unless there are examples given. A review that describes a professor as “rude” because he or she regularly leaves demeaning feedback on assignments is more credible than a review simply calling the instructor “mean.”

4. Don’t skip over the professor’s “Top Tags”

The top tags are found toward the bottom of the review in dark gray ovals. Some common tags are “Skip class? You won’t pass,” “Lecture Heavy” and “Participation Matters.” These tags can give you incredible insight into the professor’s expectations and format, which can help you decide if this class would be a vibe for you. Maybe you really value seeing how your professor analyzes your work. If so, look for the tag “Gives Good Feedback.” Or maybe it is important for you to have a professor with an inclusive personality. If so, see if the “Caring” tag is present. Lastly, perhaps you want to be able to reach out to your professor for help throughout the semester. The “Accessible Outside Class” tag would give you assurance that you can meet your goals. Determine what you want out of the class and look for the corresponding tags.

These four steps will help you approach Rate My Professor like a pro. Rate My Professor is a valuable tool that students can use to help preview class instruction styles. However, the website is not the be-all and end-all. Rate My Professor doesn’t reflect the experiences of every student in the class, including those that had a great experience. The ratings also don’t factor in your personal work ethic and goals.

Lastly, remember that professors are human and are much more than a score on a website. They each bring their own individual personalities, experiences and insights to the table. The website can certainly be used as a resource, but it should never be the only factor. Talk to your guidance counselor, students in your program or even the professor themself to get a better idea of the course. Happy registration!

Caroline Crews is a third-year public relations major at the University of Florida. As a PR major, she enjoys nerding out about consumer analytics and campaign design. Caroline has used her education to design social media plans for both non-profit and for-profit organizations, create targeted email campaigns, and construct the branding of several organizations. When Caroline is not immersed in the field of PR, you can find her going on a walk, spending time with friends and family, or making a pot of coffee.