Fulton is a first-year news/Internet major and can be reached at email@example.com
The week before registration I sit religiously on ratemyprofessor.com agonizing over what professor to take. Is a boring professor better than a hard professor? How easy is too easy? How much can you really trust these student posts? A lot of students claim the website is a cheap way to degrade professors. A lot of students also claim that ratemyprofessor.com is basically a holy book that will lead you to the promise land. Luckily, after my first semester, I am very happy with the professors the website guided me to. However, I attribute my success to looking critically at the website and drawing my own conclusions.
Instead of looking at whether or not people like the professor, I look at what they have to say about the teaching style. The comments on the professors often appear to come from a very heated and somewhat irrational place. They seem as if people post that they love or hate the professor right after they get a test grade back. Looking at the teaching style can give a better idea if the professor is right for you. I learn well from reading and discussion-based classes. I hate when classes only have one or two opportunities to earn a grade. So I look for those things in the comments. If I am going to get along with the professor, it will depend much more on how they teach rather than if other students liked them.
I also zero in on the specific class I am looking at taking. On the side of the comments the students put what class they had the professor for. Most professors are harder in certain classes and on certain subjects than others. If I am going to take a Psychology 001 course, then the comments about Psychology 124 are probably not going to be as helpful. I still take all comments into consideration, but I give the ones posted by people in the class I am taking more precedence.
Still while trying to remain critical, if every single person that has had a professor loves them or hates his guts, that is probably a good indication. If not a single person has a nice thing to say, than that is a very large red flag.
ratemyprofessor.com, like many things, is a good resource. If you look past all of the emotions in the comments and look for the substance, the website can be really helpful. However, if you are going to believe every little thing someone posts, then it probably best to just to avoid it altogether.