Opinions & Editorials

Opinion: Professors graded from one to hot

By Jen Houghton

A friend’s advice can really help when choosing a professor. Now, what if you could even get advice from strangers about a professor before you take a course?

RateMyProfessors.com is a user-generated Web Site where you can get such a grade-salvaging tip. The site, created in 1999 by John Swapceinski of Silicon Valley, boasts listings of over 6,000 schools, one million professors, and eight million opinions.

Users can browse through professors by name, educational department, or rating to find comments and scores posted by former and current students. Professors and teachers are scored in categories of ease, helpfulness, clarity, and even “hotness”, which is noted with a chili pepper icon. Comments accompany most students’ rating and clarify their reason for giving a particular score. City College has 1,122 instructors listed on the Web Site, but not all of them are rated.

In 1997, Ryan Lathouwers, while attending City College, created www.TeacherReview.com, a similar but smaller specifically for City College professors. Several months after the site’s launch, Lathouwers endured a three-year defamation lawsuit from City College instructors who were unhappy with the negative reviews. The suit was eventually settled and the Web Site is still running.

RateMyProfessors.com has yet to experience such a lawsuit, but considering the free speech rights of users on sites such as Yelp.com, it would take more than a few insulted professors to get the site shut down.

Many students cross-reference the City College course catalog with RateMyProfessors.com and use the site as an aide to select courses. Sometimes the advice offered there needs to be taken with a grain of salt, since users are able to post ratings and comments even if they’ve never attended a course by that particular instructor.

I have personally made a mistake when using RateMyProfessors.com to select a humanities course. I chose a professor with an easiness rating of 4.6 out of 5, assuming it would be an effortless A and I would have a carefree semester for once. We covered very little material in class and I was so bored that I only attended one out of three sessions each week.

RateMyProfessors.com couldn’t have been more accurate. I got a B in the course but I feel like I wasted the semester. Now I choose instructors who aren’t rated as easy to ensure I get something out of the class.

If you decide to use RateMyProfessor.com or similar Web sites, be sure to choose professors based on the ratings that suit your desired academic experience. If you want to be stimulated, stay away from easy instructors. But if you want eye candy all semester, zero in on professors with high chili pepper icons.

The Guardsman