A good or bad professor really can make or break your semester. If it’s impossible for you to get a good grade or their teaching style doesn’t match your learning style, you risk either having to drop the course to save your GPA (which may happen before or after the withdraw period, forcing you to either extend the time you spend at school or cough up the money for a course that just didn’t work out,) or paying to take the course over again.
You should be a good student. You shouldn’t be trying to dodge work. You should learn to learn from different people and not expect that you automatically deserve an “A.” But there are some times when you and a professor just won’t mesh. For example, I had an amazing professor one semester, but she had an extremely strict attendance policy. Most of your grade was showing up and participating as most of the learning that went on was discussion based. And you know what? I learned so much and even retained it. But if I had taken that course during one of the semesters I gave birth, I would have been screwed. For those semesters I needed classes that would allow me to do work from home. I can study a book. I can read e-mails. I can master material. But an attendance-based grade wouldn’t work for me.
I also don’t learn well from professors who aren’t organized. I’m very serious about my studies, but if the professor is scatter-brained or can’t tell me when due dates are, I’m setting myself up for failure. I don’t need someone to hold my hand, but I do need someone who’s going to give me a little bit of direction.
So far at school I’ve had one horrible professor. It was one of those classes where you didn’t have much of a choice in who your instructor was. The rest have been absolutely phenomenal. I’ve scheduled them according to reviews I’ve found on Rate My Professors. Good reviews are generally easy to find, but I’ve found that you have to be careful about the negative ones. Because sometimes the students are just upset they didn’t pass by sleeping through class.
Discerning Between Negative Reviews vs. Stupid Reviews
This is a stupid review. Here’s why:
- You’re in college. You’re going to have to write papers. Unless it’s a 10-pager everyday (which I doubt,) you need to grow up if you want to get any smarter.
- Wake up in time to get to your class, please. It’s disruptive and rude to show up late. Dialogue with your professors if it’s a problem with childcare or work or something. If they’re unwilling to budge on their policies, make sure you’ve asked on the first day of class so you have plenty of time to switch things up before you get too far into the semester. Or heck, try emailing them before the semester even starts.
- If you showed up on time, you probably wouldn’t be falling behind. That’s not a poor reflection on the professor. It’s a poor reflection on you.
- You can tell the student was actually interested in learning.
- The reviewer doesn’t bash the professor’s character.
- The reviewer listed qualities that kept them from learning like the lack of focus.
My Experience with the Unknown
I go to a school with a lot of adjunct faculty. So a lot of professors aren’t listed. Or at least aren’t listed under my college. I’ll try to check under other schools, but if I still can’t find them, I’ve picked the unknown over the ones who get negative reviews. And in my experience, they’ve all been wonderful. It hasn’t been any of their first times teaching, so that’s never been the reason why they’re not listed. My theory is that people tend to want to vent opinions when they’ve had a negative experience, so full-time or bad professors are a lot more likely to have information available about them. So if you have a good adjunct professor, students may not feel inclined to join the website just to review them. I know I sure haven’t.
What do you think of websites that rate professors? Are you a student or a professor yourself? Do you agree that there is a difference between stupid and negative reviews?