Professor-ranking website major factor in class schedules

Sophomore Jerry Hills started using the popular website,, when he was a freshman.

“I had a few friends let me know what it was all about, and I thought it was really interesting to see how others thought my professors were like,” Hills said.

And the website affected his choice in classes throughout last year.

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“I have even switched my professors a couple of times based on their ratings,” he said.

St. Thomas’ highest rated professor, art history professor Victoria Young, has a perfect score of five out of five and her score is based on eight reviews. Out of the 890 St. Thomas professors listed on the website, Young’s overall quality rating is well above the average 3.36 rating.

“It’s fun because this is what I do, and I love doing it,” Young said. “I guess it’s like people who win Academy Awards. … I’m so happy to have it, but I’m fine without it.”

Young said she thinks is a useful and practical tool for selecting a professor.

“It’s like when I go traveling and book a hotel,” Young said. “First, I always read reviews about people who have stayed there. It doesn’t always give you the best answer or the most complete answer, but it does provide a way for people to know what’s going on out there.”

Though Young sits at the top of St. Thomas faculty on, she said some of the negative reviews professors receive are not always 100 percent accurate.

“I think some of it might be discipline driven – not discipline in the sense of hard work, but as in chemistry versus art history,” Young said. “I know I was always bad at science, and I think sometimes if you’re bad at science but you need to take it, people can tend to blame others for problems.”

St. Thomas does not use in any official capacity, according to Michael Jordan, director of undergraduate academic affairs.

“We pay no attention to it,” Jordan said. “We don’t regard it as a valid source of evaluative information about faculty. We have a very carefully designed system that we operate, and regard as certainly unscientific.”

But nonetheless, some students use the website to select professors who they believe will be a good fit for class.

“‘Rate My Professor’ is a good way to get a feel for professors before you sign up for their class,” said junior Mollie McCourt. “It helps with finding a professor that fits your style.”

Ryan Shaver can be reached at

14 Replies to “Professor-ranking website major factor in class schedules”

  1. Student opinion does matter- but that’s why we have student reports on teaching evaluation forms. The people who are most likely to leave a review on Rate My Professors are folks who were either extremely happy, or extremely unhappy with a class, whereas (theoretically) everyone in a course fills out a SROT form.

    I’ve taken classes where Rate My Professor ratings were right on, and other times where (I’ve felt) it’s been completely off.

  2. I love RateMyProfessors and use it for all my class scheduling — but it would not be a good tool to include in objective, comprehensive teacher evaluation scores.  Heck, even *I* ignore the actual scores on RMP.  I just read the comments, because those make it immediately obvious who the bad eggs are, and are the only useful way to get a picture of who the prof is and how thon operates.

    Victoria Young *is* a great professor.  I had her for intro to art history two springs ago.  Congrats, Prof. Young.

  3. Kathryn, for once I actually agree with you on a topic! I, too, have never trusted, for pretty much the same reasons you expressed.

  4. Mr. Ormseth, I respect your opinion, but from my experience, fails more often than it works.

  5. What experience is that, Mike? Can you give some examples?

    I mean, I used RMP to pick Drs. Coulter and Jarvis for my classes. Both were great teachers, and that was reflected very well by the comments. The scores were *not* very helpful, but I would have missed two wonderful professors if not for RateMyProfessors.

    So I’m very curious to hear more about what RMP did to you. :-P

  6. James, I can give an example- I’ve had two experiences where the comments said not to take a particular professorif you weren’t Catholic. The comments said the professors in question are biased against non-Catholic students. One of the courses, I originally planned on taking a different course from a different professor, but that was cancelled so I didn’t have another option. The other case, I didn’t look at the ratings until I went to rate the professor myself. Turns out, both professors and I got along wonderfully (I still regularly speak with both of them) and their courses were some of the best I took at UST. Of course, we regularly disagree- but I found it made for interesting discussion rather than bias.

  7. What experience is that, Mike? Can you give some examples?

    Certainly. Dr. Verhoeven was one of my favorite professors in the Biology Department, and I learned a ton from her, but she gets an unjustifiably negative rating on Also, I think Dr. Hollerich in the Theology department is a good professor, and I had him for Theo 101, but he gets a very low rating on
    However, I’m a pretty old-fashioned kind of guy, and although I like blogs, I agree with Betty White that social networking websites like Facebook are a waste of time, and I’m very cynical about a lot of the new technology coming out. I think that there are good things about the internet, but I trust the recommendations of my friends and the people they know much more than the recommendation someone I don’t know made on a website under a pseudonym, but that’s just me, and I understand completely where you’re coming from.

  8. Michael, for someone who’s so cynical about technology, you sure spend a whole lot of time cruising your alumni’s news website…

  9. @Kathryn and Mike: Okay, fair enough. I see your point(s). I’m still going to use RMP, because it has been hugely beneficial to me, but with an added grain of salt.

    Although, Mike, it’d be well worth looking deeper into Prof. Verhoeven’s RMP scores and reading the comments. A lot of the negative votes accidentally say things that make her look very, very good. Like the one who wrote, “I’m sure she’s fine as a person but she’s much mor einto her family than her job and responsibilities as a teacher.” Or, “she’s an awesome person although he enthusiasm for plants sometimes takes over in her lecture.” I would definitely take her, and BECAUSE OF her RMP scores, not despite them.

  10. Stefan, I like the internet, and I like blogs and online news sites, but a lot of the gadgets and social networking sites out there I feel are a huge waste of time.

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