Rate My Professor aids in student choices

One professor in the mathematics department “doesn’t care about her students,” is “always there to help” and is “very smiley and sweet.” At least that’s what her reviews on RateMyProfessors.com said.

RMP was founded in May 1991 by John Swapceinski, a software engineer from San Francisco. The site was later sold to Cheddar, a financial news network, in 2018. 

Universities can also be rated on RMP. Kent State has earned an overall rating of 3.9 out of 5. The site allows students to rate a professor based on their overall score and difficulty. Students also have the option to choose three statements that describe the class from a provided list and leave an anonymous comment about their overall experience. 

Students can use RMP to find professors who will help them succeed, said Emily Brown, a senior integrated mathematics major.

“There’s a lot of professors that just aren’t up to par on how good their class goes and how seriously they take it. I like to make sure that I’m with the right professor that’s going to make me successful,” Brown said. 

RMP has ratings for all levels of Kent State classes. One student used RMP for her Kent Core classes. 

“At this point, I can’t really choose my professors because of my class standing. But for all my Kent Core, I would go to rate my professor,” said Abby Wynkoop, a senior early childhood education major. 

When it comes to choosing a professor, Bailey Downin, a junior interior design major, pays close attention to the ratings a professor has. 

“All the reviews I’ve read have been pretty accurate, if a professor has a rating below a three, I won’t take that professor,” Downin said. 

While RMP is meant for students, professors can use the platform and engage with students by adding photos or links and receiving notifications when they receive a new rating. 

“I’m scared to look at my ratings because of the negativity that’s on the website,” said Kiwon Lee, professor of hospitality management with an overall rating of 5 out of 5.  

The site tends to have two kinds of comments, said Jon Secaur, a physics professor who has an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5. Comments are from students who really liked the professor or really disliked the professor, Secaur said. 

“The site just seems like a place for gossip,” Lee said.  

While RMP asks students to publish their honest thoughts on a course to help others when choosing a class, sometimes reviews can be misleading. 

“I took an online class this summer, and the professor had really good reviews,” Downin said. “Everyone said that he was so helpful, but then I emailed him a question he said to look in the book.” 

On RMP, students can leave reviews for professors who teach courses online and in person. 

“All of the reviews were from students who had the professor in person, so they weren’t accurate for his online class,” Downin said. 

“I think it’s 80 percent good,” Brown said. “I think 20 percent of people jump on and just are really critical about teachers that really aren’t that bad.” 

Brown has seen people comment on a professor because they received a poor grade in a class.

“They’re blaming them, so students go on to take a hit at a professor,” Brown said. 

Besides leaving numerical ratings, Brown has never left a review on RMP. 

“Everything I wanted to say was already covered in the reviews, so I just went with the numbers because that seemed like enough,” Brown said. 

The site monitors the reviews and will remove them if they go against the terms and conditions

“We are unable to remove a comment simply because it is negative. It will only be removed if it doesn’t comply with our site guidelines,” RMP writes in the terms and conditions. 

Lawrence Marks, a professor in the College of Business Administration, shows his reviews in his first class of the semester to show students what they can expect from the course. Marks has an overall RMP rating of 3.8 out of 5. 

“You want to know if you’re not willing to do those things. I’m all for (Rate My Professor),” Marks said. 

Much like course evaluations, the more reviews the professor receives, the potentially more helpful they can be. 

“The more input students get about professors, the better,” Secaur said.  

The comments on RMP are limited to only 350 characters. Kent State’s course evaluations are designed to get more specific comments, but are not available to the public. 

“I have a lot of trust in these reviews (on Rate My Professor),” Wynkoop said. “People tend to be a little more vocal about their thoughts since the reviews are anonymous.” 

Contact Katie Thompson at [email protected].