November 13, 2019 – Past college days are common subjects of reminiscence for most graduates. Many recount their days tinged with negative thoughts and sadness; events, often inflicted by some other. An often-observed underlying cause is the day when someone became the target of some professor, like being chastised for keeping the arms crossed or asking too many questions. This and many more are the reasons that led to the creation of the “Rate my professor” initiative.
Becoming the target of a professor in front of an entire class can be embarrassing at best, humiliating at worst. Some victims tend to simply drop out of that lecture, and occasionally out of school.
College days represent a welcome break from high school days. Now there is freedom in the air, and a pressure to take on responsibilities, like growing up to pay off a student loan in time. It’s the tender age between the brashness of youth and adulthood. But there are also students who say, “I hated college“.
Success in college and getting good grades and ranks is important. But this success depends not just on the student. Another great source of influence is the professor.
The question is thus important to ask: How much influence and power do college professors exercise over the success of their students, and if so, can one choose the good ones and stay away from those who could potentially jeopardize one’s success?
It is easy to choose a college and a course by looking into the subjects, scope of the course, and what one needs for a major or minor. The same kind of inquiry can also be conducted into who is teaching the course, and whether one should, therefore, choose or ignore it. The last consideration is an important one, as studies have revealed that learning success is related to a teacher’s effectiveness.
“Social media is the best example of a public persona that a professor is going to bring into a classroom, so rather than using rate my professor, check out Twitter and find out what a professor is really like,” says Dr. Andrew Selepak of the University of Florida.
However, the students too are responsible for their success or failure to a large extent. Before blaming the professor, there are several things that they should have looked into and incorporated.
Here are a few ways to ensure that the burden of success is shared by the students as well:
1. Participate. Do not melt into the crowd. Participating in discussions can open up new vistas and ideas. Extracurricular activities also carry weight and improve one’s image in the eyes of others.
2. Wear a good attitude. Consider obstacles, irritations, and challenges only as opportunities that test our mettle and make us better. So do not lose temper, but face the situations with a smile.
3. Go beyond the bare minimum. Apply the learning to your life and the world around us. Share insights with the classroom. This will change the way professors look at you.
There are indeed professors who are great, and some who are ineffective. The good ones are knowledgeable, passionate about content, care about students, hold high expectations, and give feedback. Things that do not matter much as far as ratings are concerned are: how jazzy the lectures are, or the scope of the class.
So how does one go about discovering the good lecturers and professors? There are sites such as Rate My Professors, and they offer a host of opinions. One thing to be careful about is the source of these comments and ratings. It should be obvious that ratings form only a small part of the overall picture. They also sway more towards likings rather than how good someone is at the job.
“Every professor I attended was run through www.ratemyprofessors.com, which is the one that everyone goes to. I don’t necessarily trust the rate my professors’ platform, but I used it as a tiebreaker on whether I was going to stay in the course or not,” says William Chin.
Another way to find out if a professor is liked is to go around and ask ex-students or academic advisors. Or consult websites like Rate My Professors or the professor rating section of Uloop for starters.
The feeling of not being liked by a professor could be of one’s own making. One should look back and check if such ill feelings have been a regular part of one’s academic life. Sometimes, there is another factor that plays a role – the teacher or professor might simply be acting tough to help students uncover their potentials.
“I believe it is important to read through ALL reviews. And keep in mind that other students have different “criteria” in which they will rate a professor. I also keep in mind that unless the professor was truly amazing or horrible, many students won’t go on and write about them,” says Lindsey Marx.
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