Professor in actionWhen it comes to educating yourself at an accredited university, students are met with literally hundreds of thousands of colleges and training programs to choose from. There are new universities and training programs popping up all the time, and they all claim to offer the best value for your time, money, and effort. Tuition costs are rising steadily, and as a result, it’s getting harder and harder to get your money’s worth from higher education.

Sifting through this overwhelming array of choices and finding the perfect program for you can be nearly as difficult as actually completing the work itself. Every college will try to persuade you that their program is ideal for your needs and aspirations, and there’s very little objective, unbiased comparative information to help with such a difficult decision.

Narrowing Your Choices With Limited Information

Even if you can narrow your choices down to a single college or university, you’re then met with yet another vast variety of choices consisting of majors, minors, training programs, certificates, and courses to choose from. Having little basis to compare these programs, students often have no choice but to base these life-altering decisions on, “hunches,” “vibes,” or trivial differences between them. As crazy as it may seem, even smart, diligent students have to take their chances and commit several years and thousands of dollars to a program based on very little information.

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That’s why resources like RateMyProfessors.com can be indescribably valuable in helping students choose colleges, majors, minors, and courses based on millions of reviews from their peers. Students from over 7,500 colleges and universities rank their courses and their professors based on their own experiences, and younger students can use these reviews to compare colleges, professors, and they courses that they offer.

RateMyProfessors.com is not for lazy students seeking easier classes and laid-back professors. While each review contains a rating of “easiness” for each professor, they also contain ratings for helpfulness, clarity, and even a rating for rater interest to provide an idea of how enthused the rater was by the course material itself. Obviously, a person who is fascinated by computer science will leave a more favorable review of a robotics course than someone who hates programming and can’t stand computers, so the rater interest metric is quite helpful when comparing professors and courses.

Screenshot of professor ratings from RateMyProfessors

RateMyProfessors.com lets students rate their teachers on a variety of carefully-chosen criteria

RateMyProfessors.com has aggregated these 13 million ratings to create lists like “Highest Rated Professors” and “Top Schools.” These lists are rarely in alignment with the US News & World Report’s annual list of top colleges, most likely because while US News & World Report’s findings are based on broad, macro-level data like admission rate, graduation rate, and average classroom size. RateMyProfessors bases their rankings on individual student experiences, which are arguably far more relevant and helpful when faced with the difficult choices of choosing an educational path.

When we’re choosing a restaurant, a car dealership, or a babysitter, we rarely look at “big picture,” macro-level data. We’re far more likely to look for individual experiences like restaurant reviews, dealership experiences, or babysitter referrals. These more personal recommendations are apparently far more meaningful and influential, suggesting that RateMyProfessors.com’s reviews should be just as influential on your college decision-making process as any other information. If your next professor has reliably good ratings, you should enter his or her course with confidence. On the other hand, if your next class has dismal reviews, you might want to save yourself a lot of frustration and find a different course to meet your requirements and ambitions.

Making The Most of Your Education Takes More Than Good Grades

A smart student will study diligently, prepare well for tests and earn a good grade. An even smarter student will plan ahead, seek out the best professors, avoid unworthy classes, and make the most of their education by studying not only the course materials, but the courses themselves. This will almost certainly lead to a more thorough education and a happier, more talented graduate.

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