Revenge of the Profs

Do you know about Rate My Professors dot com? If you don’t, you may want to spend a little time doing some research there. Of course, this information may be most valuable for those of you recent high school graduates who are heading to college this fall. Let’s say that you have enrolled at Penn State University-University Park and are going to major in business. This is where Rate My Professors (RMP) can be a helpful resource.

For example, go to RMP’s home page and select PSU-UP. Then, select the Business department from the drop-down menu up top. This will give you a compilation of all the professors listed from PSU’s Business department. Next, scan the left-hand margin for smiley- or frown-face symbols. These give you a quick glimpse of the overall mood of student comments about a certain professor. I did a quick review of PSU’s biz profs and found one with a frown face: Terry Margolis (whom I do not know and have never heard of before today}. Here are three non-smiley comments from Margolis’ students:

-Didn’t like the class. Barely passed. The best thing to do is memorize that packet with the powerpoints. That’s the only way you will pass but he does not round up grades or give a curve.

-Had him for BA 304 and BA 242. Both classes are identical, just a man up front reading powerpoint slides. There really is no actual learning that occurs in the class so don’t bother going. Get nittany notes but he tests on the most random things. Has mandatory out of class activities that are stupid and unrelated (watching a movie about pirates?)

-Lectures are extremely boring, he reads right from the powerpoint. As others said it is hard to get an A his tests are extremely difficult and opinionated.

Granted, these comments may have been inspired by some event (or events) that have no basis in reality regarding Prof. Margolis’ professional acumen. However, there are (at this writing) over 70 comments about his classroom work.

The caveat about reading these comments has to be that they are extremely subjective and, as I mentioned, some students may have a personal grudge to grind toward Prof. M (and all the others on this site). However, the point I’m trying to make is that you may be able to get a heads-up about a certain professor in a certain course that you’re going to schedule this fall or in coming semesters or years and maintain or alter your course selection accordingly.

Now, the really interesting point of what I’m writing here (yes, Virginia, there is a point and it may even be interesting) is that a very cool part of the RMP site is Professors Strike Back.

While I was reading through a number of RMP’s student comments, I kept wondering what these academics thought of what was being said about them. Then I discovered Professors Strike Back. This section of the RMP site puts things into balance. Here’s what I mean.

RMP notes:

You wrote in comments, and these professors are having the last word. Check out some of the most colorful responses from our favorite “Professors Strike Back” episodes. And don’t forget, you can tweet your own profs’ most quotatious moments using the hashtag, #thingsmyprofessorsays. We’ll retweet the best ones.

Watch the clips! You wrote in comments, and these professors are having the last word. Check out some of the most colorful responses from our favorite “Professors Strike Back” episodes. And don’t forget, you can tweet your own profs’ most quotatious moments using the hashtag, #thingsmyprofessorsays. We’ll retweet the best ones.

Here are a few highlights of professors striking back at the comments posted on RMP:

– “Everybody in America, every man-Jack and woman-Jill, knows that mtvU is responsible for Watergate, and for tupperware parties, and for zoning hearings… Ratemyprofessors.com is responsible for Croc shoes, the hula hoop, Liberace, and the decline of The New York Post. Okay? And when these two powerful, secret, completely malicious organizations get together, why, they produce the mind boggles.”

– “Your parents should have slapped you around when you were younger.”

– “I don’t think that anyone who’s cruel and mean and not nice at all would ever bail out his mother as many times as I have.”

– “I practically dropped out of high school. I don’t care about grades.”

– “I only kicked over one desk that semester, because it was in my way and no one was hurt. And a little violence during class actually keeps everyone awake – gets the adrenaline running.”

The great part about these profs strike-back comments is that they deliver them on camera. Thus, you get to see all their accompanying body language, both positive and negative. Trust me; sometimes the comments seem to paint an entirely different picture of the prof who appears on camera. That may well be the case for maligned professor Margolis, mentioned above.

In any case, there you have it. RMP is a tool that comes with cautions. Don’t take it as 100% gospel. However, the old saying about a thousand Frenchmen not being wrong looms over these opinions. If a certain professor has dozens of negative comments, you may want to approach taking a course with him or her carefully. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.