Why students should grade their teachers

Caleb Baird

Have you ever been enrolled in a class where you feel lost in a sea of information? You often sit zoned-out, frustrated and confused, wishing that any other professor was in front of the room teaching. 

It’s hard to know what you are getting into, and before you know it, the drop deadline passes by like a flash. Sometimes we resort to checking websites such as “Rate My Professors,” but even that’s not entirely accurate. The professor might not even be listed, or there might be little feedback about their teaching style and personality. 

There is not enough information available to students when it comes to seeking out our professors. So, what if we had a grading scale, just as our professors keep on us? That way, we would know what we are signing up for before it is too late. 

Imagine if every class that was offered for enrollment had a detailed account of the prospective professor attached. It could be broken down into categories such as organization, willingness to help, clarity, teaching approach, exam formats, attendance policy and other topics.

This way, students would have the opportunity to make educated decisions on which course best suits their learning needs.  After all, we are the ones who sit in their class all semester. We would be able to approach the class with a better understanding of what is expected of us even before registering, and it would greatly benefit us in the long run. 

The vast majority of professors are well-versed in the subjects they teach and are great at understanding that all students learn very differently. However, there is always an occasional professor with whom you just don’t vibe, to whom you have a difficult time adapting or who is unwilling to provide any extra assistance. In addition, I believe professors have little accountability when it comes to their ethics and teaching techniques. And no one would have a better perspective on this than previous students who have experienced that environment firsthand. 

The challenge is, we feel too intimidated to speak up or report anything. If the process were done entirely online and anonymously, we would be much more likely to share our thoughts, especially if we could help out our fellow students. Student evaluations, which are done at the end of the semester, give us a chance to express our opinions, but we never get to see the results ourselves. 

A grading scale would be incredibly useful when used ahead of time to give students the opportunity to choose the best fit for them. I’m not saying that we should have pages upon pages smearing a professor’s name; they don’t grade us that way, and it would be counterintuitive to the overall educational process. But a detailed and organized outline on the professor and class could prove to be really useful.

We deserve the chance to take a more thorough approach to class selections, as we are paying a ton of money to be at the university to begin with. It can take students a decade or more to pay off their student loans, and some students work three jobs just to put themselves through school. I think it’s only fair that we are picky when it comes to who is teaching us.