For those who have one or more college freshpersons (frosh) in the family, Rose-Helen Graham has written an interesting piece about how a student can best organize their course work to facilitate their collegiate goals. As one would expect, it helps to have a goal worked out before the college course work commences, or soon thereafter. Here’s an excerpt, in which she describes her use of online sources that provide detailed information, not only about the courses, but about the competence of the various professors and their grade distribution patterns:
… Each provides feedback from previous students on individual professors and the classes they teach. Each delivers the content in a slightly different manner, and some sites include additional tools designed to promote student “success.” My go-to source for student-written evaluations is Rate My Professors; however, I do use UNC Blinkness and Koofers as comparative sources if I feel that I need further reviews.
Rate My Professors: The [RTM] site is easy to navigate. To get started one only needs to select the state and school of interest. From there it becomes as simple as searching by the professor’s last name or department to access comments and ratings left by other users. [The site] uses a numerical rating system (1-5, one being the lowest and 5 being the highest) to rate professors on overall quality, helpfulness, clarity, easiness, and even “hotness.” These ratings are accompanied by reviewers’ comments about specific courses. I enjoy this site because the content is displayed in an extremely user-friendly layout. Because Rate My Professors is one of the more well-known professor review sites, has multiple ratings on most professors, making it easy to compare student experiences and discern serious reviews from those which are pointless.
UNC Blinkness: This site is less easy to read. It can be useful in the few instances when Rate My Professors does not provide enough (or good enough) reviews on a professor. Other useful features provided by Blinkness include average class size and the “overall grading history” of each course. The overall grading history is displayed by a grade distribution chart, which purports to give the percentage of each letter grade given by that professor. Going a step further, Blinkness also provides students with a list entitled “Most A’s Classes at UNC.” This list details the course name, percentage of As given in the past for that course, and the average class size. The list currently contains 195 courses, with the percentage of As being at least 95 percent.
Koofers (UNC): The reviews on Koofers are also a helpful supplement to those provided on Rate My Professor. In addition to general comments on courses and professors, it provides details on grade distribution, the difficulty and number of exams, quizzes, projects, and homework assigned, as well as any textbooks used and whether or not the professor chooses to curve final grades.
The fourth site I use is MyEdu: MyEdu is a wonderful tool when it comes to planning class schedules. I can create a calendar that allows me to see if the classes I want fit into my schedule and make changes if they don’t. It also provides the average GPA grade that previous students received from the course. After a student creates a schedule on MyEdu, the website automatically generates an estimated average overall semester GPA based on the data collected from previous years.
Ms. Graham’s article contains other interesting material on how to balance college course work to gain the most from the time spent getting a college education. The full article is HERE.