Students now must pay to ‘Pick-A-Prof’ on Web site

13 years ago Comments Off on Students now must pay to ‘Pick-A-Prof’ on Web site

Pick-A-Prof offers students a way to check out their professors before they sign up for classes. Formerly free for SHSU students, it is now a pay site.

Karen Bragg, director of university relations for Pick-a-Prof, said sometimes student government gets involved to make it free for students, but the costs of maintaining the site must be covered.

The statistics students find include a percentage of letter grades given and how many students have dropped the class. The “number of students” statistic shows how many students the teacher has taught since being reviewed by Pick-A-Prof.

The reviews tell students about the teacher’s style, how often he/she take attendance, if a curve is offered and hints for getting better grades. Reviews are posted under a user name.

Freshman Brittani Morris used the site once and used the statistics to pick all of her professors but said the comments were “not that helpful.” There are teachers who have had contact with over 2,000 students but have fewer than 20 reviews.

Randy Murray, a biology major, has used the site every semester since 2002 to find the “best teachers.”

“I went on there to check out the teachers and do some reviews, but now that it’s a pay site, I won’t use it,” he said. He doesn’t want to pay for the service because he said it will be a hassle and would like the university to include it in tuition costs.

Dr. Bill Fleming, who works at the Student Advising and Mentoring (SAM) Center, said he does not advise students to use the site. “Anybody can write anything they want to on there– even people who don’t go to school here,” he said. “How can you trust it? Nobody signs their name.” He said that the subject rarely comes up during advisement because students who see him are more concerned with scheduling.

Teacher reviews seem fairly consistent on the site. Most reviews are positive, noting that the class is hard, but the students feel satisfied that they learned a lot. Most students comment on curves, attendance and lecture style. Enthusiasm is important. Common complaints are boredom and inaccessibility or trouble understanding what the teacher says.

Bragg said professors can still sign on for free and read their comments. They can even use the service to give an online review. It can include their own questions or a set of questions made up by Pick-A-Prof. Students do not have to pay to do a professor-initiated review.

“They expect college students to use it, but college students are poor,” said Kara Sopchak. She used the site for the fall and spring semesters but will also stop now that it is for paying customers only. “There’s not going to be as many reviews now,” she said. “So it’s not going to be as trustworthy.”

Bragg said that she has no concerns about the accuracy of the comments on the site, even with the new paying policy. “Other schools have not has any problems with fewer users,” she said, adding that a year after making the University of Texas pay for the service, there has been no decline in usage.

Pick-A-Prof cooperates with 71 universities and is located at www.pickaprof.com. The site is unable to offer access to more than one university per membership, and fees range from $5 for one semester (summer is included with fall) up to $40 for 5 years.