Ratemyprofessors.com – Case Study

What is Rate My Professors?

Ratemyprofessors.com (RMP) is an online database that collects and posts student reviews of university and college professors across the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. Students logon to submit reviews ratings about their professors and schools. They also use the database as a tool for deciding what courses to take and which professors to avoid.

The rating scale spans from one to five, with five being the highest and one being the lowest. Metrics that students can rate on include the level of difficulty of the professor, whether they would take the professor again, whether the class was taken for credit, and whether attendance was mandatory, along with the overall rating of the professor. Prior to 2018, the site also had an infamous chili rating where students rated the level of attractiveness of the professor.

Rate My Professors is arguably the authority in professor rating websites, with over 8000 schools and 1.8 million professors rated across 20 million ratings. They receive an estimated 9 million viewers monthly and generates approximately $3.4 million annually in revenues.

While students are the dominant customer, professors have also used the site to comb through honest and often blunt feedback. The site’s competitors pale in comparison as many students have never even heard of their competitors, such as ratemyteacher.com and cappex.com.

History of Rate My Professors

Rate My Professors was started in Menlo Park, California by software engineer, John Swapceinski in 1999. The original website was called TeacheRatings.com but Swapceinski changed the name in 2001. As one of the few survivors of the rise and fall of the dot com era, Rate My Professors made it past the bubble burst and the site was sold to Patrick Nagle and William DeSantis in 2005 and then onto Viacom’s MTVU in 2007. In 2018, internet content and media company Cheddar acquired Rate My Professors for an undisclosed amount.

Rate My Professors’ Business Proposition for Cheddar

Cheddar had been knocking at Viacom’s door to buy Rate My Professors before it was finally able to close the deal in late 2018. The internet media company, dubbed as the CNBC but for a younger demographic, had purchased MTVU from Viacom in May of the same year. Their persistence for Rate My Professors is centered on the website being a strategic fit for Cheddar’s target audience. Furthermore, Cheddar founder and CEO, John Steinberg, wanted to diversify the company’s revenue sources and move into direct-to-consumer.

Post acquisition, Cheddar rehauled the Rate My Professor website and had announced plans to provide educators with online tools that would be “similar to those offered to employers by Glassdoor.” This would compliment the website’s existing revenue streams, which is predominantly advertising.

Rate My Professors Fun Facts

Rate My Professor puts out an annual “Highest Rated” lists that includes highest rated professors and schools. Some interesting tidbits from the rankings in the last few years:

  • University of Wisconsin – Madison consistently places in the top 10 for Highest Ranked University for the last 3 surveys available
  • University of Southern California is the only West Coast university to place in the top 10 list in the latest 2017-2018 survey; in fact, despite the great weather, the top 10 schools rated as the Highest Rated Universities are predominantly everything but west coast schools
  • Criminal Justice Professor Douglas Klutz from the University of Alabama holds the reigning title for the Highest Rated University Professor, winning first place for 2016 through to 2018; he climbed from #8 in 2015-2016 ranking and is the only professor in recent years to win the title back to back
  • University of Alabama at one point had the highest paid college football coach, Nick Saban, at $8.30 million per year. As a public university, this arguably makes him the highest paid state employee. He was dethroned by Clemson University’s Dabo Swinney, who signed a 10-year $93 million dollar in April 2019
  • Despite Vanderbilt University’s reputation for being well balanced, winning first place in the latest 2017-2018 ranking, this didn’t stop former US Vice President Al-Gore from dropping out, twice!
  • Virginia Tech was noted as the university with the best campus eats for 2017-2018
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