Kruzic: Don’t let Princeton Review professor ratings fool you

Ahna Kruzic

In a recent release by the “Princeton Review,” ISU students have reportedly given our professors one of the lowest ratings in the nation. The report, based on the surveying of more than 122,000 students, has ranked Iowa State number 10 on the list of schools where professors “get low marks.” Also in the top 10 are schools with relatively tough reputations such as United States Merchant Marine Academy and Rutgers.

I’ll be the first to say I’ve had several negative experiences with professors at Iowa State — ranging anywhere from the professor who used “rape” as a verb unrelated to its meaning in lecture, to the professor who let us out of lecture five minutes late nearly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It can be safely assumed that my peers have had similar experiences with faculty and consequently share the same perspective; some professors simply aren’t the best instructors.

Regardless of the few negative experiences I’ve shared with professors, I’d like to point out the ridiculous nature of Iowa State claiming the number 10 spot for lowest student rankings of professors in the nation.

During my time at Iowa State in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, I have had the privilege of meeting incredibly inspiring faculty and staff. The willingness of professors and other mentors on campus to go out of their way to enhance my learning experience has been immense. On a regular basis, I interact with professors that take time after class to explain topics I don’t understand, invite me to office hours to further discuss a topic of interest, offer extracurricular opportunities to enhance my educational experience (and chances at getting into a great grad school), inquire about my plans for graduate school, allow me to vent about my frustrations regarding the current political and social situation — and offer tools on what I can do to change it.

Though I know not every student has this level of connection to professors, I’ve found all it takes is effort on the student’s part. Faculty are incredibly passionate about what they study (why else would they earn doctorates and choose to enter a less-than-profitable career?); and instructors easily see hundreds of students a day, many of them extremely disengaged and apathetic about a topic that has been a life-long passion. Many of these individuals spend their lives convincing students, peer review boards and grant foundations that what they have dedicated their lives to actually matters. Show a bit of interest and they are bound to get excited.

In my own experiences as a student at Iowa State, when I take the initiative on something that truly interests me, professors nearly faint from sheer excitement. They want to listen to you. They want to add to your knowledge base, as well as grow themselves from understanding your perspective. I’ve had outstanding experiences that I’ll value the entirety of my life thanks to faculty and staff in the department of sociology, department of women’s studies, Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and other LAS mentors housed in Catt Hall.

Iowa State may have made the number 10 spot for Princeton Review’s student ratings of professors that “get low marks,” but I don’t believe this is an accurate reflection of our faculty and staff population. Perhaps this rating echoes the fact that students should find what they are truly passionate about and get excited about it. Choose a major and coursework that truly captivates you — not one that will just “make you a lot of money.” I can promise you the success will follow when you find a passion.

As soon as we students get excited about and truly value our educations and the experiences we have while we’re here, faculty and staff at Iowa State will undoubtedly enhance the experience and support us every step of the way.