Which teachers are on the nice list and which ones are on the naughty list? The one way to find out: student evaluations

It is strange how a semester””or time itself””can seem to move past us at an incredible pace while it simultaneously feels slow. I am now a junior in college finishing my fifth semester, with only three more semesters to go until I have to go out and find a job. As I prepare to embrace the big, scary world of adulthood, I recognize that a lot has also happened in my life since entering college. I hesitate to say that I am a different person from who I was in high school, but I have definitely learned a lot since then (multiple programming languages, obscure comic series), experienced many new things (having a job, doing laundry) and met very different types of people (intelligent, interesting and strange people””some having all three qualities). It seems that a lot happened during those few days of Thanksgiving break, yet I hate the fact that I am back in school doing work so soon. All this pontificating about time leads me to my main point: time is just a figment of our imaginations. We are all just a part of The Matrix. Is this real life, or is this just fantasy?

I think the entire paragraph above is a good start to a course evaluation, but it is definitely lacking in some areas. The fiery and spirited existential debate that is constantly raging inside your head between your two imaginary friends needs to be more prominent. It is also imperative to showcase the varied histories of your past lives. This is very important.

Some may say that course evaluations are pointless and a waste of everyone’s time. Some may say that evaluations are important so that the professor (and the department) can better assess how effective their methodologies are. It provides feedback from the people learning””and learning is arguably the whole point of college and school in general. Evaluations could affirm a professor’s good practices and curb bad ones. But some may have had horrible classes where their self-esteem, attention span or GPA were damaged. For those poor souls, the course evaluations are not a way to provide constructive criticisms for those who will come after them. Instead, course evaluations are their last hope””one last chance to satisfy their thirst for petty revenge. This is the time to rise up and gather your keyboards in anger””hands in home row position, ready to let everyone know what you really think (so long as your name is not attached to the message).

Just in case the overt and blatant (and crummy) satire went unnoticed, I would like to note that most professors really take into consideration what is said on course evaluations. I had one professor give out his own (that was still anonymous) course evaluation halfway through the semester to gauge the students’ thoughts on the class. Though it may be difficult when frustrated by an assignment or a grade, it is important to realize that they are just people, too: people who try new things or do well-intentioned things that do not turn out so well. Even in those rare classes where all you want to do is hate the class and the professor, some restraint and thought should always accompany the evaluations””not necessarily due to the possible emotional damage any really harsh criticism might bring; it is just too easy to dismiss valid points and concerns you may bring up when you say one small passive-aggressive thing that detracts from your message.

Just because you don’t have a better idea to fix something, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Really, that isn’t your job. Even if all you have is non-constructive criticism, be sure to be as thorough as possible. Most importantly, do not be an insensitive, rude jerk””anonymity does not give you the right.