By Julia Guest
Who’s your best buddy?
Some might say it’s someone who knows who the “easiest” professors are. It’s spring quarter enrollment season and students are seeking that friend.
TheCampusBuddy.com is a new website that includes grade distributions and teacher ratings from classes taken by students at many public California colleges.
Students are now using the website to decide which classes to take based on grade statistics and teacher reviews.
Austin Sos, a second-year environmental studies major and brother of Brandon Sos, one of the website’s founders, is enthusiastic about the website’s options, finding the grade distributions beneficial for his future course decisions.
“Campus Buddy gives you a heads-up to show you how hard a professor grades,” he said. “If the professor gives less than 5 percent of his students A’s, I don’t necessarily want to take the class because it’ll lower my GPA.”
Campus Buddy allows students the opportunity to make informed decisions about classes they choose to take. Fewer A’s than B’s could sway a student’s decision to take a course, and poor comments about professors may mean choosing an “easier” grader in a class a student might be less interested in.
Sos worries most about general education courses and primarily uses the website to check grades for those classes.
While Sos praises the long-awaited creation of a website like Campus Buddy, many administrators and professors at UCSC foresee a perpetual fear of grades and a separation from the joy of learning.
“I would hope the emphasis is on what you’ll learn in a subject, as opposed to the letter grade,” said Angela Elsey, a lecturer in French at UCSC. “It was a sad day when we came to the day of using letter grades. Students are less willing to take a class just because they’re interested in it.”
However, many students feel that their GPA is all that matters in college. Students applying to graduate school or searching for jobs now understand the weight of the GPA.
As the first information on a résumé, it is the first thing that a potential employer will see.
UCLA graduates Brandon Sos and Mike Moradi created the website only weeks ago. Brandon says he came up with the idea in college when frustrated by certain grades and professors for his general education courses.
Brandon recognizes, however, the importance of general education courses for students exploring their interests in college.
“A good or bad professor or course may greatly influence which interests a student will pursue in the future,” he said. “Though interests shouldn’t be determined by a professor, sometimes that is the case.”
The grades posted are official. Brandon and Moradi received the grades from the 44 California colleges on the website.
Brandon said retrieving the school grades was a long and difficult process. He and Moradi spoke to many administrators, some of whom were difficult to contact.
After two years of hard work, however, the website is up and ready for service. After promotional ads, events, and Facebook groups, students are creating accounts and spreading the word to their friends.
RateMyProfessors.com is a popular website for teacher ratings, although it does not post grade distributions or include the “compare” feature, which allows students to match professors, departments, and courses.
Considering the website is fairly new, Campus Buddy does not list all new classes and not all professor ratings are posted.
Brandon and Moradi plan to add more California colleges to the 44 schools and 13 million grades now available.
Stacey Sketo-Rosener, academic advising coordinator at UCSC, said the website promotes a greater emphasis on grades and less on education. Although challenging classes may mean lower grades, students should focus more on what they learn from a class, Sketo-Rosener said.
“When I was in college, the classes I gained most from were not necessarily the ones I got the highest grades in,” she said.
Sketo-Rosener worked as an academic advisor and preceptor on campus for more than 10 years. When students voiced concerns about class grades in advising sessions, she didn’t always suggest not taking those courses.
“A lot of times students will need to take classes that they’re not going to get an A in and I think that’s OK,” she said. “What they take away from that class is more important.”