Opinion | Nov. 12 11:48 am EST


Registration appointments for spring semester are approaching quickly, which means CULPA is now bookmarked in all of our browsers. But how much should you rely on it to pick your professors?

You often hear the argument that the majority of people who feel compelled to review their professors on CULPA were either extremely dissatisfied or excessively enthusiastic about the instructor. Indeed, according to CULPA, Professor Gulati is either “the most pretentious Columbia professor in modern existence” and “completely overrated” or “the best professor I have ever had,” depending on who you listen to.

Of course, it’s not the outliers that you want to listen to, but the average students (who form the majority of the class), and these students are less likely to comment.

Another reason for this lack of a middle ground is that in order to get attention and make our voice heard, we often express views more extreme than we should.

Everything these days is absolutely incredible and super awesome. I find it difficult to express true praise or admiration when some girl can call her bagel “literally the best thing ever.”

The fact that few professors are merely “good” or “clear,” but more than a few are “THE BEST PROFESSOR AT COLUMBIA,” could be due to this effect. The ability to vote a review to be ‘funny’ only strengthens this tendency. What’s funnier than an outrageous review?

Unfortunately, this polarization largely undermines what CULPA is trying to accomplish.

It is worthwhile to see what CULPA has to say about your professors from last semester to get your CULPA bearings. One of my perfectly average professors was portrayed both as the antichrist and as Mother Teresa on the same page.

Of course, CULPA allows you to weed out the truly terrible professors—they will have the majority of commenters call them the “cruelest and least compassionate person I have met in my life.”

But remember that “it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you.” Sometimes it takes a cruel and authoritarian professor to really get you to study and put in effort. Just because some anonymous joker calls Gulati “the most vile and horrid being since I have encountered since leaving the womb,” does not mean you wouldn’t learn anything in his class.

Jan Leibbrandt is a sophomore who had this like, life-changing bagel for breakfast. It was like, literally the most amazing thing that’s happened to him at Columbia. 




  1. This Guy • November 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm • Reply

    wait, no, where did you get this bagel? Cause like….the same thing happened to me!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
  2. reviewer • November 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm • Reply

    personally ive found that culpa is always helpful. obviously you read between the lines and take vitriolic or overly gushing reviews with a grain of salt. but i read looking for common factors, for amounts of work given, to see if it sounds interesting and worth taking. every time i have ignored a bad feeling i had from culpa and took the class anyway, i regretted it. culpa is (nearly) always wise.

    Also, if you dont like some of the reviews, write your own that are better! whenever i take a class that has no or bad reviews, i try to leave one myself, including a lot more information about the class, and try to keep it neutral and describe it so people can decide for themselves. Have done at least 3 or 4. Do your part, don’t just complain!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
  3. CC '15 • November 13, 2012 at 12:00 am • Reply

    agree w/ ‘reviewer’ above — everyone has already made these arguments time and time again that reviews are polarized (plus this post is just hating on exaggerations, like.. unnecessary); thus, everyone should be well aware of this fact and “take the reviews with a grain of salt” etc. etc., but if a professor is completely awful, culpa helps. same if a prof is really great. i don’t care about gulati’s ego, as long as he’s keeping me up and engaged at 9 am. personally, for gulati at least, i think the overwhelming majority of his reviews agree he’s great. they just differ on whether or not it’s worth a lower grade.

    on another note, i leave reviews for every prof i take (and the TAs, when relevant, esp with english/history courses w/ section), even if i thought the class was just mediocre. other people should too!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)
  4. Anonymous • November 13, 2012 at 6:53 am • Reply

    alright Jan nice article brah!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: -3 (from 3 votes)
  5. Anonymous • November 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm • Reply

    trite post is trite…

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Leave a Comment

Be nice. Don't use HTML tags. And consider reading our full comment policy.