What to write in end-of-semester evaluations

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Classes are ending, which means it’s time to fill out those beastly end-of-semester evaluations. Despite always happening about the same time every year, they still manage to catch us off guard, leaving us with only 10 minutes to frantically brainstorm a paragraph that somehow encapsulates our entire range of emotions about a single class. What do you say about a professor you admire so much that he or she literally embodies all your aspirations for the future? What do you say about a professor who is so utterly lacking in charisma that it is more interesting to watch a Border Collie take a dump on Memorial Glade than to watch one of his or her lectures?

1. Don’t let questions about your name, major and graduation date thrust you into an existential crisis.

Name? Easy enough. You’ve been spelling this one for years, right? Except — whoops! — you’ve managed to miraculously misspell it this time. That can’t be good. Major? You just declared it yesterday. Or it feels like yesterday, because you spent so long trying to figure it out. Well, at least you’re majoring in something you like, right? RIGHT? ALL THIS SUFFERING WILL BE WORTH IT IN THE END, RIGHT??? AT LEAST YOU’LL HAVE A JOB, RIGHT?? A JOB YOU’LL ENJOY??

2. Write your best guess-timate of your professor’s name.

You’ve been going to this professor’s lectures for an entire semester now. How do you not know how to spell his name? It starts with an “N”… or maybe it’s a silent “K”? And you’re pretty sure there’s a “sh” in the middle … or is it an “sch”? What is that, German?

3. Write “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again.

So much more effective than writing, “This class literally drives me crazy.”

4. Write a Shakespearean love sonnet.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No I shan’t because Berkeley weather is not consistent enough for me to provide an accurate meteorological description. But I think you’re a pretty rad professor, anyway. Wait … how many syllables was that?”

5. Be succinct.

There is no possible way to list all of your opinions of a semesterlong class in a single gray box, so just stick to what’s important: Does your professor emit a low whistling noise every time he pronounces a word that begins with the letter “h”? Does spit gather at the corners of her mouth whenever she talks for too long, leaving behind a crusty residue? Wow, that sounds really distracting. But it’s probably not relevant to their teaching skills.

6. Don’t let a good professor go without praise.

If you took a class that literally changed your entire perspective on an issue and enhanced your UC Berkeley experience for the better, then you should really mention that in your evaluation. Good professors deserve to be praised. Don’t save all your kind words for a glowing, barely coherent and badly misspelled Rate My Professor review — although you should still write one of those, because those are really fun to read.

Contact Lilia Vega at [email protected].