Ways to Piss Off Your Professor

I know that we professor’s seem so even keel most of the time. But I thought I’d give you dear readers a list of ways to really irk your professor – if that is what you’re after.

1. Give a lot of really crappy excuses for why you couldn’t do your assignment on time. Sure the professor told you about it two weeks ago, sure you could have started it immediately but instead decided to put it off, sure you only do things the night before, but that’s the professor’s fault that you couldn’t finish. Not yours. So make sure they know that the reason you couldn’t finish is because your computer was down that night, you had a stomach ache, or you were having emotional difficulty. Don’t think about the fact that you had at least two days to finish it and you chose to procrastinate. You definitely should get an extension because your excuse is really unique and the professor only hears it 10 times a day.

2. Don’t read the syllabus. Sure the professor goes over it in class the first day. But you just shoved that in your folder and forgot about it. Now when you do something against the syllabus and your professor says something, go ballistic “WAS THAT IN THE SYLLABUS?!” Yes, it was, did YOU read the syllabus? I know *I* read the syllabus seeing as how… I WROTE the darn thing. (Hint to the wise: it is valuable to re-read the syllabus every two weeks.)

3. Ask for office hours at ridiculous times. Sure the class is at 8am, why shouldn’t you email the professor at 2am asking for office hours with the professor at 7:30am? I mean, the professor lives their life just to answer your emails. We don’t eat, we don’t sleep. All we do is sit at our email, constantly refreshing it, hoping you’ll ask us to have office hours during a time when we’re usually doing last minute prep for the lecture you’re at. Also, another one of my favorites is asking for office hours on Saturday. This is my JOB, not my life. If I’m not offering you time outside of 9-5pm M-F, you shouldn’t ask for it.

4. Skip the lecture and then come in to office hours asking for the entire lecture over again. The class is early, you wanted to sleep in. No biggie, you’ll just go in to office hours and have the professor do the whole lecture over again JUST FOR YOU! Who wouldn’t want to give every lecture they’ve given 2-3 times.

5. Call me “Ms. SS4BC”. Look, I went to 5 years of graduate school at a top 10 research university. Then I did 2.5 years of post-doctoral research funded by an exceptionally prestigious fellowship. I published over 12 articles in 7 years – two of which were cover articles for the journals they were published in. Yah, I’m bragging here, but I didn’t do all of this so some chump who is making a D in the class and who probably shouldn’t even be in college can call me “Ms. SS4BC”. It is “Dr. SS4BC” or “Prof. SS4BC”. Also, don’t call me by my first name. Once I’m not your professor you can, but sorry undergrad, I worked for that title and I expect to be called by that title. That is the culture here, so why are you okay calling old man with white hair “Dr”, but I’m a “Ms”? Or even worse… call me “Yo, teach!”

6. Email me everyday asking me questions I already answered. No really, I love this. I love, love, love answering the same questions that I talked about in class, that I put on the syllabus, AND that I sent you an email about. I love that you conveniently didn’t pay attention any of those times and now you want the information and you’re too lazy to go ask someone else or to read your syllabus or read the emails I sent you or go to the class website for the information.

7. Ask me if you can get an A in the class when you’ve failed every exam and don’t do any of the assignments and there is only 3 weeks left in the class. No, you can’t. You probably won’t get a B or a C either, you may get a D, if you study your butt off for the final. Maybe.

8. Don’t study. If I hear one more student tell me that they don’t have time to read the book or do the 10 minutes of homework I assign after each lecture I may scream. Why are you in school if you don’t have any time to work on your classwork? You do realize that you should be spending 2 hours of time out of class studying for every 1 hour you are in lecture? That means as a professor I have the ability to assign you 2 hours of work each class period and not have to hear you bitch and moan about it. Instead I assign only 10 minutes of work and assume you’re mature enough to schedule the other hour and 50 minutes you need to spend when it is convenient for you. So don’t you DARE tell me you couldn’t find the 10 minutes to do the homework in the TWO DAYS that I give you to do it.

9. Be a douche. No really, this doesn’t actually make me angry. It just makes it really easy when you’re on the cusp between a B or an A to leave you at a B.

10. Never come to office hours. Office hours are silly. I mean, I schedule them for 4 hours every day in exceptionally convenient times, why would you want to come to them? It is better to sit in confusion in class, get frustrated that you don’t get the material, and then fail the exam miserably and exclaim to the world how much you hate the subject. Come to my office hours. I want you there. I want to help you understand the material. My JOB is to help you understand the material. Part of my responsibility is to make myself available for you. Part of your responsibility is to make sure that you take advantage of that. Come to my office hours. You WILL do better in the class if you do. Promise.

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13 Responses to Ways to Piss Off Your Professor

  1. TMcImmy says:

    I think a lot of students don’t realize it’s better to turn in garbage on time than nothing or be late. Especially since if you didn’t feel like doing it for a week or two, that extra 24 hours probably isn’t going to help you bang out an A+ piece of work.

    I’ll confess “Yo, Teach!” is pretty funny to me.

    As a TA one of my big frustrations was students who started worrying about their grade in the final weeks of the semester. The classic “What do I need to get on the final to get a A/B/C?” question. Because most class materials build as the semester goes on, it’s uncommon if not rare for a student to hugely change course. Because of simple math, with 60-70% of the points accounted for usually the only students who could really pump up their grade are the ones with missing assignments who can bargain for a handful of points if they turn them in to squeak up to a C.

    I do think that the opposite of 9. is one thing most students don’t realize. I can remember at least one case of a pleasant student who had good attendance and a good homework record and who clearly was putting in an effort, but with middling test scores who happened to fall on the cusp between where the line for B and C was drawn. It was pretty easy to lump them in at the bottom of the Bs.

    • SS4BC says:

      Yup, if I have a student that I can see is working hard, putting forth effort and still struggles – I’m FAR more likely to grade bump for them than someone who I can’t see trying as hard.

      If they’re coming to me for help semi-regularly and getting tutoring outside of class and they’re even 2-3 points below the grade line, I will still seriously consider giving them a boost for effort.

      The best way to earn “extra credit” is to put forth extra effort and make sure the professor knows you are. Too many students want “extra credit” for doing nothing really extra at all.

    • SS4BC says:

      BTW – I’m super excited about seeing you in June!!!

  2. I love this! Being a part-time student, while working full-time in my field (and being 10 or more years older than my classmates) I see this all the time and think how silly you people are!

    Because I am one of those students that comes to office hours, when having trouble, asks questions during class about the content to help me further my understanding and find an application for the context, studies my butt off (one class, 3 hours of class time, 15 hours of study/homework time per week), and sometimes doesn’t get the best grades, I can say I’ve been on the receiving end of an upswing three times now. Two final marks and an assignment. It really does pay to be in front of your professor regularly, converse with them often, and show them you are working hard.

    Seriously great list and idea for a post!!

  3. findingserenity2010 says:

    HA! It’s like my life just flashed before my eyes … and I’m working on a post much like this, except with all my comments about my former coworkers too.

    The only thing I would add is “I love when you have fellow students or your PARENTS call me to make excuses for you.” And some things about student evals, but my post is kind of about that, too …

  4. Red says:

    Funny stuff! I would point out, being a student who works full-time, it sucks when professors have god-awful office hours. I had one prof who would ONLY meet with students in the two hours before his class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Well, guess what? I’m in other classes during those hours, and the times I’m not in those classes, I’m working 40 hours a week so my husband and I can have health insurance. It drives me crazy when professors aren’t flexible for non-traditional students. Of course, you’ve said before that you’ve yet to have non-traditional students, and I have no doubt that you would make allowances for the rare student who really needed it.

    Regarding number 5… I always go with “Professor SS4BC” until I know whether or not the prof is a “Dr.” I had one professor who actually corrected me in an email before the semester began, and then he made a huge deal on the first day of class about how emails need to be specifically addressed in a certain way or he wouldn’t even respond to them. I dropped that class immediately.

    • SS4BC says:

      For sure, sucky office hours are the pits. I teach every day from 8-10am. Then I usually have some sort of meeting at 10am since there are few classes at that time. Then lunch at 11 with the department. So I have office hours every day from 12-5pm. I can’t imagine any student not having availability during these times.

  5. Money Maus says:

    This ABSOLUTELY made me laugh! I love it. As a good student all throughout my life, people like this drove me crazy. I remember in one of the easiest classes I ever took in college (Personal Finance!), some of the students would come up with the WORST excuses regarding the homework assignments they were ridiculously easy and they were SENIORS! Sigh. Haha.

  6. Ingrid Nevin says:

    I’ve just gone back to school for an after-degree. The goal is a 4.0 GPA and so far, having passed all midterms at 90%+, I am on track. More importantly, I LOVE what I am learning now, textbooks are a sheer pleasure and excitement to read – as I expected, this really IS what I have been searching for for years.

    But one thing I was wondering, the Dr. versus first name thing. I established friendships with some professors during my first degree and then spent 6 years in the workforce already, and had amazing mentors, all of whom have been 20-30 years older and some fairly high up in the hierarchy. They too have earned it – but one thing striking about those people was their informality. Especially since I come from a more hierarchical culture originally, their insistence on treating people “below” them as equals was incredible and inspiring. And the first step was the use of the first name. As the result, I developed a bit of a suspicion of people who insist on titles and now it makes me perceive a person as standoffish, as it’s the very opposite of the people who have been influential in my life.

    It’s interesting to me that you say “culture” is to use “Dr.” – and you really are the expert here – when my personal experience has been so different.

    • SS4BC says:

      For sure there are places where the title is unimportant. For instance, most graduate schools would never call their profs “D”‘ or “prof”. Most adult programs are the same. In fact even on our campus adult programs refer to their professors by their first name, and when I taught community college I generally was called by my first name.

      At schools they teach at a traditional undergraduate level though, the titles are typically used as a carry over from how you addressed your teachers in high school. When the culture of an institution is to call your professor by their appropriate title, it then becomes an insult (whether intentional or not) to not use the appropriate title.

      It is 100% institution and age level dependent, and I’ve taught in both environments.

      • Ingrid Nevin says:

        Thank you for explaining!
        I will be more sensitive to this from now on and will simply ask my professors what their preferred way of addressing is going forward.

  7. Agreed on all counts! And these are just the standard garden variety annoyances. Seems like students keep coming up with creative new ways to overstep.

    http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/rboc-5/ lists some of our more recent egregious cases. I love that I can just say no.

  8. s says:

    When I was in school, I was guilty of #8 (except I never complained to the prof about not having enough time…I just managed to waste my time doing other things LOL) and #10! I sure would do things differently if I had to do it all over again. Probably get better grades 😉

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