Top ten ways to annoy your college professor

Top ten ways to annoy your college professor

Brown_University_Sayles_HallWikimediaOver the almost nine years I’ve taught as an adjunct college professor at community colleges, universities, even private universities, I’ve noticed one thing. There is great similarity in the silly, even ridiculous things students do. I’m also amazed at the entitlement attitude, lack of initiative, and the amount of general mental laziness or lack of intellectual curiosity I see. This can’t-wait-till-the-test-is-over-so-I-can-purge-this-poison mentality of the average student is a tragedy. And the fact that close to half of all incoming freshmen are not at the minimum (key word here “minimum”) requirement in math, reading and writing skills is another tragedy.

And don’t think that there’s much of a difference between community college and four-year university, even private university. I can tell you right now that, that myth can be done away with. As a matter of fact, how about this? Some of the best students I’ve had attend a particular Los Angeles community college, and some of the worst a private university. Not that this is the rule. Certainly the best universities, Ivy League for example, enroll our best students, but in general today they are few and far between. Believe me, I’ve personally dealt with thousands, talked to many a professor, and have read many of the latest reports complaining about the same.

So because students are at a premium, I feel it is essential that they understand what the do’s and don’t are so they have a greater chance for success. These annoyances are in no particular order. However, I do recall a few of the top picks later in the list being some of the most upsetting.

10. The student who tells his professor he’s an “A” student and that he can’t understand the “B” received.

Professors are grading based on class requirements and not anything you’ve done in previous school history. This point should be noted especially for high school grads in their first semester of college. Unfortunately, because more and more professors at colleges and universities are working as adjuncts grades are inflated, meaning professors want tenure so they don’t want to stand out as a problem if too many students complain about grades. Regardless, one of the most annoying things students can do.

9. After the semester starts, the student asks the professor if it’s OK to take off for a week or two . . . or more!

Some students have asked for as much as six weeks off, which is certainly not allowed. What students forget is that there is a certain amount of in-class time required to get full credit. When I was a student, I rarely missed more than a class or two a semester. I remember even going to class when I didn’t feel particularly well. And I don’t remember scheduling long trips during a semester. If school was in session that was my main focus, regardless. Maybe it’s just me, but how students can regularly now ask for time off without a guilty conscience or the slightest hint of remorse says something about how our society and the upbringing of our children has changed.

8. The student who asks the professor weeks or months later if a paper was received.

Some students don’t or won’t do the work on time and say they emailed the paper on the due date but “the attachment must not have been there, for some reason. I’ll just resend it.” Others will miss most of the semester, therefore get dropped, but show up the last day of class for the final with the research paper in hand. These are some of the most annoying late paper issues. Case in point, a class I taught this semester had about thirty students still on the roster late into the semester (I usually drop, but it’s really up to the students to do so. When I’m busy it doesn’t get done, so they end up with a bad grade). The last couple weeks I had about twenty students showing up. The day of the final? Thirty. Believe me, I let ’em have it. It was not a pretty sight.

7. When the professor tells the student that an assignment is missing that will affect his grade adversely only to have said student berate the professor later for whatever reason dreamed up.

You don’t want to be known as a bad egg amongst professors. Your name may be passed on. Be careful. I had one student cuss me out on Facebook and in my email. He was so upset at me that “I” had gotten him kicked off the basketball team. Hmmmm, but I wasn’t the one not doing the work. I guess I’m just supposed to look the other away, pretend the work was done, and give the appropriate “dreamed up” grade.

6. The student who sends poorly written and edited emails to the professor asking for a better grade.

This is especially bad if a student sends such an email to an English professor. Unfortunately, this happens more often than one would think. This doesn’t reflect well on the student. I get so many poorly edited, IM-type messages I often wonder what’s going through the student’s mind, if anything, as he types, “Hey, whaz up prof.? Is gade mine smthng going to get to soon. MX.” Whatever that means.

5. The student who shows up late or misses class repeatedly expecting it not to affect his grade.

It’s OK to miss a class or two or to show up late on a rare occasion, even college professors end up doing one or the other on occasion. However, the big problem is the habitual offenders. I had one class in which students were not only showing up late but walking out in the middle of the lecture. At one point I tore a creative blue streak. I used words that I forgot I knew. Once again, not a pretty picture.

4. The student who asks his professor for assignment due- and test dates.

It is the student’s job to stay current with the syllabus. The professor rarely commits to memory assignment due dates, nor should he. Not his job. They have a lot on their mind and aren’t there to be a student’s private course concierge. I had one student ask for the syllabus three months into the semester. I wondered if he had lost it. He said, “No, I just never got around to asking you for it after adding the class.”

3. The student who barters with the professor for a grade.

If a professor has given you a grade, it is one that is in line with the results of how close the end-product, your work, matches that of the course requirements. Many a student mentions effort, but effort is not always the cause for best grade. Some get high grades with little effort and visa versa. Bottom line, how close have you come to filling the course requirements? Knowing them or working to outcome is essential to success. This isn’t hand-holding, just-get-em-through high school anymore. Now we’re getting closer to the work environment where results matters, not how you get there, as long as you’re not doing anything unethical. Another great lesson for incoming freshmen, even for not-clued-in upper classmen.

2. The student who calls his professor “stupid,” especially in front of other students.

Yes, I had a student label something I did as stupid in class, in front of about thirty students. Not good. I told him that he could look at me as his employer, his boss, that I was going to pay him in grades. At this point, I told him, it looks like your pay will be quite low. Interestingly enough, after the break he didn’t come back.

Ratemyprofessor dot com is an online teacher review site. I had known about it for some time but wasn’t too interested until some students mentioned it, so just out of curiosity I checked it out. Most of the comments were fair, and I even had received a chili pepper (you get one for being “hot”) However, there were some rather scathing remarks, such as “There’s boring, comatose, and then there’s Doctor Brown.” My suggestion? Don’t say or write anything bad about your professor that can get back to him. Just like those Paris Hilton home movies all over the Internet, the unexpected can and does happen. Be forewarned.

1. The student who sleeps, instant messages, works on laptop, or does anything other than pay attention in class.

Sorry for all you who thought college was going to be a wall-to-wall blast. I’ve got news for you. It is often grind-it-out, monotonous, difficult row-to-hoe work. Sorry, Disney Landers. It’s kind of representative of what you’ll be doing after college: Work!

I know right now that working Sunday through Thursday is challenging (I actually read a student’s statement saying so; he felt having to wait four days to party again was a bit much). And I know that as a student it’s difficult to get to bed before 3 a.m. on a regular basis (another student’s complaint), but eventually these challenges will fall away to the realities of work life (the unemployment line, prison, or whatever else if there is no forthcoming change in habits). And when you hopefully get that first job, if you’re late, leave early, fall asleep at your desk, or can’t pay attention one time too often. . . Well, I’m just here to inform you that there is no unemployment check for those who get fired.

Hmmmm, just like in college when the professor decides not to “pay” you with a grade you desired but never worked for. Imagine that?

Good luck and may these points serve you well in college and career.

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