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Professor Pet Peeves: 10 Annoying Things My Professors Do

Winter break has come to an end, and Spring semester has officially started. As I am beginning the semester, I have noticed some key differences between the professors I like and the ones I dislike. While I am sure professors have pet peeves of their own, I know I do not only speak for myself when I list the ways in which the doctorate-degree holders diminish my enthusiasm. 

1. Arriving Late to Class

Whether the professor is late on the first day of class or an hour late to a final exam–and I have experienced both–it really bothers me. If students were late on the first day of class, the professors would “jokingly” harass them. And if students showed up an hour late to a final exam, the professor would fail them. The double standards on this are inexcusable, at least in my opinion.

2. Not Giving Feedback but Expecting Better Results

The amount of times I have been told “you have completed this assignment *insert number* of times before, you should know how to do it by now” all while never receiving a single word of feedback is unfathomable. How can they expect us to learn if we do not know what we are doing wrong? I had one professor who not only didn’t give us feedback on the assignments (until the week of finals) but also had that material on the final itself! Needless to say, the entire class was in a group chat, and we were not impressed.

3. Giving Contrasting Feedback and Grades

In continuation of the last point, I have had professors who say I did excellent on a paper or discussion post, but then they give me a bad grade. For example, I was taking an online course during COVID-19 and created a discussion post. The professor replied “Great response!” Then she gave me a C in the gradebook for it. Tell me how that lines up… because I really do not understand, and it irritates me to the core.

4. Giving Students Different Expectations

Okay… not to brag, but I get good grades. I put in every ounce of effort (sometimes too much) for a project or assignment. However, when I miss a class, my professors will make me feel extremely guilty. Meanwhile, there are students in my class who miss countless class sessions, but they don’t get reemed like I do. What’s up with that?

5. Bragging About Being a Bad at Their Job

Imagine this: you walk into class on the first day, sit down, maybe make small talk with the strangers next to you, and wait for the professor to start their spiel. One of the first sentences that spews out of their mouth is some variation of “Good luck because most students fail this course!” It does not inspire much confidence, and it definitely does not make me want to continue taking the course. Not only are they saying they are inadequate to teach the subject they spent at least eight years working towards, but they are also creating an immediate divide between themselves and the entire class.

6. Assigning Too Much Homework

I understand college is supposed to challenge you and push you to your limits. After all, there is a reason having a college degree is something to brag about. But when students are past their breaking points–crying, spiraling into depressive episodes, or developing extreme anxiety even when they don’t have homework–there is something wrong. A professor in the English department at my university assigns at least 100 pages to read per class period (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) on top of essays, studying, and other assignments. That is too much. When the students confronted said professor, we were told that we should be managing our time more wisely. Um… excuse me?!

7. Claiming Mental Illness is Fake

I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I have friends with similar diagnoses and some with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therefore, when professors claim mental illness is not real, I take it personally. Obviously, I understand attendance is important, especially in communication- and discussion-based classes. However, if a student has to miss one or even two days in order to keep themselves from having a mental breakdown, the student should not be reprimanded because it will make the feelings of guilt even worse! And if the student was gone because of a mental breakdown, then they definitely shouldn’t be reprimanded. If anything, I think professors should talk with the students who have these issues and empathize with them. But professors telling students their experiences are fake or invalid is, in my opinion, extremely unprofessional and opposite of a teacher’s role.

8. Not Having a Schedule

I have given professors a lot of slack due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, I still can’t get past the act of having no schedule at all. If they make schedules but slightly change it throughout the semester, I understand. It is important to me because having some form of schedule helps my anxiety. When there is no schedule at all, it makes it difficult to healthily manage my anxiety, make up for missed classes, plan ahead in my planner, and more. 

9. Giving Assignments with Late Notice

I once had a professor send an email at 7:00pm with a survey attached and expected a response by 9:00pm. I have also had professors assign a project–easily worth 10 hours of my time–and expect it by the next class period. They act as if their class is the only priority I have in my life. 

10. Poorly Lecturing

At least 50% of my professors throughout my college career should be required to take a public speaking course. They either talk too fast, so I cannot take notes or they speak as if they are giving a scholarly lecture to people with the same knowledge capacity, so I cannot understand a word they are saying. I’m not stupid, but when they use words like amalgamation or ephemeral to explain a relatively easy concept, it makes me feel dumb. Of course, I learned these words later on, but I didn’t memorize their definitions until well after the course was over.

While I have many more pet peeves of things my professors have done, I should probably end my ranting there. Before you start calling me a negative person, take a step back and think about how you would feel if you experienced these things on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. I understand each circumstance is different. For instance, maybe my professor was having a breakdown of their own. I can be empathetic with the professors that try their best. But for the professors who have the belief system of “my way or the highway,” I am not here for it. Just because they read more books and studied more than the average human, does not mean they can throw respect and human decency out the window. We are all equal.
To my fellow students, remember your grades are not determined solely on your effort. Even if you try your hardest and understand the material, some professors make it impossible to receive a good grade. When you have challenging professors who seem to purposefully make your life more difficult, take a second to consider that you may not be the problem. And always remember your worth is not dependent on your GPA!

Cheyenne Halberg is a student at Winona State University with a major in Communication Arts and Literature Teaching. She is from the outskirts of St. Cloud, MN. Cheyenne enjoys writing to express herself and empowering others to do what they love. Her hobbies include spending time with friends and family, watching football, spending time outdoors, crafting and writing. Her life goal is to leave an impression on the next generations that allows them to embrace their unique qualities.
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