Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

7 Ways to Alienate Your College Professors

By Amanda Alix - Sep 6, 2014 at 11:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

If you would rather have a successful college career, avoid these behaviors at all costs

Flickr / hbs1908.

Another academic year is upon us, and, for many, being trundled off to college or university is a whole new experience. Are there societal norms associated with higher education – particularly where those fonts of knowledge, college professors, are concerned – that you should know?

College and university professors themselves have weighed in on this issue, giving students a roadmap of behaviors that especially irritate them. As you might expect, several lists I came across in my research have common threads running through them, which I have condensed below. Keeping this menu of undesirable behaviors in mind just might make your college years a lot happier.

1. Skip one or more classes, then return, expecting the instructor to fill you in on what you missed.
This behavior, by far, seems the most irksome for college professors, who expect that you are responsible enough to make up for your absence – preferably, ahead of time. Arrange to obtain notes or handouts from someone in your class, or, if possible, alert your instructor that you will be absent, and ask if you can get the materials directly from him.

2. Don't bother to read the syllabus.
Asking questions that are clearly addressed by this informational handout, acting ignorant of assignments listed therein, or breaking rules put forth in the course syllabus are all good ways to get your professor's dander up. Usually only a few pages long, syllabi are meant to be read and referred to often throughout the semester. Ignore this unspoken rule at your peril.  

3. Be disruptive in class as often as possible.
As logic would dictate, this category includes things like arriving late to class, as well as leaving early – and, of course, doing each as noisily as possible. Other gems include texting, allowing your cell phone to ring during class, and talking to classmates during the lecture. Getting your things together minutes before class is over, but while the instructor is still speaking, also riles. 

4. If you email your professor, be sure to use slang, misspell words, and generally write as poorly as you can.
Emailing professors on a regular basis probably not a good idea, but there may be occasions when it is necessary. On those occasions, pretend you are writing a letter, not a text message. Remember that college professors are first and foremost teachers, so sending them poor-quality missives will naturally make them crazy. 

5. Ignore assignments; or, if you do them, turn them in late.
This is huge, since you are there to learn, and part of that process is completing assignments timely. Doing so also shows that you are maturing as a person, and taking responsibility for your own education. The only thing you can do to compound this blunder is to gripe about the assignment, as well. 

6. Come to class unprepared, and never participate in discussions.
Similar to No. 6, this shows a clear disregard for the educational process, in addition to wasting the money you or your family is paying the institution you're attending. It isn't difficult to see why professors would get very irritated by students who act this way, and many place heavy emphasis on class participation when it comes to grading their students. 

7. Make a nuisance of yourself by badgering the instructor about your grade.
Apparently, this occurs quite a lot: instead of asking for help early in the semester, many students wait until the end is near, and then beg for a better grade. If you have a specific concern, that's one thing, but general whining about how low your grades are -- and the negative effect that such an outcome will have on you – doesn't sit well with college professors. 

Doubtless you have noticed the common themes: be courteous and respectful, and take responsibility for your own actions. Whether you are interacting with college professors, fellow students, co-workers or bosses, remember to treat others as you yourself would like to be treated – an old adage, certainly, but it works every time.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.