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What Not to Do: Common Pet Peeves of College Professors

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A big part of college life is being able to adapt. No two classes are the same, just like no two professors are the same. You may take two similar classes in the same subject area and find that are run completely differently. College professors are given much latitude in what they teach and how they teach it. Be ready to change and adapt to each individual professor.

Some professors can be inspiring while others can be awful. Even though they are all different, there are certain things most professors dislike. Most of these things are common sense or easy to avoid. There are three major categories of professor pet peeves. They should be avoided at all costs in order to further your success and prevent problems with your professors.

Disruptive Behaviors in Class

Disruptive behavior is any kind of behavior or action which interrupts the teacher or prevents you or your classmates from learning. Constant interruption is a common pet peeve for many professors. They end up repeating the same things over and over again instead of covering new material. Cell phones are one of the biggest causes of disruption in the class room. It is also one of the most easily avoided disruptions. Almost every cell phone has a vibrate mode. Even better, turn it off while you’re in class. A classroom is a place to study and concentrate. Unless there is an emergency, there is no reason for your phone to be on or for you to be talking on it. This includes texting as well as talking.

Talking when someone else is talking is a big no-no. All personal conversation should cease when the professor or another student is talking. Other actions that could be considered to be disruptive are things such as doing homework during lecture, constantly pestering with unnecessary commentary, talking in class, whining, or over-raising of the hand.

Professors are not stupid. They know when you are sucking up and they know when you are talking just to appear impressive. These tactics won’t get you a better grade and it interrupts everyone else’s learning. Remember, these behaviors are not just irritating to the professor, but to the other students in your class.

Keep in mind that your professor has a life outside the class. While office hours are for students, the disruption of constant emails, phone calls and visits can begin to wear on your professor.


Avoid disrespect in the classroom. Tact should always be used when dealing with your fellow students or professor, even if you don’t agree with their views. Professors get upset when students are disrespectful of each other. An environment where people are afraid their views may be made fun of is not an environment that is conducive to learning.

Frequent absences are another way to irritate most professors. Go to your classes unless you are sick, or there is an emergency. Not only will you stay on your professor’s good side, but it will help you earn a better grade. Try not to come to class late or leave early. If it can’t be avoided, address this issue directly with your professor. They were once students and probably remember having 10 minutes to get clear across campus. If you do have to come in late or leave early, be quiet about it.

Do not shuffle papers, put your books away, or other “end-of-the-class” behaviors before the professor has ended class. Sleeping in class is another way to irritate your professors. Just don’t do it.

Do not ask what is happening in class when it is clearly marked on the syllabus. Most all professors will spell out their class rules and expectations on the first day of class and again in the syllabus. Claiming you did not know an assignment was due or that there was an exam is irritating when this information is clearly identified on the class syllabus.

A big pet-peeve occurs when a student misses class and then asks whether they missed anything important. This may seem like an innocent question, but this statement implies that not everything said and done in class is important. This is a direct insult to your professor. It is also unwise to constantly ask if something is going to be on the test. This gives the impression that information is only valuable if you are going to be tested on it.

Plagiarism is one of the most disrespectful things a student can do. Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. This behavior is not only rude, but it can get you and your school into major trouble. Most instructors know plagiarism when they see it.

Disregard or Apathy

Disregard or apathy is a big pet peeve of most college professors. Not paying attention in class, not doing your work or turning in papers, not listening to instructions, and not participating in lectures are all easy ways to irritate a professor. These behaviors are especially irritating when done as a group. An unresponsive class is an irritant to most college level teachers. When the professor asks a question, every second of silence that passes irritates him or her even more. You’re better off, as a class, to answer wrong than not to answer at all. Make sure your answer is on point – you never know, a wrong answer could provoke a great deal of discussion.

If you avoid bad behaviors, your class should be smooth sailing. Most behaviors that irritate professors are simple issues of common sense and respect. Professors don’t expect every student to be brilliant or to have a high level of intellectual accomplishment. They do expect effort, both in class and in the work they are supposed to be doing outside of class.

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Martisha Rucker over 4 years ago Martisha Rucker

We have to learn how to disagree and still get along. Even if we dont agree with what someone else view is. W e should take into consideration everone see things in a different perspective.

Jasmine Jordan almost 5 years ago Jasmine Jordan

I really agree with everything that was said...I totally understand the parts about the phones in class which is great...

Christopher Winford almost 5 years ago Christopher Winford

I strongly agree about the disruptive class behavior. No one wants to be hendered from learning because another student is being disruptive during a class lecture.

Jacqueline Moore almost 5 years ago Jacqueline Moore

I agree with the post. Disrespect in the classroom is wrong and rude. Thats Why I lead by example. I'm always on time for class, courteous with classmates and professors and keep a good grade point.

Barbara Jean Johnson almost 5 years ago Barbara Jean Johnson

I totally agree....

Eddie Leflore almost 5 years ago Eddie Leflore

The articale was very truthful to me I do find that no 2 classes are the same. I also feel as if talking while others are talking is disrespectful.

Edward Townsend almost 5 years ago Edward Townsend

I think the most important info on this article and is class attendance and the subject plaigarism. These two subjects are most important because for one most people dont really know how big of an impact and how significant your presence in the classroom is and can help out your grade alot. True enough everyone is not going to learn the same because some people have different learning methods. As far as plagiarism i personally think it cant be stressed no more than it already is some people just choose that route anyway for a easy fix or lack of knowledge why i say its important info is just as i stated most people are aware of the consequences but choose it anyway and if one still choose so its no ones fault but their own.

Edward Townsend almost 5 years ago Edward Townsend

I can definitely agree to some of those pet peeves because of course some of those are known issues. I didnt know that repetition of raising the hand can be considered as irritating. And its understandable that when class is in complete silence when a question is in the air but at the same time some are just afraid to respond in front other peers just as a normal action. Overall good article!

Austin Boutwell almost 5 years ago Austin Boutwell

I feel that the disrespect section is the most important. No matter whether you like the professor or not you should respect them. They are your elders and they are trying to excel your education. Therefore disrespect is the last thing you should show your teacher.

britteny trunnell almost 5 years ago britteny trunnell

the most important information to me was the absences because you dont no what information you will miss that the teacher go over in class. some students dont even asks the teacher or another student what he or she missed that class period.you should only miss when its important

Patrick Gray almost 5 years ago Patrick Gray

The most important advice to me was that the professor will expect effort in everything they give to you. All the professor expect out of their students is effort.

Rinna Whatley almost 5 years ago Rinna Whatley

I agree with this article because most of the things it brought up irritate me and if it irritates me I bet it irritates the professors.

Michael Vance Accardo almost 5 years ago Michael Vance Accardo

I absolutely agree with this entire article. It is our responsibility and our duty to show our instructors the upmost respect in their class. It really irritates me when another classmate is talking while the instructor is trying to talk. It really distracts me and makes me not be able to absorb the information being taught.

Juressa Gardner almost 5 years ago Juressa Gardner

The most thing that stood out to me in this article of " What Not To Do: Common Pet Peeves of College Professors" is the late comers of class. Professors want to know what student is dedicated on coming to class everyday as schedule with no excuses to why they couldn' come that causes the student to miss out on impoetant information that sometimes isnt explained correctly after the first time its explained by instructor. An also outstander was bad behavior on a grown aldut! we're all in college act your age and show as much respect to the next as you would like to be treated.