Horrified Students Share Their Worst College Professor Stories.
You'd expect that institutions of higher learning will hire competent people. But sadly, this isn't always the case. Here, horrified students share their worst college professor stories.
1/25. My Native American History teacher called me out for using the passive voice in one sentence on a pop quiz. Apparently, I was "actively taking away agency from native peoples."
2/25. A kid cheated on the exam in a 300 person class and the professor found out the day after the exam. He wouldn't let us leave the class until someone fessed up. We all sat there in silence until someone said they had to go to their next class. He threatened to kick her out of the class for the rest of the semester. We all slowly got up and left since he couldn't force us to stay there. He was livid. No one confessed.
3/25. I had a professor, who like many professors, made the class buy a textbook he wrote. However, his was not published. It was just 400+ pages of his handwritten nonsense that had been xeroxed.
4/25. I was in an engineering physics class in college. It was 30 guys and 2 girls - me, and the girl who sat next to me. Our professor was an older foreign man who spoke in an accent that made it difficult for the entire class to understand him.
Usually, class would just be an hour of lesson, then two hours of working on homework or projects. The girl who sat next to me went to a tutor, and we shared notes and things and kept up low B averages in the class, which put us in the higher grade range of the class average.
So one day, there's a problem we're stuck on. Her tutor's notes aren't helping much, so we ask our professor for help. He is a MASSIVE jerk, and starts freaking out when he learned that she was seeing a tutor. He's talking loudly so the class can hear and says, "Women always do poorly in my class. You should pick a more appropriate major for yourselves, like something in elementary education."
The other girl was super offended. She reported him to the department head, and a few days later he made the announcement that he was tenured, and can say whatever he likes to us without fear of being fired.
5/25. Was commuting to school daily. One morning we had a test. On the drive there, I hit a deer and my vehicle was undrivable. I took pictures with my phone and sent her an email from the side of the road while waiting on a ride.
She said that hitting the deer was an unexcused absence from class and I failed a test worth 30% of the grade. That made me fail the course. She said, and I quote, "Deer are something you should account for when you leave in the morning. Leave enough time to deal with traffic inconveniences."
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6/25. It was a class that taught you about Effective Business Communication. This was an 8 am class, that many students dreaded. Well, on multiple occasions, the class was cancelled, but the only way that was communicated was with a note outside the door.
7/25. I didn't have this prof, but I tutored his students. It was a mess. The class was one of the most notoriously difficult required engineering courses to start. He never returned assignments, quizzes, or tests. He assigned a grade and you never saw your work again. So the students had no way of knowing what they were doing wrong.
They were all mysteriously getting the exact same grades, too, despite sitting apart during exams. I had 5 of the 8 remaining students in the class in my tutoring sessions. He also couldn't work through his own examples and would give up halfway through. So these students had no idea what they were doing right or wrong. There were some very angry evaluations given at the end.
8/25. One prof I had announces on the first day of class that 3/4s of us would fail. He then proceeded to teach the material so poorly and write exams so atrociously that 3/4s of us did indeed fail.
9/25. Thermodynamics 2: I was working 3 times as hard in this class as the rest of my classes combined. First test comes and I absolutely nailed it, real confident in my work. Test scores come back and I made a 68. Upon investigation, I realized I had gotten every single answer correct; however, I did not use the correct method for solving these problems.
You see, this Professor wrote the textbook and was convinced "his method" was the only correct method as defined in our text book. However, in Thermodynamics 1 I had learned a different, easier method. I got penalized for not taking this Professors Thermo 1 class.
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10/25. I was in this Anthropology course my freshman year where the professor was an actual anthropologist who was EXTREMELY passionate about his work. He spent about 60% of the class talking about his trips and time with local Fiji tribes and his experiences - that wasn't too bad.
It started to get bad when he started re-enacting their rituals in front of the whole lecture hall (a class of about 150). Many looked very....silly....and awkward. For instance, there was one dance he did where he was basically squatted like a chicken and went in circles squawking.
He would do them with so much passion and was just into it 110%. Many of us were silent in our seats like "W...t...f...." and a few brave souls laughed at him out loud - which led to him promptly stopping and singling those students out asking them if they had anything to contribute to the course... most of the time they said, "No," and he would abruptly continue with, "Well then shut up."
11/25. Had a Latin professor who, whenever a student did not understand the question she was asking (in Latin, obviously), would just stare at the them and repeat the phrase over and over...as if saying it multiple times might make the student understand. When students told her they needed help or had a question she simply refused to answer.
12/25. I had a biology class that I got a B+ in the first semester. Second semester, I got a D. I did NOT understand how that had happened, as I did well on tests but kept getting terrible grades on written work. The bio professor and I were (I thought) on good terms and he knew I wanted to minor.
Two years later, the douche bag I had been dating that year told me he went into the bio professor's office and saw the stack of papers he was grading from our class. He asked if the professor knew who I was and the professor stated he did.
Douchebag then proceeded to tell our professor our entire relationship and his skewed view of how I "screwed him over", ending with how the professor should fail me because I'm an awful person. Douchebag thought it was hilarious that he had apparently listened and almost failed me.
13/25. I had a college professor teaching genetic algorithms that from my perspective was a genius, but socially awkward. Or so i thought.
At the end of the first semester he gave us a genetic algorithm that he'd written spanning about 20 pages that didn't work and had numerous mistakes in it. These were part of the test of locating these errors and getting the program to spit out sun-spot calculations.
I approached him in his room and asked if i could go over the program briefly. He told me that he was on his way out but to follow me and we could talk about it, just after he was done doing what he had to do.
I dutifully followed him out the room, down the long corridor, down stairs two flights, along that corridor where he briefly looked at every door, up one flight of stairs and back along another corridor. Where again he briefly looked at almost every door before trying one. All the time he looked slightly off key.
We got to the end of that corridor, before climbing another flight of stairs to the floor of his room. Again he briefly looked and paused at every door. Before getting to his own.
When he stuck the key in his door, he looked at me and for the first time since we left his room he spoke.
He said, "Are you following me?"
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14/25. University of Michigan has little-to-no student rights regarding family deaths
Grandmother was dying but within travel distance. I was close with her.
Made a request to delay an assignment by one or two days to be with her when she passed. This was a partner project, meaning if I skipped it, I would have been screwing over the partner since it was worth something like 25% of the course grade.
Professor denied the request saying she doesn't count as immediate family and would be unfair. Grandmother passed away the night of prepping for turning in assignment, meaning I could have been with her, my mom and the rest of the family had the professor granted the request. It has been several years now and I still get upset thinking about it.
Miserable professor and human being.
15/25. This old history professor was trying to prove a point one day and asked someone to name a stereotype. Any stereotype. You didn't have to believe it, just one you'd heard before.
He started getting pissed after a minute or two with no one raising their hand, so I did and said, "Jewish people are good with money."
"Oh ho, so why is Israel so poor then?" he replied all haughtily.
I raised my hand again. I'd just studied Israel the semester before in a Middle Eastern History class. "It's not, it's in the top 20-25 in the world in GDP."
And this jerk's response? "I don't need to be lectured by a racist.
16/25. Spoke to us in French on the first day and showed us French movies without subtitles.
It wasn't French class.
17/25. Had an art teacher in college, the first day of class he said "Anyone who thinks we will be sitting here drawing and doodling may leave. This is to study art, not make it."
Throughout the class he would remind everyone that he was an artist, had some paintings in our local museum, and that he knew pretty much everything about art.
One day he told us our assignment was to go to the local museum, find one of his paintings, and critique it. What we liked, what we didn't, what mediums we thought he used vs. What we would use. The general response after this assignment was, "Well this is why you're not a professional artist, and I am."
Another time we were looking at an unfinished painting by Picasso. One girl raised her hand and asked, "How can you be sure this is unfinished?"
He was extremely offended, "How do I know? Do you realize who I am? Do you know what my profession is!?" It was awkward.
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18/25. I had a professor who would literally accuse the whole class of being on drugs. He couldn't teach worth a crap, and constantly whined about how we were "comatose."
In retrospect, I should have just walked out in the middle of one of his rants and gone straight to the dean (this was an upper-level engineering course).
19/25. As a junior I decided to pick up a political science minor for kicks. That required that I take one of the entry level poli sci courses with the oldest, most tenured, craziest professor on campus who liked to teach freshmen since they were naive and believed every word that came out of his mouth.
So here I am sitting in this class with a bunch of wide-eyed freshmen all soaking up this professors nonsensical rambling about life lessons, and I proceed to recline in my chair because I have no interest in his BS, although I was still listening to every word.
As he is talking about the potential arbitrary nature of a set of laws, he stops mid-sentence, looks right at me, and remarks, "Now everyone look here! See this young man's posture??? It clearly shows he isn't listening to a word coming out of my mouth!" At this point Im beyond pissed, and without moving a muscle I quickly reply, "Well that's a little arbitrary don't you think?"
He was so shocked and angry that a student had the nerve to talk back to him that he proceeded to badger me for the rest of the semester. I proceeded to recline every day and walked out of the class with an A.
20/25. My speech / public speaking prof. Senior year. Showed up massively hung over or high just about every class. Would literally lie down on a desk and lecture talking up to the ceiling. Pulled me aside at the end of the semester and warned me (in a very serious tone) that I should never pursue a career that would involve public speaking since I was so obviously awful at it."
21/25. During my Master's degree I was a TA for a Geo professor who was a complete jerk. The first day of class he emailed me about 2 hours beforehand saying he couldn't make it so I would have to cover, then he emailed me some scans of his crappy notes. After going over it for about an hour I decided to just do the best I could, and to cover the course basics (timeline, description, etc).
He was such a jerk he lectured me about how important first classes are when he got back, because I didn't go through some rudimentary definitions about Geo is.... unreal. So then he got ANOTHER TA to help out (this class was enormous), and he would only acknowledge that guy and just cc me on all the emails. I had no idea what this guy's problem was.
The rest of that semester he would constantly criticize my presentations to the class. It was an entry level class so on this "major" class assignment, about 1/5th of the class didn't hand it in on time. He then accused me of losing papers for the class. So I sent out a mass email to ALL of the students papers I was missing, warning them about their late submissions... which they all acknowledged, thereby proving to him how disinterested these students were in his class.
He then proceeded to get to me single handedly grade 250+ essays in 3 days time because he was "too busy".... this was about a week before my deadline to submit my thesis proposal. When I did grade them, the few times a student ever brought up an issue (4 in total, with maybe 1 legit), he ALWAYS sided with the students and threw me under the bus.
The next semester he was in charge of delegating TAs to different classes. He proceeded to put me in a field methods class from which I had NO previous experience with. As if, just to spite me.
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22/25. I had a Children's Literature class in second year. It was on a Saturday at 8am and the teacher would have us read a book a week. The books were actually pretty good, but during class she would just talk for three hours about how important the religious values were that the book was teaching.
She took every single kids book and basically made it a sermon even though her points were off the wall. Whenever someone expressed a different opinion than her, she would ask them their name and then tell them to get out of her class room.
On the subsequent assignment, because it was fairly opinion based, they could count on a failing grade even if it was perfectly written and they were right in their assessment. A couple people in my class ended up passing the course by going to the department with all of their assignments and complaining. She didn't work there the next year.
23/25. For me, it's easily my physics I professor. I had a saying that I used to tout about this teacher (who we'll call BC): "BC couldn't teach a student physics to save his life, even if Satan himself were calling his name."
Why was he so bad you ask?
- He didn't know how to explain the problems. He'd reached that understanding of physics where he was so high up that he was no longer to effectively explain how to solve basic problems. He'd explain step 1, then step 2, then step 5, because to him steps 3 and 4 were so rudimentary. If you asked him about steps 3 and 4 he'd say "because that's the way it works."
- His lectures were pretty disorganized in that he'd jump from formula to formula (i.e. he'd start explaining what velocity was, then explain how knowing acceleration only could allow you to determine distance traveled without finishing his explanation of velocity). It was almost impossible to make sense of what he was saying.
- The textbook he'd selected also sucked at explaining physics.
- He had a voice that could put a raging orc to sleep.
- The worst part about him though was that he was a nice guy. He really, truly, genuinely was trying to get through to us and had no idea how. Every test the average curve was 40 points, and it would've been higher if not for the fact that some students in the class had already taken physics, and though he tried and tried again to make us get it, he simply couldn't.
24/25. I wrote a 20 page case study for a childhood development course. She told me it was "too general" and "not detailed enough."
My next case study was 40 pages. She only graded the front and last page.
25/25. I had this one lecturer for microeconomics who was just completely useless. I went to the first lecture and he was kind of mumbling along there at the front of the room, struggling through the material that was pretty much laid out right there in the textbook. People started giving up and leaving while he was talking because he was all over the place -- seriously, I think he might have been mentally ill or something.
At one point he goes, "Bundling and tying...well, bundling is like tying...hang on..."
Then he turned and started doodling in a corner of the chalkboard. Those of us left were sitting there going, "WTF is this guy doing?" It would have been one thing if he'd put up some equations or graphs, but no, it was literally just doodles.
Then he came back and was like, "OK. Bundling and tying. There was an example with IBM punch cards...I think it was IBM...uh..."
At this point I (having read the book for once in my life) couldn't take it anymore and raised my hand. He stopped mumbling and stared at me. I started going over the example given in the textbook and he stared at me like I'd grown a third head.
When I finished, he turned back to the chalkboard and started doodling again, so I gave up and left.
I skipped the next class in favor of reading the textbook in my dorm room, only showing up five minutes till the end to hand in my homework. There were only two people there listening to the guy mumbling and doodling, and when the class time was up, they got up, handed in their assignments, and left. Incredibly, the lecturer KEPT ON MUMBLING AND DOODLING WHILE THE NEXT CLASS STARTED TO COME IN AND TAKE THEIR SEATS. I stood there in the back with my mouth hanging open, and I thought of yelling, "WE'VE ALL LEFT, YOU CAN GIVE UP NOW!" but instead I just put my paper down and left.
I never bothered attending another of his classes again. Still got an A.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.