Students say the darnedest things! (2015)

I really like my students (well, most of them anyway… (:-)…). I would not be in this line of work otherwise.

For the most part, my students are smart, but even better, they are hard-working and above all, responsible. As for a small fraction of them, well… Not so much. I guess this is ok, as many things in life follow a normal statistical curve.


I have compiled a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) that originates from true “gems” that some of my students have asked me over the years.

Some questions are kind of expected, like exam makeups, etc. However, some are of a different nature; these are the questions that when I hear them, I truly do not know whether to laugh or cry (in fact, sometimes I do a little of both).

Please keep in mind that these are UNIVERSITY students! O_o

Here we go…

Student: Do I need to read the book?

Me: -blank stare… OR Spock-like raised eyebrow

S:How can I get extra credit? (asked after the VERY first lecture)

M: There is no individual extra credit. I will treat all students equally. Please see the syllabus.

S: What’s a syllabus?

M: A sound of … Whimper.

S: I have an 89 % in the class and I’d like to get a 90 %. Can you bump my grade?

M: Absolutely not. Your request is disrespectful to me and unfair to your classmates. This applies to 79 to 80, 69 to 70, etc.

S:I am applying to (Dental – Medical – Nursing – Beauty – etc.) school and I have an 89 % in the class; I’d like to get a 90%. Can you bump my grade?

M: Please see my answer to the the previous question.

S:I have a trip for a (wedding, family reunion, etc.). Can (note: not “may”) I take the exam at another date?

M: Nope!

(An advisee): S: “I have a hold on my account because of a parking ticket. Can you help?”

M: No, but you can help yourself by paying the fine.

S:What will be included in the exams?

M: Any and all lectured or assigned material is fair game.

S: I did not come to class last time. Did I miss anything important?

M: Blank stare from yours truly, with a single tear slowly making its way down the right side of my face…

S:I’d like to know how am I doing in the class. I have my grades, but how do I calculate a %?

M: -blank-stare-from-yours-truly… And a quiet whimper

(Oftentimes the day before the final exam): S: “I did not pass the first three exams. Can you give me some advice on how to study for this class?”

M: I wish you’d come to me right after the first exam. At this point, you are a little late in the game.”

S: I will not be able to come to class tomorrow. Will you cover anything important?

M: Blank stare from yours truly, with a single tear slowly making its way down the **left** side of my face…

S:(Handing an exam, in a 300+ class) When will the grades be posted?

M: -blank-stare-from-yours-truly…

***I actually had a lot of fun with this question once. As a young lady gave me the exam, she asked the question. I immediately said “The grades are already posted, didn’t you see them?” She said “Really?” and I just smiled. When she realized what she’d said, she gave me a dirty look that clearly meant “idiot” or worse…

It was absolutely worth it! (:-D ***

S:(In any given exam day, after the first person has finished the exam and left the room, a student rushes in, huffing and puffing —And I am very good at noticing when it is fake—):

I (overslept-forgot the time-the line to pay for the coffee was slow-the alarm clock did not go off, etc.), can (again, not “may”) I take the exam now?

M: Absolutely not.

S:I e-mailed you a question last night and I did not receive an answer. Is there a problem?

M:No problem at all! It means that the answer is found in the syllabus.

Brace yourselves for the last three!!!:

S:I worked a lot in this class this semester and I think that I deserve a better grade. What can be done?

M:I commend you on your hard work, but nothing can be done about your grade. However, you are a university student now, and just like in real life, effort must lead to actual results.

S:Is there another lab section that I can attend? I am not a morning person.

M: -blank-stare-from-yours-truly, followed by a little shudder if the student is premed…

S:Dear professor, I would do *anything* to get a good grade in this class. Any suggestions?



I have several other stories that are classic…


**Like when a student sends an email stating that they are horribly sick and cannot move, so they cannot go to class and then I run into them at the coffee truck line…

**Or the anecdotal relationship between exams and family fatalities (Most of my students are honest, though). This seems to be documented, but I have to find out if this is a true paper…

**Or when a student says that it is absolutely, critically, life/death situation that they must take my class to graduate and upon checking the records the student is 25 credits short…

But those are for another day.

What about academic advising? Look at this post and at this other post.

Talk to you soon!

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  1. I think one of the most priceless questions you can hear as a teacher is whether the student should read the book. Why would the book be provided in the first place unless it was meant to be read, studied, highlighted? I also think the people who can’t face the morning have a lot to learn about the real world. These are great!


  2. My father’s favorite story about getting some academic slack was in the late 20s when he took his exams to get into CCNY. He took the morning part of the exam, and, having never eaten in a restaurant and not having packed lunch, went back home to eat at Mom’s as he done in high school. By the time he returned, he was seriously late for the afternoon part of the test. They originally didn’t want to let him back in to finish the test, but he managed to convince them. Then he aced the test.


  3. Good post Professor! Someone has to put some boots to asses and get the new generation of students serious about their studies. Keep up the good work 🙂


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