50 Red Flags That You Should Drop A Class Without Thinking Twice

50 Red Flags That You Should Drop A Class Without Thinking Twice

If your teacher exhibits any of these red flags from Ask Reddit, save yourself some trouble and drop the class.

1. The instructor either seems to have trouble speaking in the language in which the class is being taught or their accent is so thick that it’s difficult to understand them. While plenty of people are incredibly knowledgeable about their topic of interest without being great at multiple languages, the fact of the matter is that you’re not going to learn much if you’re going to have to devote so much of your attention into just figuring out what the instructor is saying.

2. Claim that grammar and spelling is important to them when grading papers but their own PowerPoints and handouts are full of errors.


4. When the first thing they say before reading the 2 page, 1.0 spaced syllabus is: “I’ve been teaching for x years so I deserve your respect” or something like that. That’s basically a 100% accurate indicator that this person cannot be wrong and they will talk to you like you’re a piece of shit. They can’t earn anybody’s respect so they have to ransom it.

5. Pride in the difficulty of their course.

If everyone fails, it’s not for an inability to learn, but for an inability to teach.

6. “This class will be using a textbook that I am writing and editing during the semester.”

Translation : it’s going to be amateur hour. In addition to trying to learn new stuff, you are paying the school for the privilege of proofreading your professor’s book.

7. Think that their students should only focus on this particular class for the upcoming semester as if they should spend all their time on it.

8. “Get out the science textbooks and work on chapter 5, activity 1”.

Proceeds to sit down at their desk to do random shit on their computer.

9. If all your professor does is read from the textbook. Then drop that class! If you can. Sometimes you need it for your major, or a time conflict, but if you can. Drop it. You know how to read.

10. If they do ice-breakers not just on the first day, but the second day as well. It means they have no idea what they’re doing.

11. They keep stressing that the syllabus could change at any time and that you should check blackboard for updates.

Usually means they just threw together a syllabus to appease their department head and knows they won’t be able to actually follow it.

12. Reviews on RateMyProfessor. There are a few times that the student was just mad that they got a low grade..but more often then not, they are spot on.

13. Holding office hours but never being there doesn’t help anyone. By appointment only… but having zero availability also doesn’t help anyone.

14. A red flag that the teacher has a really bad ego problem is if they require you buy their books. Especially if they ONLY recommend books they’ve written.

Yes, you are the ONLY person who has ever written about James Baldwin. No one else has anything remotely worth adding to the conversation.

Also, using your students as a means of increasing your sell numbers/making more money is a shitty, egotistical thing to do.

15. The professor can’t stop making political comments, especially if it’s a class like Spanish or Calculus.

16. “If you arrive late then you’re absent.”

17. “I don’t allow anyone to record my class.” Has been said by every horrible professor I’ve had.

18. Anytime a teacher asks you to write or speak about your “opinion” when they actually just want to hear their ideology repeated back to them. Not only is that bad teaching practice but it also leads to very biased grading policies.

19. Anything related to “there will be material on the exam we do not cover in class.”

Had a math professor for calc II that just talked about the theory of calculus the entire class period, then we had to learn everything on the exams from the book.

Awful. Drop that shit immediately, find a different prof.

20. Has a PhD, yet cannot hold the class’s attention and consistently goes off on tangents.

Gets frustrated when students ask questions in the middle of said tangents.

Gives unusably vague guidelines on major assignments.

21. If the teacher makes any wildly personal comments on the first day, for example my philosophy teacher who told us all about his crazy ex wife the first day of class. That was a HUUUUGE red flag I should’ve ran from right away. He was a very emotional guy and graded people’s tests on how he felt about them/how much they participated in class. All tests were either essays or short answer questions, so no multiple choice to fall back on. It sucked. Several people did poorly simply because they never talked in class.

22. Spends the first 15 minutes of every class telling pointless stories about their personal life, to the point where you have to either drop the class or just accept the fact that you’re paying $200+ to hear stories about her cat.

23. If you can’t understand them because English is not their first language.

Not worth sticking it out.

24. If they mention that they are about to get tenured. Had a prof. who was trying to get tenured so was constantly gone to present different research he was working on, so he missed probably 20% of the class.

25. If you sit through the first 1-2 lectures and seriously don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

26. If you’re in college and have an instructor who spends as much or more time talking about themselves and their achievements as they do the course material then you better run. Unless it’s your capstone. In which case stroke their ego and get ready for an easy A.

27. When a tenured prof shows up to the first day of class late and seemingly hungover.

28. “I don’t believe in curves.”

29. If they treat the class like a high school class.

Had a professor proclaim NO CELL phones or she would take them away. Attendance was mandatory and if you are not going to be in class without telling her she will assume your lazy and fail you.

30. A group project worth a substantial amount of your grade.

Fuck group projects.

31. I had a teacher that was consistently late for every single class. It wasn’t 5 minutes late, it was more like 30-45 minutes late every time.

When students wanted to complain about her tardiness to the department, she would respond with, “Go ahead. I have tenure anyways. It won’t do a thing.”

32. “You should take this teacher, if you just show up for the final he will give you a passing grade.”

Fresh out of HS me thought that this sounded great.

First day of class, 45 chairs in the class are all full and there are people lining the wall to get in. Fast forward to the final, me and maybe 10 other people attend. I pass the class, even though the teacher was awful.

This was precalculus. I show up to Calculus the next semester. First class, “We’ll review the stuff you’ll need to know from your pre-cal class to succeed in this class. Here’s a practice worksheet.”

I couldn’t do a single problem, I had not learned a thing from my precal class and knew that I would have to retake it. In the long haul it pushed me from my science major to a liberal arts major. Would not recommend.

33. If the instructor casually says dumb, inappropriate shit.

Look, I’m all for an environment in which instructors can have fun, relate to students, not just teach course material out of a textbook. Those teachers are awesome. When I say “inappropriate”, I don’t mean telling a few jokes here or there.

I mean: talking about his “dog-faced” ex-wife on the first day of class. Yup. Good chance the dude is a huge narcissist who will waste time patting himself on the back instead of teaching, and designing tests to purposely trick students just so he can feel clever about being right. (Only had this happen once, but the guy was the worst.)

or I mean: when a teacher tries to be too relatable, tries to sell him/herself outside of an educational context, and eventually sends you a Facebook message earlier asking if you want to come by his place later. For some drinks. When you’re 18 years old. (Also happened to me!)

34. “I’m not grading any assignments this term, your grade rests entirely on the final exam.”

35. I once had a professor say, “You get 2 absences this semester. More than 2 and you fail. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is.”

Sorry, with older relatives who were sick and dying… and not being a psychic myself to know whether or not I’d get sick or if I’d forget to set an alarm, or any number of unforseable things… that level of rigidity and unwillingness to compromise isn’t worth it.

36. “I’ve never taught this before so I’ll be learning along with you.”

37. No one will get an A in this course because (insert some philosophical highbrow bullshit answer).

38. There’s a HUGE waitlist of students for a different section with a different professor.

39. When they really put down good students for small mistakes.

40. When the teacher doesn’t even explain anything, he just goes on youtube and shows the class a video and everyone is left without a clue of what is going on. I dropped computer science because of this, and I’m glad that I did.

Also, when the teacher hardly ever explains anything and insists in “independent research” , more like “I can’t be asked preparing lessons so just go ahead and do it yourself”.

41. The use of McGraw-Hill Connect if the class isn’t absolutely necessary.

42. 2-hour, in-class, pre-recorded PowerPoint lectures from 2008, ‘because it saves time for me, and please don’t ask questions until after the end of my PowerPoint’.

43. Professor claimed she didn’t allow people to step out of class to use the bathroom. “You’re all adults, not children, you can hold it.” Exactly lady. We’re adults, we paid to be here, and adults have to use the bathroom.

44. Was a freshman in college, needed to get some science credits with a lab… took geology because I wanted to try something besides bio, that I just took in high school. The teacher gave a speech the first day of class about how it gets under her skin that people take Geology because they’re required to take a lab and just “assume” that it’ll be an “easy A.” So, she said “this class will NOT be an easy A!” And then proceeded to make it hard as fuck. Like make it challenging so people will be engaged, but make it nigh impossible to pass just to prove a point.

45. “I haven’t quite finalized the coursework and grading so I’ll be adjusting them as we go along.”

Surprise assignments, surprise tests, way too many group projects. I should have known.

46. Tenured Organic chem Prof: “Any questions?”

50 hands go up.

Prof: “It’s a fairly simple concept, so you ‘ll get there. Let’s move on.”

47. “No laptops, all code will be handwritten.”

Yes that really happened.

48. Class of 80 averages a 40 percent on a test Prof: That’s what they get for not learning the material!

49. Personal experience, I literally dropped 4 classes my sophomore year ….

Prior to starting the classes the disability department contacted all of my teachers to tell them that I am deaf and that I would need some form of written/typed paper to follow along with lectures.

“I’m completely deaf…”

“Sit closer, I can’t give you special treatment.”

50. Over the winter break of my freshman year I was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disease in my knees which meant I had to use crutches for a while (then eventually a wheelchair for a time). I was late to my philosophy 101 class (due to adjusting to my newfound limitations). I apologized for my tardiness and tried to find my seat without making a fuss. As I was making my way across the classroom my philosophy teacher remarked, “Everyone, let’s just patiently wait for the cripple here to get to his seat.” It’s possible she had believed I was one of several skiing injuries that the student body had incurred over winter break, but either way after that first day I never came back to that class. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

January Nelson

January Nelson

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.