Living@Guelph - Choose Your Own Adventure Living
Professors' Pet Peeves:
How to Receive a Less Than Enthusiastic
Letter of Recommendation

By William W. Nish, Georgia College

Editors' Note: Please realize that this article is written in a very sarcastic tongue-in-cheek style. Don't do something on this list and then say "Living@Guelph told me to". We'll deny it.

  • Always be ready with reasons why you are an exception to the rules established for the class, such as the dates for submitting written assignments.
  • Avoid taking examinations at the same time and under the same conditions as the rest of the class. Be certain to take it for granted that the professor will give you a make-up exam at your convenience, regardless of your reason for missing the exam.
  • Be very casual about class attendance. When you see your professor, be sure to ask, "Did I miss anything important in class today?" This will do wonders for her or his ego. By all means expect the professor to give a recital of all of the things you missed instead of taking the responsibility for getting the information from another member of the class.
  • Be consistently late to class and other appointments. This shows others how much busier you are than they are.
  • Do not read your assignments in advance of class lecture and discussion. This actually allows you to study more efficiently, for you can take up class time asking about things which are explained in the reading. To be sure that you get the important, information you can adopt a look of pained confusion when the professor refers to points made in the readings; this will prompt her or him to go over them again.
  • Avoid using the professor's office hours for making an appointment. Instead, show up when she or he is trying to finish a lecture before the next class hour, and explain that you must see her or him right that minute. It is especially desirable to say, as you enter the office, "Are you busy? This will only take a minute." Then ask the professor to help you write a petition to exempt you from English Composition I.
  • Do not participate in such mundane activities as departmental advising appointments. Instead, wait until the last minute for approval of your schedule, and then expect the professor to be available at your convenience.
  • An especially good strategy is to go to the office during lunch hour when you can be fairly certain she or he will not be in class. But, when you do not find the professor, be sure to report to the dean or registrar that you have not been able to complete your registration advising because you have been looking for your advisor for three weeks and she or he is never in the office. If you do meet with your advisor, be sure to come to the advising session with no idea of what classes you need or want to take so that your advisor has to do all of your planning for you. Never bring a class schedule or college catalog to the advising session; always borrow the professor's and then leave with it.