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The Annoying Things Students Do

During the summer semester I had a chance to work on a speech that has been bouncing back and forth in my brain for some time. It is a curmudgeonly spiel, tentatively titled either “This Is College” or “What the [insert any expletive here] Are You Thinking?”

I’ve added some language to my course documents, trying to explain things that just drive me crazy. Of course, the biggest offenders are those who don’t even read the papers I give them, so this doesn’t help much. I’m in my mid-30s, and my students this term seem impossibly young. I can’t imagine what it will be like when I’m at the end of my career. For now, these are the things I simply cannot handle from pupils without getting myself all worked up:

  • “They told me I didn’t need a book.” I don’t know who “they” is, but we do use textbooks in this class. This is not unreasonable. Please don’t act as though it is.
  • Asking me for paper. Really? I know we are at a community college rather than a research university, but I’m pretty sure you have been expected to have a sheet of paper and something to write with for your entire educational career.
  • Texting. Not even quiet, sneaky texting. Obvious texting, then laughing or sharing with someone else. Just. So. Tacky.
  • Excessively casual behavior. I live in the Southwest, so my standards are already much more lax than, say, in an Eastern city, but still I have students who take off their shoes, unload a six-foot circle of accoutrements, or turn in ripped scraps of paper for class work.

The essence of my rant is this: People, you chose to be here. How about acting like it? There’s a section in my textbook for nonnative students that covers American higher-education expectations. I’m thinking of taking some time with it in class to clarify things I had assumed were common sense and courtesy. I’ll certainly keep you posted if it succeeds.

What are your pet peeves about student behavior?

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