10 Negative Behaviors That Can Affect Your Grade

Here's a collection of the most offensive student behaviors that rile professors and can seriously affect your grades.

While most of our focus is on the positive activities and behaviors you can incorporate into your life as a student, this article focuses on the 10 things you want to avoid -- because partaking in them can seriously affect your grades.

What are the most offensive student behaviors that rile professors -- and can seriously affect your grades? We think you'll be familiar with most of them, but hopefully you do not see yourself in them. (If you do, now is the time to change your behavior!)

Avoid These Negative Behaviors

  1. Being Unprepared for Class/Not Participating in Class Discussions. There's really no excuse for not being prepared for class, and if you consistently go to class unprepared and unable to add to the class discussion, your grade could take a major hit. The solution? Use a planner or some other calendar system to keep informed of reading assignments.

  2. Submitting Late Homework Assignments. There's always an academic penalty for handing in a late assignment. In fact, some professors will not even accept late homework, resulting in a zero. If you have a problem with getting your work in on time, consider giving yourself earlier deadlines to get it done -- so that you still end up completing it on time.

  3. Skipping Homework Assignments. Some students never even bother to submit their homework. Perhaps it's because they're embarrassed they missed the deadline, but students should always submit their work. Even if they get a zero for that one assignment, they'll show they can do the work. If you missed a deadline, ask your professor if you can still submit your work -- even if just for the feedback.

  4. Talking in Class (or Other Disruptions). One of the most disrespectful things a student can do in class is talk openly with other students -- or cause other distractions that take away from the learning environment. Some faculty will make you leave the class if you are constantly talking. If you're the chatty type, the best solution is not to sit near people you know -- and keep your comments for class discussion, not private conversations.

  5. Failing to Follow Instructions. Students who ignore the professor's directions stand to lose doubly -- first, in receiving a much lower grade on the assignment; and second, in being perceived as someone who does not care about the class. If an instructor goes to all the trouble to write explicit directions, it makes sense to follow them to the letter. The easy solution here is to make sure you read and reread instructions before jumping into assignments.

  6. Skipping Class/Arriving Late Consistently. Many professors have an attendance policy, and some also have a tardy policy. Miss too many classes and you begin to drop whole letter grades. Arrive late one too many times and lose participation or other points. You can't learn the material if you're not in class, so make it a point to attend -- and to get there on time. If you have a class right before that always gets out late, make sure your professor knows the reason you often arrive late.

  7. Playing on a Tablet or Cell Phone During Class. During those times when you have to sit through as really boring lecture, you might be tempted to pass the time checking your email, texting someone, or otherwise occupying yourself with something other than the lecture, but that's really just an excuse to do inappropriate behavior. Even the most boring lecture can be packed with key information you need to learn, so you need to find a way to stay actively engaged with it, possibly by asking questions or fueling an intellectual debate. You made the effort to attend class -- now make it beneficial.

  8. Displaying Poor/Negative Attitude. Just about all college programs have required courses, some of which might not be your favorite -- and you may even feel angry about having to take a class in which you see no benefit or value. Regardless of your reasons, you should never have a poor or negative attitude toward the class -- it will not only affect how the professor views you, but your poor attitude will also negatively affect your own performance.

  9. Arguing for Better Grade Late in the Semester. Professors generally like students who strive for improving their performance and their grades, but the time to do that is early in the semester when enough assignments are left to make an impact. Some students wait until the very end of the semester, often begging for extra credit (which is very uncommon at the college level) with the excuse that if they don't receive a certain grade, they may lose a scholarship or ineligible to play sports. The easy solution is to meet with the professor early if you're struggling and find a way you can improve your performance.

  10. Failing to Take Responsibility for Actions. The excuse of choice for many poorly performing students is blaming anything and everything -- but themselves. Rather than accepting responsibility for their situation, they blame a roommate, power failure, previous teachers. College is about moving into adulthood, and with that new maturity must be a sense of personal responsibility for your actions. Yes, there might have been a power failure, but if you had not waited until the very last minute to try and complete the assignment, you could have completed it. So admit you made a mistake by procrastinating.

Final Thoughts on Negative Behaviors That Rile Professors

These 10 negative behaviors can have seriously bad consequences on your grades, and not just for your current classes. If you build a reputation as a bad student, that reputation will follow you in every class.

Of course, it's never too late to change, so if you see yourself in one or more of these 10 bad behaviors, take action to change for the better.

Besides the 10 negative behaviors mentioned above, you should also be aware of these five annoying behaviors -- which may not hurt your grade, but will annoy or anger your professor:

  • Asking questions that could easily be answered by reading the syllabus. You waste the professor's time and make yourself look foolish when you ask questions about an assignment that is clearly described on the course syllabus. The solution? Read and know the syllabus.

  • Skipping scheduled appointments or complaining about not finding professor in his/her office. One of the big professor pet peeves deals with students who make appointments and then skip them. One of the next biggest? Students who email profs to tell them they stopped by their office to see them but could not find them. The solution is to see the professor during his/her scheduled office hours.

  • Asking whether you are going to miss anything important if you skip an upcoming class. Most professors want to answer this question with a sarcastic response, but the truth is of course the student is going to miss something. If you need to be absent, a better way to ask this question is to review the syllabus and meet with the professor about what you'll be missing.

  • Asking whether you missed anything important when you return after missing a class. If you don't know why this question is annoying, refer to the previous point. Instead of asking this question, get the notes from a classmate and then meet with the professor to make sure you have all the key points from the missed class.

  • Showing a lack of respect for your professor or classmates. Think of the Golden Rule in this situation. Treat your professor and peer classmates as you want to be treated. Instead of making fun of people or disregarding their opinions, treat others with the respect that you want to be treated to.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key academic terms by going to our College Success Glossary

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Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He has been a college professor for about three decades.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.

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