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10 Tips On Dealing With A Bad Professor

10 Tips On Dealing With A Bad Professor

Bad professors fall under two categories: incompetent and amoral.  The incompetent one doesn’t know how to convey information in a palatable way that appeals to most people. An amoral professor is normally on tenure. They are in a position of authority. If you don’t tread lightly, they can make your life a nightmare (if they so choose). There is not a “best way” to deal with a professor, because professors are people. Most of them. Some are monsters birthed in Mordor.

1. Talk To Your (Incompetent) Professor

Many people will tell you to talk to the bad professor. That’s a great idea, and it may just be the prof’s teaching style. In fact, it may be your inability to comprehend the material. Profs have office hours. Go to their office and ask them for a little guidance on the material.

10 Tips On Dealing With A Bad Professor


2. Talk To Your (Malicious) Professor 

Go on Rate My Professors (if you haven’t already) and see what other people have dealt with. Chances are, you’ll see your peers dealing with the same problems. If nothing else helps, solidarity might.

Even if you sugarcoat everything you say, a malicious narcissist “who’s published things” may take offense at your even wasting their time. It can help, but it can also severely hurt you, too. You may now have a target on your back if you don’t approach it with 100% discretion. Does your name go on every test you take?

3. Talk To Your TA

Grad students will often teach parts of a class. They are much easier to talk to, and they might be just as afraid of the bad professor or be just as aware of how incompetent said prof is. See if you can get them to help you find a tutor, a study partner from within the class, or just plain cope with what’s going on.


10 Tips On Dealing With A Bad Professor

4. Find A Tutor

Find someone. Anyone. Have they taken the class before? Are they in the same class, the day beforehand? What type of tutoring does the college itself offer?

5. Learn Memory Tricks

Learning techniques that aid in memorization can help you avoid rote learning. Use the Method of Loci, the Feynman Technique, and other mnemonic techniques so that you can absorb books of information at the drop of a hat.


10 Tips On Dealing With A Bad Professor

6. Change Classes

If it’s a class that’s commonly taught by many teachers, see if you can transfer to a different class. If you need the class to graduate, and it’s a rare class—then, god help you. Go talk to your academic advisor as quickly as possible.

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7. Drop The Class

If you can take the hit, you may want to just drop out of this particular class and try again later, or if it is a class that doesn’t count towards your degree, drop it and forget about it.

8. Stalemate

If you’re taking the minimum amount of credits needed to be a full-time student and there are no other options, then you need to just stick it out and if you don’t get an acceptable grade, take it again with a better professor.

9. Talk To The Head Of The Department

This is the last, last resort. If this teacher is the devil incarnate, then stop and think for a second: do I want to go up to someone—who I’ve literally seen make people cry—and ask them something? They claim they have an open-door policy like the police claim that someone holding a spork has a deadly weapon. It’s them covering their ass.


I myself had to deal with someone so belligerent, that I went to the head of the department, explained my predicament, and the department head claimed that my professor had been mean to her (and all of the other staff) as well. But…my prof was on tenure.

10. Learn Some CBT Techniques

If all else fails, this will help you to cope with your unchanging situation. Life isn’t great sometimes. Maybe you worked really hard to get into college or you’re the first in your family to go and don’t want to let people down. Maybe you’re having problems and no one’s being sympathetic. Learn to use grounding techniques and deep breathing. Rationalize your situation in any way that makes you feel better.

How have you (or your friends) handled a bad professor? Tell us a story in the comments section below!

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Featured image via by ICSA (International Chinese Sociological Association)