"Not a college professor, but I worked in my university’s writing center for a while.
I had a girl come in with a research paper bibliography that listed “my mom” as a source several times.
When I pressed, she told me her mom looked up everything and sent it to her and she just…put it in the paper. She told me she had always done it that way."
"Once had identical twin sisters who turned in identical essays. Both were directly plagiarized from a Google search and received identical zeroes."
"Not me, but a friend who taught in the politics department received a paper about ‘gorilla’ warfare in South America. It was so poorly written she couldn’t tell if it was a typo, or if they genuinely thought Colombia had been overrun by a Planet of the Apes style revolution."
"I once spent an hour explaining to college junior that an even number is divisible by 2."
"I teach at a community college that doesn’t actually require a high school diploma to attend, so I’ve seen a lot. Mostly it’s native English speakers who are virtually illiterate. No abstract or critical thinking skills at all.
One wrote a paper about the causes of the Salem Witch Trials. She sided with the accusers because she’d “seen some stuff,” clearly not understanding the assignment.
Another insisted I approve every word he wrote to “make sure he was doing it right,” when in reality he was wanting me to feed him answers since he didn’t do the reading.
Yet another wrote in a discussion board about Lord of the Flies, “I like how they saved all the flies. That was my favorite part.” If you’ve read the book, you can guess the look on my face."
"Not a professor but in undergrad I was taking an American history course. Our professor was from Maryland and was probably in her early forties. This kid asked her if she was one of the pearl harbor survivors. He couldn’t grasp the fact that she was very much not alive at that time and that Pearl Harbor was not a harbor in Maryland."
"In the final year of high school I had to intervene during a pratical exam when a student attempted to heat a plastic petri dish of water using the blue flame of a bunsen burner.
That student is a PE teacher now."
"I had a student include numerous emojis in a term paper.
A different student came to my office a week after the final, and asked me why she had failed the course. She hadn’t turned in a single assignment, or written the final."
"Professor at a middle of nowhere medium sized state school with a 80-ish% acceptance rate. Had a graduate student who couldn’t code for the life of him but was a software engineer at an undisclosed incredibly large aviation company. He couldn’t accept that other students who didn’t have jobs were better than him and that the people grading him “didn’t have jobs”. Sent death threats because we failed him on an assignment where his code didn’t run.
He complained to the higher ups and got a C."
"Student handed in a 1-page essay of complete gibberish. Like, utter stream-of-consciousness of a gerbil on LSD kind of garbage.
After receiving an F on this assignment, this muffin had the audacity to come to my office hour and demand that I explain this grade to them. After I walked them through their river of word-garbage, they tried to tell me that I just didn’t understand their writing because I am not an English native speaker.
First time I almost kicked somebody out of my office."
"I used to TA physics. I had a student who had gone to a decent private high school tell me the value of pi was 2.28. I can kind of understand the .28, because that’s 2pi, but I don’t know where the 2 came from."
"For a couple years I taught first-year college students in an ENGINEERING program, the majority of whom didn’t know how to do unit conversions. Not even, like, inches-to-centimeters. To repeat … college … ENGINEERING …"
"I was a TA for two years. One of my students (outside of class) explained that she and her whole family truly believes that microwaves mutate the DNA of your food (they don’t) and mutated DNA is dangerous to eat (it wouldn’t be).
I couldn’t help myself for calling her out. It was such a strange thing that it didn’t even occur to me to be sensitive. I just said she clearly needed to take my biology class again."
"My graduate school classmate wrote “America is a country that has been around for thousands of years.” It was a group paper on social policy."
"Not a professor, but I was the person who did make my professor have that look. I asked her the question “What’s a Shakespeare?” and I was serious as I never heard of him until 4 years after I graduated from High School."
"I had a student who didn’t know what the stapler was or how to use it. I accepted his assignment as separate pages. Unsurprisingly, his writing was similarly disjointed."
"Not a professor but I was a teaching aide for a Space Systems class. Final project, the students had to apply everything and do system Engineering for a small satellite mission. One student just turned in a hand drawn picture of a cartoon looking satellite orbiting the Earth. This was a senior / Grad level course."
"One of my student-athletes literally could not recite the months of the year in order."