College professors of Reddit, what’s your “I’m surprised you made it out of high school” story?

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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. ETA: this was in the UK and English was the student’s first language.


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.


I once got an exam essay that mentioned how much Mandela hated the Jews. After scratching my head for a bit and wondering if I’d missed some obvious signs of his anti-Semitism I realized she meant Mengele. As in Josef Mengele, the Nazi “Angel of Death.” Hard to think of a worse person she could’ve confused him for.


There have been disturbingly high numbers of students on a performance based music degree who can’t read music. Not musicologists or conceptual composers who could in theory get away with it. No, these were people turning up expecting to study western classical performance. There was even a master’s student once…


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.