Students disrespect professors by ditching class early

We can all agree that lectures can be a little boring. It can be especially hard to pay attention when the professor is soft-spoken or continues talking after class time has ended. I know many students agree with me because, lately, I have often seen my classmates get up and leave class before the professor has finished speaking.

Even if a class is not what you hoped for, even if the professor bores you to tears, in general, professors deserve your respect. Most of them are experts in their field, especially here at NYU. All of the faculty have done something to deserve the privilege of standing in front of us to share their knowledge and wisdom.

When students simply get up and walk out of class, it sends a clear message to the professor: your lecture is not worth my precious time. If your parents were there, it would send a clear message to them: this class isn’t worth your money.

Students start filing out of some of my lectures five minutes before the class is supposed to end, so this isn’t a matter of the professor taking up too much time.


I love the camaraderie between professors and students at NYU. I call nearly all my professors by their first names. But there is a fine line between being comfortable with your professor and showing them disrespect.

It is already poor etiquette for most of us to Facebook chat or look at pictures of cats during class, but leaving the room while the professor is talking is simply rude and disrespectful.

Professors do bear some responsibility. It is their job to make the material interesting enough for students to want to stay and learn. Professors should see students leaving their classes as a sign that they are not holding the students’ interests. Still, boredom is not an excuse to simply get up and leave.

Of course, I understand that many students have legitimate reasons for leaving class early, such as appointments that they need to keep. I assume that these students let the professor know in advance that they can’t stay for the duration of the alotted class time. But seeing students leaving lecture halls in droves well before class finishes leads me to conclude that many are simply skipping out early. Whether it’s because students are bored or because they feel they have something better to do, in the end, the professor is disrespected and students miss out on important class time.

Next time you realize you only have five minutes left in class and start packing your things, remember the work that your professor put into his or her lecture as well as his or her career just to get to that point. Remember that the last five minutes could contain the most important material. Remember the thousands of dollars we pay for each class at NYU.

Try to stay in your seat a little longer. It won’t kill you, and you just might learn something.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 19 print edition. Jessica Littman is deputy opinion editor. Email her at [email protected]



  1. Gimme a damn break. You professors think because you earned a doctrine you can demand people to sit in front of you and bow down. no sweetheart this world is filled with debt and other things going on. People are realizing College isn’t what it seems to be.

  2. Nobody’s demanding that anybody “bow down”. If you were talking to a group of people — or anyone — you would feel disrespected if that person simply got up and left, too. Clearly you’ve never done a job where you “give” to other people. Even if you don’t like teaching, you still have to give — your attention, your time, your expertise, your ability to problem solve on the spot, your empathy, etc. So to be in the middle of doing that and then to have some lazy entitled brat who can’t sit still for three more minutes just get up and walk out… that’s so disrespectful that it makes my blood boil. They’re the same a-hole kids who demand that the professor make A, B and C changes to the curriculum or teaching style because “university is a business and I’m the customer”. No, university is training. Trainers know what trainees need, not the other way around. Professors aren’t untouchable or perfect, but they’re miles — no, lightyears — ahead of any student of the topic they teach, so realize that and shut up and let the professor finish the lecture.

  3. I know this comment is late, but I completely disagree with many of the things you’ve said. The issue many students harbor against their professor is the fact that they themselves do not care about the class. Many professors are at the University solely for research purposes and put no effort at all into preparing their lectures. Many graduate students that also lecture are just doing it for the extra cash.

    It isn’t about just leaving because you’re bored, it’s that a student can spend their time more efficiently and effectively somewhere else. Why stay in a lecture that your professor put no time in to preparing for and where nothing is being learned?

  4. I agree with James. Honestly, I pay for this opportunity. If my time is needed elsewhere, you bet I’ll spend it elsewhere. Last time I checked, as long as you understand and learn the material with OR without the professor and do well on exams, nobody would look at you differently.

    Work and college are similar but different situations. Its not up to the professor to determine how you should spend your time. Just make sure you spend it on the right things.


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