Can I Have My Money Back?

I’ve just had a very shocking experience. My students are writing an exam. One of the students, let’s call him Peter, finishes and hands in his exam 35 minutes before the end of the class period.

The students continue writing their exams. Suddenly, the door opens and Peter returns to the classroom.

“The exam was hard!” he announces loudly and aggressively. “Can I drop the class and have my money back?”

“You can go to the Registrar’s Office and withdraw,” I say quietly to try to minimize the commotion.

“I want my money back!” the student insists.

I stare him down very aggressively and he runs away.

What the flying fuck was that, people? I’m really not ready for students badgering me for refunds because they didn’t prepare for an exam.

17 thoughts on “Can I Have My Money Back?

  1. You should report the incident to student’s affairs. That kid seems not to be very stable. It may seem a little exaggerated, but an attitude like that against the professor…? I would understand that he gets angry at somebody at the Registrar’s Office, but to you? I don’t know, I may be a little paranoid.


  2. I would be inclined to be sarcastic, saying that people like him need all the money they can get, because they’re never going to be able to survive on brains alone.


    1. Re: customers:
      I had once an incident when a couple of international students tried to make an argument that since they are paying higher tuition fees, I should not be as hard on them as I am. It was not an issue of me being harder on them than on somebody else. Because I was not. It was purely the customer’s entitlement. I am not very politically correct person. So my response was 1/3 polite and 2/3 … well… πŸ™‚ While I expressed understanding of how hard it is to survive while paying international fees, I noted that a) they are buying my time, not any particular grades and b) I do not get any more money if I have international students in my class, my salary is fixed.


  3. Update on the “Refund Student”: So the exam continues and then the student runs back in even more agitated. I can’t talk to him because students are still writing the exam. So I make him sit down in the corner and stay there in silence while the students finish the exam. After everybody leaves, we discuss why he freaked out for a long time.

    Eventually, the student apologizes, thanks me profusely for being patient with him and leaves.

    Does anybody wonder anymore why I need to let out steam on the blog? One needs a lot of patience not to blow up when people accost one in class demanding refunds.


  4. You should still report the student. He is clearly on the brink of something and maybe someone can help him – an advisor, a counselor, and so on. Do you have an academic advising center?

    I have had situations where students have these outrageous emotional outbursts, and usually I take it, and am patient, and they end up crying and apologizing – but they still need help. So once they get to the tears part I tell them where the campus counselor and academic advising centers are and then I file a report. It’s in their best interest.


  5. It seems that all reporting now is just CYA. In the past I could report and it would mean some help would arrive, both for the student and for me. This is no longer the case.


      1. If he lives on campus you could talk to his hall director. His RA would be in a position both to talk to him, and to keep an eye on him. I know this is an extra step to take–but part of an RA’s job is to be a peer adviser. It kind of worries me that he’s having a meltdown so early in the semester.

        This is all moot if he lives off campus, of course. I hope not.


  6. I just saw this…I’ve never heard of something like that happening before, but I believe you. He sounds emotionally unstable. Where would someone get the idea that they can demand their money back just because they are ill-prepared for an exam, let alone creating a scene. Is that how it works now? I can’t even imagine what he was thinking to blurt out an inappropriate comment like that, indulging in a melt-down.

    I agree with Pish Posh–he needs help and it would be in his best interest.


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