I offended my professor and I am super anxious about how to handle it

hello everyone,

i am a current student, a senior, taking biology 1. Basically I work in a lab and have helped out in the class before and emailed my professor about a potential lab excuse. I think I really offended him because I received a pretty mean email back. I spent all night crying about it and answered him back apologizing and saying I understand. Should i do anything more? I feel so bad, this was never my intention.

The professor should probably not respond in a “mean” manner. I am not sure what you might be referring to. But I would talk to an advisor or dean if the professor’s response was not appropriate. Was your lab excuse health related?

What do you mean by a potential lab excuse? What do you think might have caused the offense?

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What is a “potential lab excuse”?

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Hard to advise when your post is very vague but if you apologized, it sounds like you can try to move on.

My suggestion is to not take it personally.

All of us are humans and have our good and bad days. Your prof could have been having a bad day when they are otherwise nice. Blow it off if so. It’s not you.

Some humans can be more mean than not which is unfortunate, but happens. It’s helpful to know it’s not you and what I tell students to do with these situations is learn what they don’t want to be like when they get into a leadership (or whatever) position. Blow it off. It’s not you.

And then on the other side, perhaps you did write something bad. We all make our own mistakes at times when something could have been worded better. No brain is perfect. Learn from your mistake and move on. It’s typical for our brains to learn more from our mistakes than it does from our successes because no one likes failure. It’s tougher to put it out of our mind, but each time it comes up remind yourself that you’re human - just like everyone else. You’re normal. We all have those moments. You’ve apologized and that’s the best you can do.

Stress will lead to more bad things, so it’s not worth stressing over. That is a biggie. A lesson we all need to learn as we age is we all make mistakes, but life goes on. We’re not awful because we made a mistake or encountered someone mean or having a bad day. Treat yourself to something you like - a comedy show or something. Your “lesson” is learning to move on. Best wishes to you as you work through it. Sending hugs…


As a professor, I often have to be blunt and tell my students “no.” It isn’t “mean.” I just had a student ask if an absence would affect their grade. I simply responded with the truth which is that yes, an absence for any reason can affect a students ability to show they are meeting or exceeding course learning objectives. I need to be fair to all my students and I refuse to categorize which excuse is more valid than another.

You should do nothing more. The professor likely isn’t even mad at you.


It’s hard to interpret tone in an email and profs aren’t likely to add smiley faces, etc., to their messages.

I recommend just moving forward and assume that you misinterpreted the tone.

I had a student email me to say she was going to miss all of Thanksgiving week and was I really supposed to say “that’s ok” or “good for you.”