I am a final year honours student (UK) who has come across a little bit of a predicament. About eight years ago when I was a teenager, I was undertaking a University course that I did not complete because of personal related issues. There was a lecturer that I did not get on very well with at the time because of this who I knew both from that and also from my previous school days. We had an argument once or twice; I was fairly young at the time.

When I started this new course a few years ago, (which is at a different University) I committed to achieving as much as possible, and I have managed to get a 'first' overall in terms of averages for years one and two. However in my final year it turns out that one of the examiners for my final year project is the same lecturer that I described above in the first paragraph (even though it is a different establishment).

So the question really is, should I have a reason to worry? Would under-performance as a teenager result in an unsettling experience or a bias of marks when it comes to the day when the viva is to be presented? My friends tell me that my worries are irrational as eight years is a long time and teenagers often under perform, but when I started to see if anyone else had this problem, I could not find any existing questions, and everyone on this community looked to be helpful in providing advice. If you could share any enlightening thoughts, it would be very much appreciated!

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    I highly doubt the professor has been holding a grudge against you for eight years, ruminating the day when he will get his revenge on user3149699. This really sounds like an irrational fear that you just have to accept as irrational.
    – Compass
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 20:02
  • 3
    Do you have any reason to believe the lecturer even remembers you? It's a hard truth, but what you remember as a bad fight in your teenage years was for the lecturer probably just job routine, a discussion of which every lecturer has plenty each academic year. As long as you did not run over his cat or set his office on fire, I think you will be fine.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 20:14

3 Answers 3


Anybody who has taught and likes teaching knows that one of the biggest rewards is seeing your students grow. From your description, it sounds like your only problems in your previous encounter were age-typical lack of focus and brattiness. If you are now a much more mature and polished student, then more likely than not, if the lecturer remembers you at all, it will be to your advantage when they compare with the kid they taught so many years ago.

  • Yes, you are probably correct there. The lack of focus that I did have when I was younger has been removed and I now have a vision of where I would like to be in the future. I think my irrationality is derived from the amount of effort that I have put in to making this degree work out and realising that I might have to face the past by explaining/defending my previous behaviour. I was probably incorrect to believe that penalisations can occur as a result of this, and the scenario you provided is very likely to be more accurate as an outcome. Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 15:25

I think your anxiety might be causing you to over-inflate the significance of the historical incidents (unless, of course, the nature of the arguments was deeply personal, for example). Eight years is a long time, and that person will have seen a lot of students come and go in the intervening period. It's perfectly possible that they won't even remember you; if they do, you might even find that you have a good laugh together at (a) how bratty you were back then, and (b) how pompous they were back then.


When I was in my first year of university, as an unruly teen, our department had a welcome barbeque for all the students, with free sausages and beer. As the event progressed it got pretty rowdy, and I got so drunk with my friends that ---on a dare--- I moonwalked through the faculty area with my bum exposed, making the beeping noise of a truck backing up. My friends thought it was hilarious. Anyway, those faculty taught me throughout my undergraduate degree, and some of them later ended up being on my supervisory panel for my PhD candidature years later. One of them recently gave me a positive reference for an academic position. So given that they had the forbearance to ignore that, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

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