Success in academia is, usually, predicated on following the rules. Obeying the dress code, honestly passing quizzes, or getting to class on time will keep a student in good standing with the faculty. However, obedience is not always the key to staying out of trouble. The truly smartest students are the ones who manage to rise above the system by noticing its flaws and shamelessly taking advantage of them. Several people who were able to find a loophole in their school's policies looked back on the experience and shared it with Reddit. This might be a good time to start paying attention, class.
"We had one teacher that made a point of always going around at the beginning of each class and checking everybody's homework. My French was not good and I did not like homework.
Before class started, I completely emptied my table so it looked like nobody was sitting there that day and, shortly before he arrived at my desk, I would go and wash my hands or bring something to the trash. He would just pass my table every time, no questions asked. I was scared that this would not work for the full year, so I started another strategy.
I would stay at my place but, as soon as he came to my table, I would ask him a question about something that was not homework related. I would keep asking some questions until there was nothing to follow up anymore and then get up and go to bring something to the trashcan or to wash my hands. Worked like a charm."
"I took a 'survey' course in college. It basically amounted to a course the school was planning to offer in the future, but gave the professor an opportunity to fine-tune the curriculum before officially offering it as a class. It was an easy enough course. I got my credit and went home happy.
The following semester, the course went 'live' and was offered under a different course number, but the description was identical. I signed up, never attended a class, took the final, and got my credit again.
It was the same professor, but the first class was maybe 15 students. The second class was more like 150. If she was going to recognize my name in a list that long with anonymized grading and cross-reference that with last semester's survey course, then she would have deserved to catch me."
"In high school, our science class had one of those projects where you had to build something to prevent an egg from breaking after dropping it from six feet above. The assignment sheet literally said 'fall six feet without breaking.' This particular teacher was a stickler for following instructions and would often take points off for little things like not putting the date in the preferred format on stuff.
On the day of the project, one of the kids who had no obvious egg catching contraption walked up to the front of the class where the measuring device we used that day was. He lifted his egg up about a half a foot above the six foot marker, and dropped his egg. It splattered all over the floor. The teacher told him he was getting an F.
'Why? The egg fell six feet without breaking,' that smug legend replied.
I wish we had camera phones back then because the look of realization on the teacher's face was epic. The teacher tried to tell him that was not what he meant, but we all reminded him about 'always following instructions.'
He gave him an A. The following year, the instructions were much more precise."
"My high school had a stupid rule that banned you from attending prom if you went to a Saturday detention that semester. I got in trouble and was assigned to Saturday in the D-Hall, but my girlfriend really wanted to go to prom.
I just kept skipping it and they kept adding more until they rolled it into a day of actual suspension. They had no rule barring you from prom for an out-of-school suspension, so I got a day off and took my girl to prom."
"Back in college, the law that banned open containers of adult beverages had lapsed during finals week. Someone in the county government forgot it was expiring and renewal was not put onto the Board of Supervisor's agenda in time.
Word spread to the college town adjacent to campus rather quickly. A group of drinking-age students bought a keg, rolled it down the street, and planted it right in front of the little police outpost for an impromptu kegger.
The entire week or two during the lapse was great. There was far less stress and animosity between students and police. They still stopped and carded kids to verify they were legal to drink, but the tension between them was non-existent. Sadly, everything went back to the confrontational status quo between students and law enforcement a couple weeks later when they renewed the law."
"My high school was trying to get more people to register for AP classes. They modified the student handbook to say that if you took the AP exam, you would not need to take the final exam for the corresponding class. I was not in any AP classes, but I found out that anyone could pay to take the AP exam.
I wrote a check for $200 and sat for every AP exam, without running it by teachers. When they asked why I had not been coming to class during 'review week' for the finals, I told them I was electing not to take them. They obviously thought I was inebriated. Most of them just laughed at me, until I told them I had taken the corresponding AP exam for their class. Then, almost all of them seemed to get offended.
Essentially, all of them said, 'Nice try, but you're taking my final.' The only exception was Mr. Rogers, my American history teacher. He was more impressed that I studied the student handbook enough to know my rights.
I appealed to the principal, Mr. Zalaski. He said that all of my teachers and I would have to meet with him and go over my grades, attendance, and discuss if I should take the finals in each class or not. I showed up to the principal's office on the date and time established. All my teachers were waiting outside his office. I was 10 or so minutes late. I figured, let them wait. I went into Mr. Zalaski's office and, one-by-one, each teacher came in to explain why I needed to take their final.
But, I came prepared with my student handbook, with the relevant section highlighted which plainly stated, 'If a student takes an AP exam, they do not have to take the final for the corresponding class.'
I don't think I even said anything. I just opened to the page of the handbook and handed it to Mr. Zalaski and my teachers. One-by-one, they left his office, all bitter, sore losers."
"My university was trying to encourage people to walk. If we downloaded a specific health tracker that was connected to our student account, it would convert steps into points. The points would get you stuff like free coffee, mugs, discounts for stuff, and the most expensive prize: a university hoodie which costs about £30.
The health tracking app was pretty basic. It would not let you log your steps manually. However, it did let you connect with other health apps. I found a health app that would let me add in steps. I logged in an equivalent of 50 km a day. In a few days of logging manually, I would get myself a hoodie or two and I didn't get caught.
Then, I told my friend about it. He really perfected the method of getting more steps a day. Apparently, there was a hidden physical limit to how far a person can walk in a day, but he managed to trick it by setting his height to be 1 cm. The shorter you are, the more steps you need to take to cover the same distance.
In the end, he claimed about 10-plus hoodies. He would just get them for anyone who asked. The university found it suspicious, so he received an email saying that the activity had to stop unless he could provide evidence that he walked that much.
Another friend of mine had a different method. You could get points just by being friends with someone on the university health website. He also found that he could access a list of everyone who had an account in that website. He made a python script that automatically sent a request to everyone, earning him points."
"My high school gave out a bunch of scholarships when I was a senior. I was the only one who applied for the 'Young Democrats' scholarship and I got it. I was also the only one who applied for the 'Young Republicans' scholarship. I got that one, too.
They were all given out at a big assembly at the end of the year. They read off the recipients in alphabetical order.
'The recipient of the scholarship for the Young Democrats is - ' they announced, ending with my name. There was a polite applause. I got up on stage and got the check.
Then they said, 'The recipient of the scholarship for the Young Republicans is - ,' once again, ending with my name.
I had to turn around and walk back across the stage and get that check to a lot of good-natured laughter at what I had pulled."
"My school had a reward system for good grades and good behavior called swag bucks. At the end of each quarter, you could trade them in for prizes (movie posters, dollar store toys, a Wii). They were just a heavy stock red paper with a Times New Roman font on them.
My mom worked for a printing company at the time and I printed a ream of them. I made a bit of money selling them to other kids. Shortly after I hatched this genius plan, the school banned them because we were playing poker with the fake money. A teacher found out when one very misbehaved student had enough bucks for a Wii and some DVDs after pulling straight D's.
If he had that level of forward thinking, I imagine his grades would have been better. He could have done us a solid and not ratted out the poker game, though. We were getting pretty good for 11-year-olds."
"I went to a Catholic school with uniforms. We got 'jeans day' passes to wear jeans. The passes were always different colors, including white.
I took one white pass, took it to a copier, copied enough to fit one page, printed one full page of passes, and then printed mass stacks of pages. I made a lot of money selling them out."
"At my high school, we had to wear a button down and a tie to class every day. One of the kids realized that they never specified what kind of button down it had to be. He wore a Hawaiian shirt to class with a tie. Technically, it met the dress code, so it stuck.
Pretty soon, most of the school started wearing Hawaiian shirts with ties to class. We looked like a bunch of ridiculous Jimmy-Buffet-goes-Mormon-school types, but it was worth it to spite the system. They changed the rule to ban Hawaiian shirts a week later."
"In the third grade, one day, our teacher had to leave the room for some kind of emergency and left one of the students in charge. It was the 'teacher's pet,' of course. The teacher said that we were not allowed to talk. If we did, we would have to write 'I will not talk in class when instructed not to' (or something like that) 100 times.
My friend and I were bored, so we started writing out said punishment. When we were finished, we proceeded to talk to each other until the teacher returned. The student left in charge was not sure what to do. It was hilarious."
"My teacher was giving us instructions for a group project. Our exchange went like this:
Teacher: 'For this project, you will work in groups of less than seven.'
Me: 'Sir, one is less than seven.'
Teacher: '... OK, fine. Do it all yourself then.'
I got 70% on that assignment, the highest mark I ever got in group work."
"When I was a freshman in high school, my geology teacher told us we had to make a presentation about igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic types of rock. He explicitly said that he did not care how we did our presentation, but it needed a visual.
I asked him to specify how much he did not care about the content of the presentation and what was allowed to be up for interpretation. He clarified that I could do a song and dance for my presentation if it was relevant to igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.
I did an interpretive dance. Relatively no effort, a sprinkle of shame, and a reluctant A-."
"When I was in college, I really wanted to keep up my musical hobbies as I was not doing a music-related degree. The music department would occasionally grant applications to non-music students to use their facilities, so I applied to see if I could get access to their pianos. I was classically trained and qualified and I didn't think it would be an issue.
Sadly, they rejected my application on the basis that their rooms were always in use, fully booked, and they had to give priority to their music majors. As time went on and my studies got more intense, I felt pretty bummed out that I couldn't just chill out and play piano sometimes.
One day, I had a class on the other side of the campus. As I was leaving the building, I could hear a piano in the distance. I walked toward where the sound was coming from until I found myself at the front of the music room building. It was literally a block of floors. Each floor had half a dozen rooms, each one with a piano. As I walked toward it, someone held the front door open for me, which required a key pass that only music majors had access to. They must have thought I was heading in to practice. I went along with it and walked straight in.
I surveyed the entire building to find that almost none of the rooms were being used. I, therefore, not only had access to the music rooms but a whole choice of pianos as well. As one could imagine, I felt pretty sick that I had been lied to about the availability of the music rooms. They clearly just lied. As someone who was paying ridiculous fees for my education and as a student who should supposedly have access to everything that his university has to offer, I started taking advantage of this situation.
Every day, I would wait outside the music building, waiting for someone to innocently walk out while I pretended to walk in. On certain days, no one would come out for a long time. At that point, I would knock on the windows of the ground floor music rooms and say, 'I forgot my key pass. Do you mind opening the door for me?' They would always very kindly open up and never bothered to question if I really was a music student. As this went on, people got to know me. The fact that I could also play piano made it less suspicious that I was just some nobody up to no good. Eventually, it got to the point at which the tables would turn.
It turned out that students did indeed forget their key passes. On several occasions, I got knocks on the window while I was playing piano. In other words, music students were asking a non-music student for access to their pianos. This went on until the day I graduated. One could imagine the shocked faces of the friends I made from the music department on graduation day when they saw me receive a degree in a completely different subject."
"In my high school, we had a rule stating that if you lost your book, you would get a new one. If you did not return it before the end of the school year, you would have to pay for the book.
In the first few weeks of school, I 'lost' my books. Eventually, I acquired a stack of books to keep at home and also had a stack I kept in my locker. I never had to drag a heavy backpack to and from school."
"My high school required you to attend a certain minimal number of classes a year in order to graduate. If you missed too many days, they made you go to 'Saturday School' to make up missed days. Saturday school was actually great. It was just half-days of sitting quietly and reading a book.
In any case, I realized that they did not track when you were absent and when you did Saturday school. I would just go to every Saturday school to build up credit so I could skip days later in the year whenever I wanted."
"In high school, we had some choice in which classes we took, but not too much. In all four years, we had a mandatory 'study hall,' in which you had to go and sit quietly in a classroom and pretend to be busy, even if you had no work to do.
I convinced the administration to instead let me take courses from the next grade up, but nothing with prerequisites I was currently taking. I then proceeded to take community college courses over the summer that were listed as equivalent to the last year's courses I was missing without telling them.
In California, as long as you take all the required classes, you can graduate high school once you are finished with a full diploma. When I brought in all the documentation and paperwork to graduate a year early, they were peeved. They apparently knew about the program, but actively hid the information and attempted to dissuade parents when it came up. They lose money when someone does that. I filed the paperwork anyway and graduated with distinction in my junior year.
I managed to save a year of my life for $100 in community college courses."
"My college required two semesters of either: Biology, Chemistry, or Physics, provided that those were not your majors. One could imagine how intense things got in the second full semester of Biology. Or Chemistry.
Upon closer inspection of the course book, there was a fourth option: two semesters of something called Earth Science. This turned out to be four HALF semesters: one each of Astronomy, Oceanography, Geology, and Meteorology. One could imagine how easy the coursework was for a half-semester of any one of those topics.
While all my colleagues were slaving away in a 200-level Chemistry or Biology course, I was coasting doing a mere half-semester course on fun stuff like Meteorology or Astronomy."
"In my high school Biology II class, we had to catch a certain amount of bugs and pin them onto a board. About 80% of the bugs (the most common) were worth two points, 15% were worth fives points, and there were a few that were worth ten points. The rarer the bug was, the more points you would get for it.
The biology teacher gave us about 25 pins which was plenty enough to get a 100% on the project. Because it was a public school and everyone was super cheap, the teacher said that at the end of the semester, for every pin you returned, you would get one point of extra credit. You could 'keep' the collection that you had worked on for a whole semester or disassemble it and get extra credit for returning your pins so the teacher could reuse them for the next semester's class. Everything was pretty clear and written out on the project handout.
I went out and caught a handful of bugs. We were given nets and other gear we would need. It was actually fun! Then, one or two weeks into the bug hunt, I went to a craft store with my mother to get a 'bug pinning collection starter kit.' It came with a net, some stuff to 'kill' the bugs with, pins, a magnifying glass, and other random stuff. It got me thinking... Next to the kits, you could buy 100 insect pins for $5. I asked my mom if I could borrow $10 to add to the $5 I had on me. I ended up buying 300 pins.
When the day came to turn in and present our bug collections, mine by far had the fewest bugs pinned. Most people thought that I had caught some rare bugs and that's why my collection was so small. When it was my turn to present, I listed off my handful of common bugs. The teacher sort of gave me that look of disappointment, asking why I did so poorly.
I told him that I had extra pins to turn in to get extra credit. Still, with some confusion, he said he did not think I would have enough pins to get a decent grade.
'How many pins do you have to return for extra credit?' he asked.
'300 Pins, not including the 25 you gave us,' I replied with a smile.
At first, he was sort of mad, but he ended up taking the extra pins as extra credit. He told me he had been doing this for eight years and that was the first time someone went out and bought extra pins just to get extra credit. The following year, the new handout explicitly outlined that you could only use 20 pins at most as extra credit."
"My brother got free parking for pretty much his entire time at college.
It was that golden period when the pay parking kiosks were able to accept credit cards, but before they were actually connected. They would read a card and check it against a locally stored list of banned numbers. Once a month, the meter maid would download the transactions, process them, and update the blacklist.
My brother found that they would accept prepaid gift cards if they were backed by Visa or MasterCard, but they could not check the available balance. He would buy a prepaid gift card and use the balance up on whatever. Then, he would use the card for parking until the end of the month when it would get processed, was found to not have funds, and was banned. Rinse and repeat.
The guy saved, probably, $2,500 over his degree."