Kurt Vonnegut Jr. played himself in a cameo for the film in which he is hired by Thornton Melon to write a paper on the topic of the novels of Kurt Vonnegut. As a joke, recognizing the work as not Melon's own, Professor Turner tells him, "Whoever did write this doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut."
Rodney Dangerfield always looked out for younger comedic talents. He was a big proponent for Sam Kinison's part as a crazed professor in Back to School. They also considered Jim Carrey, but he was rejected as too young. Later when producer Chuck Russell got the chance to direct The Mask (1994), he was finally able to use Jim Carrey, transforming the Mask from a "very dark horror film" to a comedy.
Alice Cooper's song "The Great American Success Story" (on the album 'Constrictor') was apparently intended to be the theme song. Its lyrics summarize the plot and include "he don't get no respect", and the chorus leads off with the phrase "back to school." The song was not used in the film, and there is no mention of the connection in the liner notes of the album.
Due to Rodney Dangerfield's contractual obligations with the Miller Brewing Company and his appearances in Miller Lite beer commercials at the time, only Miller beer was allowed to be shown in certain scenes (when Dangerfield goes to get a beer out of the refrigerator during the party at his house and during the large party at the college when the police arrive with extra beer).