Classroom etiquette in college can be very different from high school. Like learning to live with a roommate, it’s a change that you’ll have to adjust to.
From putting away your cell phone to keeping your cool during classroom discussions, there are a few essential rules every college student should follow.
Remember, you and your classmates are paying for college. You’re probably paying a lot (or at least your parents are)! These pointers on classroom etiquette help make the classroom a positive place to learn – which means you maximize the value of your college education.
Do turn off your cell phone.
Get into the habit of turning your phone off. Ringing cell phones, buzzing cell phones on vibrate, the sound of text messages coming in, the sight of someone furiously texting while the professor is talking – all unnecessary distractions.
Some people hate turning their phones off because they want to be able to see missed calls (I know because I’m one of them). However, if your phone goes right to voicemail, anyone calling will assume that it’s off and will either leave a message or call back later. Trust me.
Don’t surf on your laptop.
Any college that once boasted about how its entire campus is wireless must be cursing that decision by now – I’m sure at least the professors are!
If you bring your laptop to class to take notes, then use it to take notes. Messaging with friends or catching up on celebrity gossip during class makes going to the class totally pointless. Don’t get lost in class because you’re overloading on distractions.
Do show up on time.
Showing up late is disruptive and, frankly, it can be embarrassing when you walk into a 200-person lecture ten minutes after everyone has settled in. This can especially be true if you happen to enter through the door at the front of the room where the prof is standing. I speak from personal experience.
Showing up late also hurts you, since you’ll miss parts of the lecture and any administrative details (like changed exam dates or assignment specifications) that are usually shared before the lecture.
Eating in class is annoying — the rustling wrappers, the sound of chewing — and just distracts you from the lecture. Plus, how are you supposed to take notes if you’re busy scarfing down a burger?
Some people would also say that drinking is a don’t, but I think it’s okay as long as you’re not slurping up the last drops of your soda with your straw. And, obviously, as long as whatever you’re drinking is non-alcoholic!
Do raise your hand.
Raise your hand if you have questions, and participate in class if your professor wants to have a discussion. You’d be surprised to know how much participating in class can benefit you.
Just make sure not to monopolize the discussion – be respectful and don’t interrupt your classmates. Some smaller schools with smaller class sizes may be more lax about raising hands but, as a rule, it’s best to raise your hand unless your prof specifies otherwise.
Don’t raise your hand when …
One time not to raise your hand is when you have to go to the bathroom. Your professor didn’t spend five-plus years earning a PhD to have his or her lectures interrupted by students needing to go to the bathroom. You’re not in preschool – just go!
Ideally, you won’t have to interrupt class by getting up and leaving and coming back, but if you do have to go to the bathroom, just slip out as quietly as possible. It’s one of the great liberties of college life — and great college etiquette to boot!