College Classroom Etiquette

Now that you are starting college there is some college classroom etiquette that you need to be aware of. College is not like previous school experiences, and the environment is more casual and open to ideas and opinions. This does not mean that common courtesy and respect can be disregarded however. Each student in class is paying money to receive an education, so you need to be respectful of everyone.

Behavior in class which is rude, that is in poor taste and not conducive to learning, or that is otherwise unacceptable may affect your final grade, and the way your fellow students feel about you. Below are some tips on college classroom etiquette that can help you understand what is acceptable, and what is not.

Cell Phones - Cell phones have become a necessity to college students, but this does not mean they are welcome in class. Either turn the phone off or leave it at home. Answering a call during class is rude to the instructor and distracting to the other students.

Addressing the professor in a casual manner or getting personal - College is much less formal than high school, and many professors encourage a casual relationship in class. Do not take this too far however, and always show respect when addressing the professor or discussing anything in class. Keep your questions and comments to class and course material, and do not get personal.

Frequently arriving late or leaving early - If a class interferes with your work or sleep schedule do not take it. Some students will take a class and then need to arrive late or leave early on a regular basis. Not only does this disrupt the class and irritate the instructor but you also miss out on valuable resources and discussions. Instead take the class at a time which is convenient for you and does not conflict with your schedule.

Dominating or interrupting discussions - Some students are enthusiastic, and that is a good thing. Class discussions should allow all class members to participate though, so do not try to dominate discussions or interrupt the instructor or other students.

Food and drinks in class – Each professor and college has rules in place concerning whether or not students can bring food and beverages into the classroom. If these items are prohibited then do not bring them. If your professor does allow you to eat and drink in class use courtesy and common sense. Prevent spills, and avoid any foods which are messy or have a strong odor. Other students do not want to gag on garlic or smell your tuna and onion sandwich all through class. Avoid foods which are noisy as well to prevent distracting other students.

Be prepared - When you arrive for class make sure you come prepared. Look over your syllabus before class, to make sure you have all the necessary materials and work and that you have actually read any required material for class discussion that day. Bring writing utensils, required textbooks and other class materials, and a mind that is alert and ready to learn.


  1. Heather Reed says:

    I sit next to a very experienced, interesting fellow student in an introductory college level Human Services class I am attending. During class discussions the two of us like to pick each other’s brains about the topic being discussed. In an unobtrusive fashion it allows us to share our ideas and experiences in addition to hearing the spoken class discussion. Is doing so, quietly and unobtrusively, any breach of college classroom etiquette?

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