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Classroom Etiquette

Conducting yourself appropriately in your college classrooms shows your professors that your courses are important to you. It also shows respect to your professor and your classmates. However, if you are a new student, you may be uncertain as to what behavior is appropriate. This uncertainty can spring from the differences in the college and high school environments.

If you are seeking more direction on classroom etiquette, follow the guidelines below:

Being Late
Try to avoid arriving late whenever possible. However, there may be times when lateness is unavoidable. If you know in advance that you will be late, inform the professor. It is important that you let the professor know that being in class is a priority for you and that you would not be late if it were avoidable. Be sure you apologize and explain why your lateness will unavoidable.

Some professors have rules against arriving late and will not allow students to enter the classroom late. If your professor has a rule against tardiness, you may still request special permission to arrive late. If your professor denies your request, be sure to remain respectful.

If you arrive to class late try to enter the classroom as quietly as possible to avoid interruption. Select a seat in the back or on the end of a row where you will not have to cross over people. Do not walk in front of the professor. If you need to get to the other side of the room, do so in the back of the class or exit and enter through another door.

Eating or Drinking During Class
Unless the professor has specifically told you eating is allowed in class, it is best to avoid it. The smell of food and the noise associated with eating can be distracting to your classmates and your professor. If you think you will be hungry during class, eat a meal or snack before class. If you have a health issue requiring you to eat during class, discuss it with your professor before the first day of class.

Bringing water or another beverage to class is usually acceptable. Be careful not to spill it and not to be distracting when drinking.

Talking to Others
With the exception of class discussions, it is best not to talk during class because it can be distracting to both your professor and fellow classmates.

Phone Calls and Digital Devises
It is best to turn off your phone during class. Even a vibrating phone can be distracting to others.

If your phone rings, do not answer it. Turn it off as quickly as possible. If it will not interrupt class any more than the ringing phone already has, apologize for the disruption.

Do not send text messages during class. Even though it may not make noise, is considered rude. It is also distracting to others. Even if you hide your phone, it will not be noticed if you are texting. In addition, do not play any games on your phone or other electronic device during class.

If you want to bring a digital device, such as a laptop or tablet to class for note taking, it may be a good idea to discuss your professor in advance. If your devise becomes a distraction for you (e.g., you start surfing the Web or checking your email), you will need to put it away and take notes on paper.

Going to the Bathroom
Visit the restroom before class so you are less likely to have to go during class. If you think you might have to go to the bathroom during class, try to select a seat in an area where you are less likely to interrupt class if you do have to get up.

Packing up Your Books
Wait until the professor has dismissed class to pack up your books and other materials. When students pack up their belongings before the class has ended, it creates a loud noise and other students are unable to hear the rest of the lecture. If professors unwittingly runs past class time, it is all right to let them know in a respectful manner.

Leaving Early
Plan to be in class for the entire length of it. If a situation arises where you know you must leave class early, discuss the situation with your professor in advance.


There is a great deal of freedom found in most college classrooms, which is in stark contrast to most high school environments. If you are a new student, this new found freedom may cause you to be uncertain about what behavior is appropriate in your college classrooms. Use the points above for specific guidance to help you you determine appropriate classroom behavior in college.


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