A Modern Guide to Classroom Etiquette

There is much to be said for Emily Post. She wrote the book (literally) on manners and standardized etiquette customs for the general public. I adore her books full of old fashioned advice, and while some of it is still relevant, much of it is dated. I constantly wonder what kind of place our society would be if Emily were still around to impose properness upon us all.
Unfortunately, she is not–as evidenced by many of my college classmates.
We’ve all seen those people in class: the ones who act like they’re too important to be there, don’t care what the professor has to say, rudely answer their phones and are generally a disturbance to those of us trying to learn. If you are an incoming freshman you probably haven’t witnessed such obvious rudeness, and you most certainly do not want to become one of said rude people. So, read on, my pretties, and enter the world of higher education with grace, manners and –ahem–class (haha…)
Don’t Be Cell-fish.
Gone are the days when your cell phone was contraband (absurd, I know). Instead of focusing on your under-desk texting (ala your dinosaur of an AP Chem teacher), your professor will most likely be concentrating on imparting you with knowledge during your class sessions. So this means you can feel free to text, Blackberry message, IM away with your cell held at —gasp–eye level, right?! Wrong! Your professor has assumed (rightfully, I hope) that you are a respectful and mature person who is attending (and paying for) their class to learn something useful from him or her. Do not prove them wrong by blatantly expressing that you have better things to do.
In a two hour lecture, it may be acceptable to send a brief or occasional text, but limit yourself. And never, EVER answer your phone in class, no matter how big the lecture hall is. Oh, that guy behind you makes personal calls to his bros all class and gets away with it? Yeah, he’s a douchebag. Don’t be a douchebag; excuse yourself if you must answer.
Electronic Etiquette
In addition to the awesome-ness that is your cell phone, you will have readily available another potentially dangerous device: your laptop! Your PC or Mac is of utmost importance in your college career and will most likely be tolerated in pretty much any class besides those math and science courses. However, do not be lulled into a false sense of slacker security by your comp! It’s very, very, tempting to prop your screen up and disappear for a the better portion of your class, but don’t succumb.
When you need your computer to take notes, try to focus on what your prof. is saying and add your own thoughts/ questions to his or her explanations–not only will it help you focus, but it will jog your memory while you’re studying them later!
Of course, there are those days when you’re too hungover/tired/lazy/stressed to do anything but zone out…and your class has mandatory attendance. So, if your prof is lecturing and everyone around you is click-clacking away on their keys, I give you exclusive permission to IM (no sound!), catch up on other homework, and visit CollegeCandy (hell, you never know when we might bring something interesting to your class discussion…)
Attendance and Participation
Occasionally, you will see these two words paired on your syllabus with an adorable little 10% next to them. As in, 10% of your final grade. Now this can work two ways: a) easiest grade booster like, ever or b) bane of your existence (depending on how early your class is). Attendance is pretty self-explanatory– show up, get credit, enjoy–and the best way for you to do well in your class and get your money’s worth.
Participation is slightly trickier though, but have no fear! Whether you’re outspoken or shy, there are ways for you to interact with your class. In a large lecture (many time with over 150 other people in it), participation may be limited to taking in-class surveys, making eye contact with your professor, and making an effort to look interested.
In a small class, especially liberal studies courses, be prepared to debate, discuss, make presentations and contribute to what your prof and classmates have to say.
Bathroom Pass? Bish Please.
Requesting permission to perform a bodily function is, in a word, ridiculous. So with good reason, you are now responsible for excusing yourself from class when you need to. Wait until there is a lull in discussion, a break in lecture, or your professor is otherwise occupied, then quietly and courteously leave the room, quickly do your thang, and return.
There will be times when, for personal reasons, you may want or need to leave class early. Try and give your professor a heads up before class starts, sit as close to the exit as you can, and wait for an appropriate time to slip out.
Survival of the Fittest
This is less about manners and more about your GPA. While college may seem like a dream with an average 5 class course-load compared to your 7 class or more senior schedule, just remember that these are college level courses (obv)!
If you took any Advance Placement or IB classes in high school, you can expect the same amount of reading material and study time for your college classes. If this is your first experience with college level learning, be prepared to dedicate about 2 hours for every hour you’re in class per week to study for that class. Of course this varies, but it’s a good rule of thumb to keep up with your assigned reading material and whatever is being covered in your textbook.
Leave enough time for yourself to study for quizzes, tests and exams so that you’re not panicked, stressed and cramming. Personally, I like to cross off at least one assignment before I get ready on nights when I go out. By assigning (and beating!) a deadline for myself, I feel like I have good reason to party hard.
Finally, make good use of your school’s library! Here at FSU, we affectionately refer to our library as “Club Strozier”. If you can round up a group of friends to have study dates with, it makes going to the library that much easier and wayyy more fun (like a gym buddy!) Bonus: you’ll have someone to go on Starbucks runs with, and you can pass notes about the hot guys you scope out on study breaks. Mmm, library…

Sexiling: Yes, You CAN Be Tactful About It
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