The 15 Commandments of Classroom Etiquette

college student chairThere is a certain way to behave at the office, at your neighbor’s barbecue, at church and in the classroom. This is “college classroom etiquette.” These unwritten rules of the classroom ensure a favorable learning environment for all students.

1. Who’s older and wiser? You and your college professors will most likely be a few years apart, with you being older. In all probability, the situation will be demeaning at first, but oftentimes, you’ll find a good friend in him or her. Use these circumstances to your advantage. They could clue you in on “surprise” quizzes or throw some extra credit homework your way if you’re not doing too well in class. But by no means should you date a professor, single or otherwise. It’s unprofessional for them to do so and the people upstairs could reprimand them for it.


2. Far-fetched ideas in a far-fetched world: Sometimes, you will hear things in class that will make the hairs on your nape stand at attention, the professor slipping in a life lesson or has veered from the “truth” path. It’s called preaching (Nope, you’re not in Sunday school). They can’t help it because their graduate degrees have given them license.

It’s okay to raise your hand and disagree, though not in a patronizing way. Respectfully. For example: “Excuse me your royal highness–” Let’s start over: “Pardon me professor, I’ve read or heard that this, this, and this were more effective ways of handling it, sir/ma’am.” Saying “sir,” “ma’am” or “professor” will let them know you recognize their honorable status as authority figures, but you’re respectfully disagreeing with them. If they have an ounce of dignity, they might even respect you for it. However, which can also happen, they would clamor through their desks for a yardstick and clobber you with it!


3. Raise your hand when you want to speak in class, but don’t speak all the time. Give the other students a chance to shine. The last thing you want is a frothing-at-the-mouth young adult miffed at you for your know-it-all behavior. Extend them some courtesy or they can make your life a living hell.


4. Class participation, in most cases, is somewhere around 10 percent of your final grade. Professors want you to ask questions, and look puzzled from time to time. The trick is obviously to have read the homework material beforehand. You can’t participate if all you did last night was flop yourself in front of the television. So if you’re the shy type, it’s time to pull a Kenny Rogers or Diana Ross recital in front of the mirror at least two months in advance. A fiddle or an Afro wig is optional. But getting the maximum effect to rid your shyness is your goal.


5. Seating location in a classroom is prime real estate. Move your feet, lose your seat doesn’t apply here. It’s an un-written rule that where you sit on the first day of class is your seat for the remainder of the semester. I haven’t figured out why this weird phenomenon happens, although I have fallen victim to stool theft.

a. Four sections exist in a classroom: the front (translation: near the professor), the back (as far away from the professor as possible), the window seat (‘Did I put enough money in the car meter?’) and the doorway (‘Is he finished? ‘Cause I’m going to be the first one out of here!’).

Professors tend to play favoritism to those who sit in the front. They are very serious about their college education. And these students deserve “A’s,” *wink*. As you can imagine, back-seaters are the scum of the earth. You and I both know that if you show up late, you’re doomed to the bottom-dwelling heathens. The professors don’t see it that way, although they’d tell you otherwise (even though I’ve had professors admit to me in private that they didn’t think highly of back-seaters).

The door area of a classroom is the line of fire. Tardy students stroll in up until 20 minutes before the class is over. They’ve missed lecture; they haven’t turned in their homework assignments; They’re doomed to the back-seat area and they don’t know what’s due next week. Let’s take a moment of silence for the death of their satisfactory grades…


6. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed anywhere on the college campus grounds. That includes beer. Try not to sneak any into your coffee mug either (they know about that one too). If you’re caught, you could be expelled, which could put you back to square one: a college dropout.


7. Cell-phone talking during class is downright rude. Tell your cardiologist you’ll call her back. Even if the kids call, let the voice mail get it. They’ll learn to share the remote control and take turns watching their favorite cartoons.

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