College Lecture Etiquette

College Lecture Etiquette

Looking for tips on college classroom etiquette? Start with a little respect for the professor and move on from there.

When you first get to college, one of the major differences you’ll notice is class size and structure. Many first-year courses are held in lecture halls that can hold several hundred people.

In these mega-classrooms, little time will be spent on direct questions and there will be almost no one-on-one interaction. You’ll get to those things in your discussion sections – which are smaller groups that usually meet once a week.

You might find yourself wondering what constitutes appropriate behavior in these large-class settings. Use these tips on college lecture etiquette to ensure that you participate in a respectable manner.


It is perfectly acceptable to use a laptop for note-taking in class. You’ll want to be sure to mute your computer – those little beeps can be very distracting for your classmates. Refrain from general Web browsing, checking email, chatting and interacting on social networks. While this should mainly be done out of respect for the professor (he or she is up in front of the class trying to teach you something), if you spend your time in class online, you aren’t learning the course material.

Cell Phones/MP3 Players

Any electronic device other than a laptop should be turned off, or at least turned on silent. If you fail to do so and your device goes off, your professor may stop the lecture to point you out. Save yourself the embarrassment by double-checking before class begins.

Food and Beverages

You can have a beverage with you, but refrain from eating in class. Chewing and fumbling with wrappers and packaging not only distracts you and other students, it may be visually off-putting as well. Schedule your classes in a way that gives you enough time to eat meals in your dorm or cafeteria.


You should pose questions only when the professor asks you to do so. Due to the large number of students in a lecture, the professor does not have time to answer questions throughout the entire class and still get through the material. Save the majority of your questions for the discussion section or office hours. If the question is urgent, raise your hand first.

Attendance and Punctuality

Your lecture class might have specific attendance requirements. In some cases, your presence may be optional. However, out of respect to the professor and the other students in the class, make sure you attend every class on time. If you arrive to class early, the professor may be able to take questions he couldn’t answer during the lecture.


You should already be familiar with the etiquette regarding basic conversation from high school. The same rules hold true in college: Don’t speak unless you are called upon or have permission from the professor.

Remember, in a lecture hall with several hundred students, it may be difficult for those in the back to hear the professor if you are making noise. Treat your classmates and teachers with respect, and they’ll do the same for you.

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