The Mannerly Student: College Classroom Etiquette Tips

The start of a new semester is always a good time to review a few College Classroom Etiquette Tips:

 1. Don’t assume your laptop is a welcome guest – While many universities encourage you to bring your laptop to class, it’s not a universal theme with all schools. Professors are often concerned with the use of laptops in class because odds are students are actually on Facebook when they say they are taking notes. Imagine that! Your professor should specify on the first day, if not, ask.

2. Turn it off – Disruptions such as a cell phone going off, head down and texting, or one ear bud in your ear while listening to your favorite tunes is not a welcome addition to class. Your undivided attention is most respectful and responsible.

3. Monday morning blues – Repeatedly missing your Monday morning class with multiple excuses for your absence will soon fall on deaf ears when you are captured on FB living large on Sunday evening or eating breakfast at your favorite restaurant at the same time you are supposed to be in class.

4. Your prof’s name is not Jim until he says so – Until you are asked by your professor to call him or her by their first name, err on the side of caution and address them with their proper honorific, Dr., Ms. or Professor. While college campuses are often more casual than high schools, it is up to each instructor to guide you as to what they prefer to be called.

5. Dress appropriately – PJ’s and house slippers are not for the classroom. Even if you can get away with it, think of the image you are projecting when a professor is determining how dedicated you are to the subject. If you are on the fence between pass/fail, you have a better shot at pass if you are not sitting in class in your underwear.

6. No such thing as “fashionably late” – If class starts at 10:00 am, be in your seat by 10:00 am…not 10:05 or 10:15. Again, the impression you make is paramount to your future success. Your professor can be a mentor, a job reference or your worst nightmare when it comes to securing a job, an internship, a scholarship or a vote of confidence to another teacher or future employer.

7. Snack with discretion – While you may be running from one class to another and your stomach is growling to the tune of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, pick food items that don’t have an overpowering smell or make a nasty mess. A tuna salad or Frito pie are not on the top 10 list for obvious reasons. There should be no smell, sound or onion bits left behind when you leave class.

8. Choose your seat wisely – A corporate tip that applies to university students, select a seat within the first three rows of the classroom. You will definitely be noticed if you are sitting in the last row, last seat with one foot out the door. The message it sends is that you are not interested and not involved. While you don’t have to sit in the front row, the second or third row is still a good showing of being in the game.

9. No bells or whistles – If you have an alarm on your watch, turn it off. It’s annoying to hear a beep every half hour to remind your professor that you are a clock watcher. Checking your watch every 15 minutes to see how long you have left sends the message that you are anxious to get out of class because you have something better to do.

 10. Avoid monopolizing your professor’s time– If you would like to have a lengthy conversation with your professor or need clarification on a certain topic, make an appointment to meet after class. Don’t linger after with a list of questions that you could have easily asked in class and everyone could have benefited from.

11. No video or recording unless approved in advance – Nothing should be taped unless you receive prior permission from your professor. And certainly, don’t put anything on social media that has not been previously approved by your professor or the department head. When in doubt, ask.

12. Treat your T.A. with courtesy – Though your class’ teaching assistant may be your age, offer the same respect you would the professor. They are there to help you with the assignments, not hand out the answers—bribing them with Twinkies generally will not work.

Good luck this semester!

For more of my university tips, visit The McCoy College of Business at Texas State University.


Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.


  1. Yolanda Rodriguez says

    It’s great to be focused and have organization and discipline to achieve goals, thanks.

  2. says

    It is a great information topic and also have an excellent proposal because we can be focused and discipline to reach our target in every single class.


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