Classroom Etiquette for Students

Listening to your instructor and classmates shows respect.
... James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images

College classes vary in size and formality, and although some professors establish guidelines for behavior, many classes don't have explicit rules. However, violating classroom etiquette can create distractions that prevent you and your classmates from learning. Treating your instructor and other students with respect contributes to a positive learning environment for all. It may also help you earn a higher grade and develop a better relationship with your instructor.

1 Beginning Class

Students arrive on time or a few minutes before class begins. They use the restroom and collect any necessary supplies, such as homework, textbooks, computers, notebooks and pencils, prior to arrival in class. Once class starts, students stop personal conversations immediately. Late arrivals quietly take a seat near the door they enter rather than walking around the classroom.

2 Using Electronic Devices

Cell phones are turned off or switched to silent before class starts. Students do not text or take phone calls during class as it distracts other students and is disrespectful to the instructor. If you must use your phone during class -- for example, if you are waiting for a phone call from your doctor -- you can inform your instructor in advance and sit near the door. Asking for permission before recording or taping classes shows respect and courtesy to the professor.

3 Respecting Other Students

Students should avoid dominating the conversation, ensure that all students have an opportunity to talk, and avoid interrupting other students when they are talking. If you disagree with a classmate's viewpoint, you can express yourself politely and considerately. Students never raise their voices, use profanity, engage in name-calling or use derogatory language.

4 Paying Attention

Not paying attention in class is rude to the instructor and distracting to other students. Students should not use their computers for anything other than taking notes and avoid reading other material, doing their homework, cleaning out their backpack or sleeping during class. Although some professors may allow drinks and small snacks in class, students should avoid large meals or noisy foods.

5 Ending Class

Students should not leave class early except in emergencies. If a student must leave early, he can inform the professor in advance and sit near the door. In addition, standing up or putting notebooks and papers away before class ends distracts other students from the professor's last words. Finally, students should take all their trash with them.

6 Communicating With Instructors

Students should communicate with instructors in a polite and professional manner. Most instructors encourage students to ask questions in class, but students should use the professor's office hours instead if their question relates to their own paper or project rather than course content. In addition, students should not interrupt instructors at lunch or during other personal time to ask questions. When emailing your instructor, you should address her properly, mention which class you are taking, use standard English and ask your question clearly and briefly.

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.