Starting college means getting used to a lot of new things: living in dorms, class lectures, and writing papers worth 30% of your grade. One of the things that can make the adjustment to college easier is developing good relationships with your professors. I’ve come up with a few do’s and don’ts for professor communication and classroom etiquette.
Unlike high school, college professors are not just at SU to teach. They also have their own research, and many of them work outside the university. College is a privilege, not a given, so professors are less likely to tolerate immature behavior then your high school teachers were. As such:
DON’T text during class. In a small classroom, it may seem like your being discrete with one hand on your notebook and the other under the desk, but these people have PhD’s- they know what you’re hiding. It may be difficult for a professor to see you texting in a large lecture hall, but you’re still distracting yourself from the important information that WILL BE ON THE EXAM!
DON’T surf the web during class. Some of your professors will allow you to bring your laptop to class. It’s very tempting to check Facebook or see how your fantasy football team is doing, but if your professor catches you, they won’t hesitate to call you out in front of everyone. In large lecture halls, a lot of professors have teaching assistants spread out through the audience, so even if your professor can’t see your screen, it’s possible a TA will.
DON’T pack up before the end of class. The rustling of papers three minutes before class is over is annoying and disruptive. This sends a message that you are not interested in what the professor has to say and are just watching the clock until you can leave.
DO proofread emails. Email is most professors’ choice way of communicating with students. Professors are very good about checking their emails. If you’re going to send an email, make sure you read through it so that it makes sense, gets to the point, and doesn’t have any spelling or grammatical errors. I’ve had professors correct my spelling in emails- trust me, it’s embarrassing.
DO go to office hours. Professors are happy to provide help during their office hours. If you want to go over a problem on a test or discuss a reading you didn’t quite understand, office hours are going to be your best friend. However, make sure you go to office hours with specific questions to ask- professors aren’t going to plan out a study guide for you.
DO participate in class. I know, I know, sometimes it’s embarrassing to be that kid who raises their hand. But this is me in every class. You don’t need to answer every question and wave your arm wildly in the air for an hour, but answering a question or two in class shows your professor that you are engaged and listening (participation points!)
This is by no means a definitive list of dos and don’ts–there’s a whole lot more, but the key idea is get to know your professor and how they run their classes. Some professors don’t mind if you eat a snack during class. Others find it disruptive. Take note of what your professors expect from you. Remember, your professors are not only your ticket to your education, but also potentially important networking connections. Who knows, you could be reaching out to one of your favorite professors in a few years for a letter of recommendation, so make your time in class count!
Samantha is a junior majoring in public relations and policy studies. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends.