San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Keeping class in the classroom

Three Students Taking a Test
Getty Images/Fuse

Now that the fall semester is in full swing and unofficial classroom seating charts have been established, college classroom etiquette needs some attention. The classroom is a place of learning and it’s best to treat it with some respect, not only for your professor, but for your fellow students, too. Here at The Daily Aztec, we have compiled some rules to remember from Emily Post’s etiquette. Whether you’re a first-time college student or you simply need some reminders on how to be a likeable classmate, the tips below will be of good use.


All instructors have different teaching methods and require different approaches to note-taking. Notes can be taken on a laptop or in a notebook. Whatever one’s preference, be sure to include items not listed on the PowerPoint. Students wishing to record in-class lectures should check in with the instructor first. In the state of California, recordings require both parties to consent. Recording lectures on one’s phone or a tape recorder might be beneficial for those inevitable drift-off moments.

Laptop usage

The Emily Post Etipedia on college classroom etiquette warns to stay away from spending too much time on Facebook or other non-class related things on one’s laptop. Nearby students will look at your screen and probably read emails over your shoulder. This can also produce a domino effect and inspire others to venture onto their social media outlets. Additionally, the Internet is a vast world of distractions from Buzzfeed articles to online shopping. It’s best to avoid Internet browsing while in the classroom.

Instructor’s rules

There are some instructors who are laid back; there are some who are not. It’s in a student’s best interest to learn which type of professor they have early on. If an instructor explicitly states something in the syllabus, it’s every student’s job to adhere to those standards—whether or not the syllabus was actually read. One professor at the University of Iowa even went so far to include dress code suggestions in her syllabus. Most San Diego State students don’t have this issue but it’s still best to be informed of the syllabus in its entirety.


High school is built on its rules. In higher education, college students enjoy more flexibility. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Instead of disrupting class to ask if you can use the restroom or take a phone call, simply quietly leave and return. It’s one thing to distract yourself on Pinterest, but please keep conversations between friends for outside the classroom. Those who only come to class for personal conversations should be respectful of their fellow classmates and either choose to spend the lecture at turtle pond or be quiet. Nothing is worse than struggling to pay attention in a general education class with snippets of last week’s gossip interrupting geology lectures. Students arriving late should do their best to come in quietly and find a seat. Everyone is late from time to time but punctuality should be a priority.


Chances are most instructors won’t mind if students eat in class. However, it’s important to be discreet and not eat something that’s loud or pungent. Sounds and smells can be a distraction to other students. Crunching, lip smacking and unwrapping are all sounds better left in lunch room. Heavy smells are also an annoyance to fellow Aztecs. Meals that include stinky things like tuna, onions and so on should be enjoyed at home. Students who do chose to snack in class should be sure to clean up their area before leaving the room. No crumbs left behind is a good motto to keep in mind.

Asking questions

Asking questions can be a crucial part of classroom discussion when done in the appropriate manner. However, the opposite can be true as well. Examples of good questions address due date, clarifications, information not listed on the syllabus and more information that concerns the entire class. Personal comments or inquiries should be taken up with the professor after class.

If nothing else, Aztecs, just be respectful.


About the Contributors
Kelly Hillock
Kelly Hillock, Editor in Chief
Kelly Hillock is the editor in chief for The Daily Aztec for the 2015-16 academic year. She is a senior studying  public relations and English here at San Diego State. Previously, Kelly served in many roles at The Daily Aztec, such as the features editor, public relations specialist, copy editor and senior staff writer. For questions or comments, contact Kelly at
Chelsea Baer
Chelsea Baer, Staff Writer
Chelsea Baer is a journalism junior with a minor in Spanish. She started as a features staff writer in 2013 and is currently a contributor for The Daily Aztec.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Keeping class in the classroom