6 Things To Avoid During A College Lecture

University is really expensive, especially if you’re not on financial aid. I’m not, and my tuition amounts to almost $5,000 every three months.

With that in mind, it’s clear that one of the worst things you can do to your peers is to be distracting. By distracting others, you’re negatively impacting their learning experience and thus hurting their investment.

I know this sounds dramatic, but I’ve always thought about it this way ever since I heard a classmate of mine put it in those terms. Here are six distracting things you should avoid:

1. Fooling around on the computer

Computers are a constant presence in the college classroom for a good reason, and I would recommend bringing one to help you take notes. They allow you to take notes at a faster pace and in greater detail, which really helps for tests.

The problem with this is that, with a laptop, it is really easy to get distracted by the internet and do something unproductive. While this is obviously bad for your grades, this is also distracting for anyone around you, especially if the website you’re visiting is visually interesting.

This one is worse depending on where you are sitting in the lecture hall. It’s really distracting for your peers if you sit in the very front row of class and play “Angry Birds” or stream the World Series because you’ll inevitably distract just about everyone behind you. If you must read “Inglourious Basterds” fan fiction (and yes, this is something I’ve seen someone do in class once), sit in the back.

2. Having side conversations

Speaking of the back of the classroom, this tends to happen more in the back of the classroom than the front. It doesn’t happen as much as in high school, but it can be awfully distracting for everyone around you if they can’t hear the lecture.

In addition, someone’s attempt to quiet you down can be more distracting than the actual side conversation you’re happening. Last quarter, I was in the front of one of my classes listening to the lecture while a side conversation was going on in the back. I couldn’t hear it, but suddenly I hear a voice from the back very loudly say, “Hey you guys need to SHUT UP.” This voice was also loud enough to derail my professor’s train of thought, which leads nicely into my next distraction…

3. Derailing the lecture

This is my biggest pet peeve on the list, because this one is the most detrimental to the learning process. This is also pretty hard to notice if you’re the one doing it. It’s also really tough to for me to advise against doing this because I’m worried I might turn someone off from seeking help, which is okay.

Anyway, this occurs when you keep raising your hand during a lecture to ask questions or insert your opinions on the material. It’s okay to ask a question on an unfamiliar concept or to ask a couple of questions when the professor asks if anyone has any questions, but don’t ask a lot of questions in the middle of the lecture or go and tell a story in the middle of a lecture about how the material relates to them.

This is something that tends to happen in smaller classes, but I had this happen in a 150 student lecture where a guy was trying to show off his intellect to the annoyance of 149 students. If you have a lot of questions or you really don’t understand the material, you should visit the professor after class or in office hours. You may also ask a friend as well. Just please don’t ask loads of questions while the professor is speaking!

4. Having a cell phone that’s not on silent

This is a no brainer. Don’t even put it on vibrate. That’s just as noisy.

5. Showing up late

This really depends on how late you are. Despite what punishments your high school may have had for tardiness, the first minute of class is not super important. Being a little late is more rude than distracting.

However, if you’re really late, then it becomes distracting. I took a computer science class once and – I’m not kidding – this girl would arrive 50 minutes late to an 80 minute class. That was a ridiculous case, but arriving at any point after the lecture begins in earnest is disruptive, simply because of the amount of noise you make, like from shutting the door, scooting through a row to find a seat, unzipping your backpack to pull out your notebook.

6. Leaving for the restroom A LOT

Did you guzzle a coffee or two before class? Sit near the door, please.

As an avid consumer of caffeine, I understand the need to use the restroom a lot, but the issue with this is that it’s very distracting. If you’re in the middle of a row, you need to get up, scoot in front of people, walk to the door and make noise while opening it…and then do everything in reverse on the return trip!

You end up distracting people twice in one action. The best course of action to minimize distraction by this is to sit at the end of a row, so you don’t need to scoot between people and the lecture slides. You should also take a “path of least resistance” that will get you to the door in the shortest distance.

It can be a bit of a struggle to not do all of these things. I keep leaving the classroom and sometimes I find myself fooling around on Facebook during class. However, consider your peers, who are also paying fiendish amounts of money to attend the same classes as you. Help them make the most of their investments.

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John Kesler

John Kesler

John Kesler is a senior studying communication at the University of California, Davis. If he is on campus, he can be found in the basement offices of the newspaper or the radio station. At home, he enjoys listening to whatever music he can, reading whatever books he can, and taking walks wherever he can.
John Kesler

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