In this week’s installment of his 15-part series, Matthew Flocco offers freshmen a bit of classroom etiquette advice.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
This has become the mentality of the job market more and more as we roll forward into the 21st century. As more people complete higher-level education, and as technology like the Internet levels the playing field, the skills we are equipped with in college seem to be only a part of how we get a job.
What are you waiting for? Start to get to know people. By now you have probably chosen a seat in the classroom or lecture hall. And if someone else sits in it, even though he or she is completely entitled to, you are probably miffed.
My first bit of advice is to change up your seat once in a while, especially in a lecture hall. You never know the friend you might make sitting next to you. Moving around also keeps you on your toes and gives you a new perspective on the class, literally.
If you like skipping class, moving around will help the professor not notice you. If you participate in class, it might help the professor see you are not afraid to try new things.
I have lingered here long enough, just like you have in that seat.
The best piece of classroom etiquette I can provide is to talk to your professors and teaching assistants. Get to know them. Are you in a lecture of 400 people? Go up to your professor after class and introduce yourself. Go see her or him during office hours. Shoot your T.A. an email with questions. Is it sucking up?
But you know what? Do you really care enough to give up a potential job opportunity? Who do you think writes letters of recommendation? Who do you think knows the most people in your field of interest? Who do you think knows past students and alumni that have the same interest areas as you?
Now I’m not saying get to know a professor simply to suck up to them. Honestly get to know the ones that intrigue you. Professors are people and were students once. Teaching assistants are a happy medium. There is so much opportunity there just to talk and get to know them.
Last but not least, get to know people in your classes. Do not discount the ones in the general education classes, either. You never know who you may have something in common with.
Furthermore, you never know who you are going to be working with or for in the future. Get to know the person next to you. If you reach out your hand, or just say “Hey what’s up? I’m___” the person may respond enthusiastically. If he or she does not, then okay. You’ll be embarrassed for possibly one minute.
A word of caution when it comes to networking: do not just do it for the sake of networking. Networking should be some level of genuine friendship. If you are just getting to know someone, and all you can think about is, “How will this person help me in the future,” you are doing it all wrong.
There are more than 30,000 students on this campus. You never know which one will be your friend or who will get you a job.
Matt Flocco can be reached at