Professors tend to sound a bit overdramatic when they discuss their technology policies at the beginning of the semester, especially when they throw in that “It’s very distracting to your fellow classmates” line. But it’s true: As a pen-and-paper kind of notetaker, I consistently find myself drowning out lectures so I can focus on reading the Twitter updates on the screen of the person in front of me.
We all have those classes that make us think we may actually die from boredom, but not being able to refresh your News Feed isn’t going to be the final straw that kills you. It is possible to sit through an entire lecture and take notes on a laptop without scouring the Internet or checking text messages. Students (hopefully) come to class because they want to learn, not because attendance counts toward the final grade. It goes without saying that learning isn’t going to happen if students aren’t paying attention.
A college education is obviously far from affordable, so it’s really a waste of time and money to do anything other than stay focused in class. Granted, it’s not always easy — and having a world of distractions at your fingertips certainly doesn’t help — but students who spend their time scrolling down websites are essentially paying thousands of dollars to sit in a room with Wi-Fi for a few hours a day. You can do that for about five bucks at Starbucks without distracting the people around you. Because it is distracting to look forward and see pictures of cats instead of notes.
It’s also incredibly disrespectful to the professors. They teach, inspire and prepare us for the future on a daily basis; all they want in return is our attention for the duration of the lectures. It’s not asking much. Some have their ways of keeping students on track, whether they require typed notes to be emailed or have teaching assistants monitoring students’ screens from a distance. And while it may seem like such policies are made specifically to annoy students, they’re actually here to help. Still, professors shouldn’t have to treat college kids like children when it comes to classroom etiquette. As young adults, we should know better by now.
Students need to learn how to focus without habitually checking the time, their texts and every form of social media. Anything on a phone or laptop can wait. I’m sure we all have things we would rather be doing than listening to a professor, but listening is without a doubt much more beneficial than Internet stalking. Besides, there is plenty of time to do that outside of class.
Making the most of time spent in the classroom is up to each person. It’s your time, money and education — whether you take advantage of it or fritter it away is your choice.