By Joseph Garcia —

It’s an irresistible urge that has plagued most of us since high school: peeking at our cell phones every chance we get.

Freshmen, take caution because if you haven’t noticed already—college is entirely different from high school. Electronics polices vary from professor to professor and if you simply skim over your syllabi, there’s a good chance you might overlook it.

Many classes rely on phone and computer usage, including some taught by communications professor Karen Freberg.

“In my Intro to Strat. Comm. class, we use TopHat (an audience polling app), and the students need to have their phone and computer to be able to answer questions and get participation points,” Freberg said.

Not every professor has the same ideology as Freberg. Ask any upperclassman and chances are they’ll recall a horror story of being called out for having their phone out in class or witnessing it happen to someone else. It isn’t pretty.

“I remember a girl was sending a quick text to her mom during a class, and the professor saw and actually docked points from her grade. The whole class was shocked, and everyone was too afraid to put their phones anywhere but in their backpack,” senior Samuel King said.

Art history professor Christopher Fulton believes phones and laptops hinder learning and requires students take their notes with pen and paper.

 “I do this to prevent students from texting friends and family while class is underway or otherwise being distracted from ongoing discussion or lecture,” Fulton said. “It is absolutely a hindrance. There are very few occasions in which [phones/laptops] are helpful.”

Fulton said that doesn’t mean phones and classrooms should never mix.

“Of course there may be courses in which these devices can be beneficially used, depending on the course material and assignments. None of my classes, however.”

Fulton also suggested students experiment with other forms of note-taking.

“You might be surprised that it works well for you.” Fulton said.

Meanwhile, Freberg wants students to know there’s a time for checking your phone and a time for learning.

“A text message, social media update, and email will always be there—it’s best to put forth your full attention and respect to the professor and fellow classmates,” Freberg said.

Photo by Arry Schofield / The Louisville Cardinal