December 3, 2003

As classes are wrapping up for the semester, many of my classes are closing with the class giving a round of applause for the professor. The first time this happened last year, I was confused and I still am. Is this a common practice at other law schools? In undergrad?

I can't recall an instance of ending a class with applause at Tufts, although I took many fewer large lecture courses as an undergrad. While teaching a class is a type of public performance, is applause the most appropriate response? Why not applaud at the end of every class session?

We applaud at the end of a symphony, a jazz solo, an opera aria, a lecture, a symposium or after a touchdown, so maybe the custom is not so out of place. Perhaps I'm just not used to the custom, having never seen it at any time that I can remember in my previous 17 years of school.

Posted by Andrew Raff at December 3, 2003 05:08 PM
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It happened in all my undergrad lectures at Wisco, but never in seminars or anything like that. The tradition still holds in law school; dunno why, myself. Kinda like the people who applaud at the end of Trans-Atlantic flights.

Posted by: hK on December 3, 2003 10:36 PM

At Harvard undergrad, the professor of any decent-sized class (say 30+) got a round of applause at the end of the semester. It's probably a combination of the size of the class, and the slightly cheesy comments that profs make on those occasions ("This class has meant so much to me." "You've all been great.") I assume the tradition will continue at law school, but I won't find out for another couple of weeks (Yale has finals after winter break, so our courses don't finish until the 19th).

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Posted by: Nick on December 4, 2003 10:33 PM

I vaguely recall applause at a few of my large lectures at Cornell undergrad. In particular, we applauded the professor in Psych 101, who is famous for holding the largest undergraduate lecture in the country, (2000+ students in the class.)

Posted by: Jason on December 5, 2003 09:31 AM

actually, that sounds vaguely familiar...i think maybe in intro to american politics with glaser, but that's cause he was a kickass prof.

Posted by: dahl on December 5, 2003 09:35 AM

I stand corrected-- applauding for professors at the end of a semester in large lecture class is common practice in the higher ed universe. (I did think of one instance of my classes from undergrad-- Intro to Yiddish Literature. Otherwise, small classes meant no applause.)


Posted by: Andrew on December 7, 2003 11:08 PM

In my university studies in Denmark, if the professor he was really good, the men would clap, and the women would give him a lewinsky. Very respectful for a semester of hard work.

Posted by: Johannes on December 9, 2003 12:33 PM

We definitely clap at NYU. I went to a small undergrad and had never seen such a reaction to the last day of class before...

Posted by: michael on December 9, 2003 08:55 PM

it's common practice at all american law schools. dont know how it started.

Posted by: Zach on November 30, 2004 11:47 AM