How to stay engaged in lecture 101

So you’re dropping thousand of dollars on a college education. (Or you have a scholarship, yay!) You want to make your time and money count.

In all honesty, theres nothing I hate more than seeing people scrolling through Facebook or online shopping. WHY WOULD YOU GO TO LECTURE IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WATCH THE LECTURE ITSELF???

A lot of students want to fool themselves into believing that sitting in the room while lecture is going on might somehow spill knowledge into their head. False. You are waisting your time and distracting those around you. Not to mention, you are disrespecting the person leading the lecture.

SO if you’re struggling to NOT be one of these people scrolling aimlessly while zoning out your professor, I have a few rules of thumb for staying truly engaged in class in college. Some might scoff at these, but you care about yourself and your education, and you should not care about anyone who dosent have the same priorities.

So lets get into it:

SIT IN THE FRONT ROW. I cannot stress this enough. Suck it up and take the front seat. Here are some of the many benefits:

1. You are not distracted by anyone in front of you

2. Teachers will easily recognize you

3. Easier to ask questions

4. Easier to see the board (if there is one)

5. You do not have to awkwardly step over anyone

6. More space to stretch your legs

7. Less of a chance you will spill your coffee and ruin the backpacks of everyone in front of you

Take paper notes (if possible) It is proven to be better for most people trying to retain information (citation)

Try to finish your water. Especially during really dry lectures (pun intended), I made a point to finish my water. It kept me alert and honestly it gave me another task to make me just engaged enough to stay awake.

(expert level) Put your phone on airplane mode. Many might not say it is possible but I believe that YOU CAN DO IT! Unless you’re dealing with an emergency (and in that case should you even be in lecture?) you don’t need your phone. Tell your friends you have lecture and they WILL respect that (and if they don’t or give you a hard time that’s a sign they’re terrible friends) You came all this way to get your education, make that short lecture count!

GUM. Change the flavors every pack. No shame with a lil chompin to keep you awake. Or mints! (I am addicted altoids)

**If you are having a SERIOUSLY hard time staying awake in the lecture because of the room (low lighting, too warm, etc) TELL THE TA or someone in the department** if you feel comfortable telling the professor, that will be an even quicker solution. Professors DON’T want students falling asleep and they might not notice how the room might not be ideal for engaged students… If your critiques go beyond the room and onto their style, try to articulate your frustration in a productive way in the course review at the end of the class..

Do the reading before every lecture. It will give you background knowledge It always helped me and I think you should give it an honest attempt for the first couple of weeks of class and then evaluate if it helped. Again, it always helped me, but I cant speak for everyone in every class..

Get out of your god damn PJ’s (excuse my language). Some people fall asleep no matter what they’re wearing. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, I think you need to wear something that’s not so comfortable that you are constantly drowsy. Be comfortable but watch yourself in the sweats and socks… I am a firm believer in dress well test well. This holds true for class as well.

Give yourself a buffer between sleeping and class. If you were asleep 30 min before lecture, chances of you still being drowsy are likely high. Try not to nap RIGHT before class.

Put something in your belly. Having fuel in your body helps you stay awake. Shocking right?! It’s also so hard to focus when you’re starving. Find a balance of snacks and liquid. My go to was coffee and almonds.

Coffee or tea**. When I say this, I mean a moderate amount, and something without lots of sugar that will make you crash. My thermos was constantly on me in college. It saved my life too many times to count! Having something warm to sip on can be very therapeutic.

Stick with it! For gods sake- DONT DO ANY ONLINE SHOPPING IN CLASS.

Your college education is too important (and expensive) to sleep through.

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