6 Steps to Making the Most of College Lectures

The myOptions Team

For most of your academic career, you have been used to the same set-up: smaller, discussion based classes. When you go to college, especially if you attend a larger university, you may find yourself in a lecture hall with 200+ students. This particular adjustment may throw you off a little, so here are some ways to prepare for your first college lectures!

1. Show up.

Simple enough, right? In high school, you have teachers taking attendance each day. In college, your education is what you make of it. Because lecture halls are so large, professors don’t take attendance. You could potentially go through the entire semester without having a one-on-one conversation with your professor. (Crazy, right?) However, if you really want to succeed in your lectures, you need to show up. (Do not assume that you can just get the notes from a friend). Also, sometimes professors will give pop quizzes that are as simple as “write today’s date on a sheet of paper with your name on it," solely to check attendance.

2. Sit in the front.

First off, you won’t have trouble hearing or seeing the board. Plus, you will be less tempted to goof off on your phone/computer with your professor right in front of you. You may even find it less intimidating to ask questions and participate when you don’t have to yell all the way from the back of the room.

3. Participate.

You will probably have a few professors that will engage your class with questions. And you will soon discover that it’s daunting to talk in such a large room with a lot of other people around. Do not be afraid to raise your hand and speak up! If you do it often enough, you will set yourself apart from your peers. And if you have small, simple questions, feel free to ask away! There are probably 50 other students wondering the same thing. But if you’re confused on a larger chunk of information, it may be better to save those clarifications for your professor’s office hours.

4. Take notes.

So, here’s the deal with note-taking. Everyone has a different style, and you should figure out what works for you as an individual. That being said, here are some suggestions! Whether you prefer writing your notes by hand or typing them on a computer, avoid mindlessly copying lecture slides. Instead, engage with the material, and summarize it in your own words. As you listen, write down questions you may have. If you aren’t sure if your notes have enough detail, no worries! Visit your professor during office hours and have them look over your notes. They will give you useful feedback and push you in the right direction to succeed.

5. Introduce yourself to other students.

Trust us, it will make your larger classes feel so much smaller. On the first day, make a point to introduce yourself to those sitting around you. Having a few familiar faces will make it much easier to form study groups later! Also, you never know who you may meet… a lifelong friend or future spouse could be among the crowd of your Bio 101 lecture.

6. Go to office hours.

Don’t just attend the professor’s office hours during the beginning of the semester, but attend as many of these weekly sessions as you can in order to build a personal relationship with the professor. (It could lead to recommendations for future educational, research, or professional opportunities). Office hours are also a fantastic opportunity to receive one-on-one advice, explanations, and feedback! Even if office hours are ran by a TA, it is still worth it to attend.

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