University is hard work. Fact. There are countless books to read and assignments to write, not to mention the stresstival that is exam season. Although University allows students to become independent and responsible for their own learning, we do need a little help along the way. The main form of assistance we get is from lectures.
Although they are undoubtedly important, nay essential to a university education, this doesn’t stop them being a pain. Something about the concept of sitting for an hour being talked at is an unappetizing thought even for the most eager of learners. So what is it that makes them such a burden? And how can you get the most out of them without losing your mind?
Well, lectures aren’t the most engaging medium of learning. Trying to listen to something you’d really rather not be, whilst only having PowerPoint slides as a distraction is a sure-fire way to bore a person to sleep. The seats are uncomfortable, the theatres are dull and the hands on the clock never seem to move. Also, the people who timetable the lectures have no comprehension of how the student mind works. They want students out of bed before midday? To some students, rising before the afternoon is a form of cruel and unusual punishment, so 9 o’clock lectures are difficult to fill up, especially if there aren’t any other lectures straight afterwards.
Despite their undeniable importance, lectures always seem to be the one thing in a student’s life that can be removed. Although they should be the centrepieces of any student’s lifestyle, they’re always pushed to the sidelines, a burden on the good life.
What’s the worst thing that can happen in a lecture? The first thing that would come to mind is falling asleep. In practice, like most other humiliating occurrences, it’s only really embarrassing if you’re caught. I’ve seen many a student put on some sunglasses, pull on their hood and spend an hour lost in sleep without anybody really noticing. But not everybody is as sneaky as this. There is usually one student who face-plants the desk and lies there like a drunk by a toilet, drool and all. These are the students who’ll regret their lack of awareness when the lecturer deliberately picks on them.
Actually, being caught out for anything by a lecturer is embarrassing. Walking in late, chatting to a friend or even just using your phone are all unforgivable in the eyes of some people. There will be a point in every student’s academic life where they mutter something to the person next to them and when they turn back to the front, they are met with the stare of death from the lecturer. When this happens, you won’t be dragged to the front and flogged but you’ve been weighed, measured and found wanting and you will never be safe around that lecturer again.
Lectures can be fun though. Sometimes the lecturer cracks a bad joke or is interrupted by an unexpected incident, such as a student who attended the wrong lecture running out amidst a flurry of notes or a FedEx man delivering a crate of Red Bull. There are always some “you had to be there” moments that the less studious amongst us will never be there for.
However, these moments are few and far between; so in the meantime, we must find a way to endeavour through these hard times. Here are a couple of tips to get you through the hours of lectures.
Drink: By this, I mean water, not anything that can leave you with a hangover. Drinking water ensures that you’re properly hydrated, warming up your brain for the hour of learning that lies ahead.
Come prepared: If you turn up to lectures with nothing but your good intentions, you’re not going to get the most out of it and will inevitably have to go over it all again. Pens and paper are a must but extra brownie points will be awarded for coloured pens (for colour-coding and exciting doodles) and printouts of the lecture slides.
Accept any help you’re given: Lectures are often supplemented with materials to help our learning, such as audio transcriptions and having the lecture slides put up on the eLP. These aren’t an alternative to lectures, using these in conjunction with lectures will make things much easier in the long run.
Keep writing: If you feel focus wandering and your eyelids drooping, just knuckle down and scribble down anything you can. If your mind is busy repeating what the lecturer’s said or coming up with fun things to draw, this’ll stop it from shutting down.
Try to turn up!: I know that the thought of a lie-in is almost irresistible, especially if you only got home a few hours before your lecture starts but do your best to attend. You pick up a lot of information just by being there, so it’ll help in the long run. If this isn’t incentive enough, think of it another way: you’re paying for it, so you may as well make the most of it!
Edited by: Cameron Giles