Lectures Aren’t For Everyone

UR Stuck On Campus | Al | November 17, 2015

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Sarah Elderkin

Sometimes the most counter-intuitive strategies work the best. I found this to be true when it came to getting good grades in particular lecture classes. You probably know the type of class that I’m referring to. Maybe they’re the ones you perpetually fall asleep in. Or you spend the entirety of class scrolling through Facebook. They’re usually relatively easy classes, too. They’ll have general information on a topic you may already know a bit about, so every time the professor explains something, you roll your eyes a bit and think, “well duh, that’s obvious”. And yet you get your first exam back with a big fat C on it. Then, you think to yourself, “how could I have done so poorly when every day in class it feels like the professor is just telling me what I already know?”

It turns out lectures aren’t for everyone.

Does your professor post the slides online? Is the content of the course something you can teach yourself? Do you learn better from studying than through lectures?

Yes?

Then try something weird. Stop going to class.

Here’s my reasoning:

If you stop going to class, you lose all of those “well duh” moments. You no longer have any affirmation in your mind of “I already know this stuff”. When you’re present in class and only paying attention half the time, you’ll tend to hear the things you already know and understand, but neglect any new information because maybe it’s less frequent, or maybe the professor spends less time on it because they have to catch up the rest of the class on the basics that you already get.

If you don’t go to class, you can move through the material at your own pace. You can skip over stuff you already know, but also it makes it more obvious what you don’t know. Go through the slides. Actually do the readings. Take the time you would have spent on Facebook during class and actually put in the effort to learn the material.

So I’m definitely not saying you can just stop going to class and you’ll suddenly get better grades. I’m saying that maybe if you don’t go to class, you will put a lot more focused time and effort into studying the material and actually learning it for your exam.

This may or may not work for you, so know yourself before you try it and make a judgment call. And certainly don’t come crying to me if this fails. I just feel compelled to share this, because for some people this could help you out a lot like it did for me. This certainly doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for me.