Attending a lecture is a normal part of university life and can be much more than just sitting down and listening to a lecturer. Based on my own experience, here are my 5 top tips for making the most out of a lecture.
1. Get there early
I’ve always found that you learn so much more about your fellow students and about everything else university related if you get to a lecture early. Not only can you have the luxury of choosing your place to sit, and possibly who you can sit with, you can also discuss things with your fellow students. I’ve always found this invaluable as you can find out about other people’s lives, such as if they have a job and how they are juggling uni work with that, how they’re finding the course, and even how much they’ve written for assignments. Going to lectures and then going back home can become quite lonely if you’re not able to socialise with the people on your course, and so getting to lectures early allows some time to talk about how you’re finding it all as well. There may also be things you don’t understand about the lecture you’re about to have, and someone may have done some reading on it already so could help you out.
2. Don’t be late
In my very first year at university, I attended a lecture where once it had started, for every person who walked in after that, the lecturer stopped while the person found a seat and sat down. It was so cringey to watch. Now I’m not saying this happens in all lectures, but there is always the possibility. Not only that, depending on how many people are in the lecture hall, it may be difficult to find a seat and it’s just added pressure to ask people to move so you can get to the seat in a middle of a row while trying to be as undisruptive as possible for everyone else who will be listening to the lecturer. Also, depending on how late you are, you could miss important points and spend most of the time working out what you’re learning about.
3. Print lecture notes out in advance
I’m showing my age, but my very first lecture included an over-head projector and me realising how fast I could write. I remember having lectures in the mornings and then I would watch ‘Lost’ on DVD in the afternoons writing up my notes in my neat writing. I had the time to do that then. Over the years, that’s changed and some courses put the lecture notes online in advance. If they are available, I really recommend printing them out in the format where you can write notes by the side of them. It saves time having to copy out what you’ve reading on presentation slides, and it might be easier to read the slide in front of you on paper rather than on screen.
4. Take note of any extra information
As well as the core information from the lecture slides and additional notes on them, there is always the possibility that extra information is given, information that may be very valuable. A lecturer may like to talk about extra material such as a good book or a podcast where you can learn more about a subject. Sometimes information like this comes from questions from students in the lecture, or from a general discussion about certain points. These bits of information are ideal if you need some more references for an assignment, or want to find out more about an area. Sometimes these can be more specific to certain points, so may be a bit more niche depending on the subject area.
5. Enjoy them
I always love being in a lecture theatre because I feel part of something big. Yes, it’s just a lecture which thousands of students experience all the time, but not everyone has the opportunity to go to university and that’s something to always remember, I think. A university course holds the opportunity for greater things, even if you may not know what that is yet. Being alongside everyone else who is learning the same as you automatically gives you access to a group where you are learning something and have the opportunity to do something with that knowledge. Enjoy having the ability to learn.
Do you agree with my 5 top tips for making the most out of a lecture? Do you have any different ones? Let me know in the comments below.