If you’ve just started college, you may find the idea of attending a lecture along with a hundred or so other students to be rather daunting. Asking questions when you don’t understand can be difficult and you may be tempted to just not try very hard in the end. However, if you follow a few basic tips, you should be able to learn quickly how to get the most out of a large college lecture class.
Prepare in advance
Most lecturers will give you a list of reading material at the beginning of the college year. Before you attend each lecture, read about the subject in question. This will make what your lecturer says much clearer and because you are hearing the information presented in a slightly different way, you are more likely to remember it. If, on the other hand, you go along to the lecture expecting the lecturer to give you all the information that you need in order to pass the exam, you may well find yourself struggling. College is a time to learn how to study on your own; not to be spoon-fed information.
Position yourself carefully
You may be tempted to sit at the back of the lecture theatre so that you can be out of the lecturer’s direct view and so that you can make a quick exit if necessary. However, you will get a lot more out of the lecture if you sit near the front. Then you will hear and see everything clearly and will be more willing to ask questions than if you are hidden away at the back. Choose the people with whom you sit very carefully too. If your friends tend to chat through the lecture, sit separately, or at the very least ask them to keep quiet while the lecturer is speaking.
Hone your note-taking skills
Taking good notes is vital if you want to ensure that you record all the necessary information given. You may think that there is nothing to note-taking – all you need to do is write down what the lecturer says, after all. However, you will find that your lecturer won’t stop to allow you to catch up with your notes, so you will need to work out a way to summarise the information you are given and to decide what is most important. You will find your own way of doing this with practice – you can use acronyms for certain words, for example. Just ensure that your writing is as clear as possible. Don’t rely on the notes that the lecturer gives you either if available – you still need to make your own notes.
Record the lecture
To back up your notes, you may want to consider recording the lecture. You will probably need to ensure that the recording device you choose is as near to the lecturer as possible for the sake of clarity, so check that your lecturer is happy for you to do that. You can then play the recording back in your own time and embellish your notes as necessary. It could also be useful when it comes to exam revision, especially if you are an aural learner – you can play the lecture back as you are travelling. Your lecturer may have podcasts of the lectures online, so you may not even have to record the lectures yourself.
Interact if applicable
If you really want to make the most of your lecture, you will need to interact. This has the added advantage of showing the lecturer that you are interested in what he is saying and will strengthen your relationship. However, some lecturers do not like to be interrupted while speaking. Work out how best to interact. It may be when asked to do so, or your lecturer may be happy for you to ask questions at the end of the lecture. Sitting near the front of the class will ensure that you are heard well and can hear the response.
Make a note of questions to ask afterwards
If you don’t get the opportunity to ask the questions you have, or perhaps you don’t have time to go into as much depth as you would like, then note them down and approach your lecturer afterwards. He may well be rushing out of the theatre, but you can arrange a time to meet with him later in the week and go through everything that you don’t understand. Don’t leave it until just before the exams when you are stressed and everyone else is queuing up for personal appointments with your lecturer.
Making the most of large lecture classes in college is easy, once you know how. You just need to appreciate that your method of digesting information will need to change and then follow through by making the necessary changes.