Week two is done (not that any of us are counting!), and hopefully you’ve settled into a rhythm again. The first week of a semester is busy and yet very idle at the same time. You have to remember where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there, what you need to bring, and when am I going to brave the lines to buy my books at the bookstore? And yet, there is little course work to do.
The first class of a new course either fills you with excitement about the upcoming weeks, or fills you with dread. Maybe your prof is cracking awful jokes as they try to explain the evaluation method. Maybe the course material looks absolutely boring, and you’re already planning on skipping all the following classes. Or maybe you never wanted to take this course in the first place, but it’s required for your module.
Here are three tips to make the best out of the courses you’d rather sleep through:
- Get to know your prof
We’ve all had those profs. You know, the ones who can’t stop making what they think are funny puns, or those who just seem incredibly dry. Whatever bone you have to pick with them, remember this; who you see up on stage, is probably not who they are offstage.
When you give a presentation, do you act like your normal self? Probably not. You want to make a good impression, and get your points across.
This is the same with professors. They have a job to do, and are trying to do it to the best of their ability. Don’t let your entire view of them be just what you see in class. Get to know them. Go visit their office hours, even if you don’t have a specific question. Some professors have twitters and snapchats that are meant for students to get to know them.
You may find by getting to know your prof that they are a great person, and that maybe their bad puns are just a way of trying to engage the class. You may make a new friend, and mentor, in the process.
- Appreciate some part of their teaching style
There is little worse than going to a class where a professor simply reads off their text-only slides. If you wanted to read it word for word, you could do that yourself, on your own time, in your comfy bed, right?
Don’t quit going to that class just yet. Try to find one thing about the prof’s teaching style that you can appreciate. Sure, maybe they read word for word off the slide. But maybe they take the time to thoroughly answer any and all questions you have. Even if it’s just that they start and end on time everyday, find something you can appreciate.
If you’re really struggling to find something you like about their style, think upon others. Sure, so you hate the way participation is mandatory. It does nothing for you except make you annoyed. Try thinking about all the other people in the class. For them, being forced to participate may force them to pay attention, and causes them to do better in the course. You can appreciate without directly benefiting.
- Relate the course material back to your life
Required courses can be a drag. Many people think of them as just another hoop they have to jump through.
Try making connections between the material and your life. Thermodynamics may seem very uninteresting to you, but think about it in terms of your morning coffee (or three). You may not like the topics anymore than you did previously, but at least you might be semi-interested.
I find this easy enough to do in certain courses- chemistry, biology, psychology, philosophy… the list goes on and on.
But how do you make connections in courses like English? The connections you make don’t have to be clear cut or direct. Maybe you just need to imagine you and your friends as the characters in a book. Look for the small things, maybe little relations that only make sense to you. Connect course material to media, like your favourite television show, or a lyric in your new favourite song.
If all else fails, think about how you may need to know this course material later in life, or how it could be potentially useful in general. Right, so you never plan to build your own monster, so studying Frankenstein may seem pointless to you. You never know, though, what you may need to know to win Jeopardy.
And let’s be real here; all of us want to win Jeopardy.