Whether you enjoy your classes at university or not, they ARE important to attend. By classes I mean any type of live teaching or support: lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, labs or office hours.
In this post I’m going to teach you how to get the most out of your university classes so you can have a smoother, happier and more confident studying experience and, ultimately, achieve higher grades.
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Reasons to attend your university classes
- you’ll be taught new material that you’ll need for your essays or exams
- you’ll be taught practical skills needed for your exams and work practice
- you’ll receive guidance for your upcoming essays and exams
- you can check your understanding of key material by asking questions and engaging in discussion
- you’ll deepen and embed your knowledge of core concepts through case studies, exercises and discussion
- you’ll have the opportunity to receive extra guidance from your tutor.
Time is your most valuable resource
Contact hours vary A LOT between institutions and subjects. Distance learners may have no live teaching, online tutorials, or just a few face-to-face classes – so the reliance is on independent learning. The contact hours at traditional, campus universities can range from five hours or less to 30 hours or more per week.
Time is our most valuable resource because, unlike money, once we spend it we can’t get it back. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could maximise your time so you can get the most out of your university classes?
Your feelings towards your classes might change. Some you find interesting and useful, but others are boring, hard to follow, or you feel like you’d get more out of that time studying at home.
What if the way you prepared for classes, acted during them, and the things you did afterwards could help you squeeze more value out of the time you spend in class?
12 ways to get the most out of your university classes
1. Let your tutor know if you can’t make it
If you have a good reason to miss class (that’s not wanting a lie in or to continue a Netflix binge), let your tutor know. It’s a polite, respectful thing to do as an idea of attendee numbers will help them plan and prepare for the class. But, it’s also an opportunity to ask for any resource or guidance to help you catch up on the material.
2. Check the logistics
Make sure the dates, times and location of all your classes is recorded somehow, whether that’s in a digital calendar or a physical planner or diary. Then, one or two days before, double-check these logistics to make sure nothing’s changed. Also, find out what materials you need to bring to class such as equipment, textbooks or printed handouts.
3. Check your study plan or syllabus
Look ahead and see what due dates you have coming up for essays, exams, projects…etc. and check if the topics of any of these assessments relate to your class. For a related essay, look over the question or topic to get a feel for what’s expected of you. For a related exam, gauge your current understanding and recall of the material. Note down any questions that come up and bring them to class, and make sure you listen out during the class for any additional guidance.
4. Do the damn prep work
In this blog post I share in more detail why you should prepare for your classes. You might be asked to do some pre-reading or complete an activity before class. These may seem optional, or like a waste of time, but the prep work is going to help you get the most out of your university classes. Make note of any questions that come up for you, or any concepts or theories you don’t quite understand. During your class you can then listen out for any guidance or answers or speak to your tutor after for some advice.
5. Act like Hermione Granger
University can be a big investment in money – so make sure you’re getting bang for your buck during class. It may seem like the cool thing to do to sit at the back and not participate, but we’re not teenagers anymore so never be afraid to be the teacher’s pet. Turn up to class early, greet your tutor and sit at the front. Other students might be the grouchy ones at the back, but who cares? Act like Hermione Granger and you’ll get the most out of your university classes.
Again, you’re giving up your time to sit in class, so engage and participate if you want to get the most out of your university classes. Help yourself and your tutor out by joining in group discussions and offering an answer to their questions. Even if you get the answer wrong you’ll learn something. If you have questions in class, and questions are welcome, ask! There might be shyer students who have the same question but are too afraid to ask.
7. Stay focused
All contact hours are precious, and if you’re a student who doesn’t get that many, they’re even more valuable. When you’re in class, commit to putting your phone away and doing what you need to do to stay focused. There’s plenty of time for chit-chat with other students after class and if you find your mind wandering, bring it back to the lesson.
8. Don’t write EVERYTHING down
It’s going to be pretty much impossible to write down everything your tutor says which means you’re going to have to spend time after class on your notes if you want them to be good. Therefore, during class, focus on writing down the most important points and any additional details that aren’t included in the slides or handouts. Some tutors record the audio of their lesson so students can fill in the gaps of their notes after class. If your tutor doesn’t do this it may be worth asking if they could, or if you could record it yourself on your phone. However, be sure to NEVER record a class without permission.
9. Thank your tutor
It’s nice to be nice so make sure you thank your professor after class. If it’s an online class, send them a quick email. Extra points for you if you also tell your tutor what you found most interesting/helpful/useful in their class.
10. Ask any questions
During class you may get stuck understanding an idea, or you get confused thinking about the upcoming assignment or exam. If so, stay after class, email your tutor, or book an appointment to get some guidance.
11. Write/finish your notes
Take the notes you made during class and any handouts or slides from class to create a clear set of notes in your own words. Spend a bit of time here and you’ll have a resource you can use to help you with your future essay writing and exam preparation.
12. EXTRA BONUS NERDY POINTS – create revision material
If your module has an exam or exams at the end of it, then creating clear, valuable revision material is a necessity. You can leave this until closer to your exams but why not get ahead and create your revision material as you study? You could spend 30-40 minutes a week and create flashcards of the key concepts you’ve learned so you can start the process of understanding and recalling your material. Click here for a blog post with tips on creating great flashcards.
Use these tips today to help you get the most out of your university classes.
And don't forget to sign up to my resource library and grab alllll my best resources to help you save time each week, improve your study skills and achieve the grades you've always wanted.