A Lesson In: Lectures

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

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Freshers week has been and gone, you're probably feeling a little worse for wear, and I bet all you want to do is sleep. Unfortunately you'll have to crawl out of your cosy bed and venture outside, as lectures have begun! It's the sad truth that realistically we go to University to learn, and that means attending lectures, however if you can get into some good habits early (i.e actually attending them) then lectures aren't so bad. And luckily for you, I'm here to help.

To Mac or not to Mac?
There tends to be about a fifty/fifty split in lectures between those who bring their laptops to lectures and those who stick to good old fashioned pen and paper, as well as a few anomalies who turn up with absolutely nothing (please don't be one of those people). There are a few things to consider here - will you be able to see lecture slides? A few of my coursemates with poor vision can't actually read the slides, and if your the same then bringing your laptop along to read slides may be a lifesaver. How quickly can you write? This is a tricky one as I personally think that being a slow writer forces you to condense your notes, which requires more mental processing of what you're reading and therefore prevents mindless copying. But for some people, a pen and paper just won't cut it and they need the speed of a laptop. And finally, is it worth the risk? Your laptop could break, be stolen, suffer cosmetic damage... For me, I just purchased a Macbook, and so the answer is a definitive no. But you may like to live life on the edge. Overall it's your choice, but I personally opt for notebooks and pens. I like having my notes in physical form, I can scribble away and highlight, and I do feel that writing over typing is better for your learning. But it's your choice (#rantover).

Set your alarm.
Please, for the love of god, set your alarm. Even if you think your one of those people who'll naturally wake up, just do it. Furthermore, wake up and turn it off! There's nothing more annoying than being woken up by someone else's alarm midway through a lay in. Walking late into a lecture is embarrassing enough, and you'd be surprised by the number of lecturers who will make a cheeky comment to further your humiliation, so avoid it at all costs.

Be respectful.
Basically, be quiet. Turn your phone's ringtone and vibrate off (for your own sake as well as others), try to keep the noise down if you do opt to bring a laptop, keyboard clunking is a major annoyance when trying to concentrate, and most importantly don't chat! If you want a good gossip with a friend, go to Costa, a lecture is for learning if that's not what you intend to do then don't let that impact on other people. My friends and I were unfortunate enough last year to somehow always end up sat near the same group of chatty girls (to whom we gave a not-so affectionate nickname) and it was really distracting. On multiple occasions I observed them being shot death looks from other students and, on occasion, the lecturer. So hush!

Preparation is key.
Taking the time to plan through what you may need is really important if you're to make effective use of your lecture time. Invest in a good notepad for each module, rather than writing on loose paper which you will eventually lose, and make sure you have pens that work! Highlighters are great for keeping your notes from looking boring, I have a different colour for each topic and highlight key words, subheadings, etc. Non-academic things such as tissues, water, and an umbrella are also really important. Who wants to sit in a lecture sopping wet, or with a runny nose? No one! Finally, having little extras such as snacks and a drink will not only stop your tummy from loudly rumbling for all to hear, but will save you money. On campus shops make so much because of hungry students who didn't think to bring a sandwich from home, and they're not cheap to buy! This year I've even purchased a travel mug (from here) to fill with tea or lattes in the morning to prevent any Costa urges. It's so useful to think ahead!

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