We all make the same start of semester resolution. However, the promise to ourselves that we will definitely attend every lecture begins to feel like a lie when we check our timetables and see the dreaded 9am two-hour lecture.
As a third-year student, I have never had the perfect attendance record. Every semester I made that exact promise and failed every single time. This semester was different and I am going to share my top five hints I have picked up along the way to motivate yourself to arrive and thrive in those early two-hour lectures.
1.Check the lecture slides the night before
This first point may feel unnecessary but trust me, it has been a massive life saver. Checking the lecture slides the night before gives you an idea of what will be said the next day and allows you to get into the right mindset going into the lecture. If the slides feel familiar, note taking becomes less rushed and you also have a perception of how far into the lecture you are. Knowing how much of the lecture there is to go can be a real motivator, especially when you’re over the half way mark.
2. Wake up earlier than you need to
This is the point that’s perhaps the trickiest but perhaps the most powerful. Waking up at 8am for a 9am lecture is not the best move. As someone that needs more than their fair share of sleep, I understand the temptation to press snooze as many times as you possibly can until you absolutely must wake up. This does not give your brain enough time to adjust to being awake before you’re expected to be making notes on content that may be new to you. Try waking up half an hour earlier than you usually do – you’ll be surprised at how much more alert you feel.
3. The lecture slides are your friends when it comes to note taking
For many, this is an obvious one, but it took me a long time to grasp and has made a massive difference. Printing off the lecture slides or bringing your laptop into university transforms how you make notes. Annotating lecture slides or editing them in PowerPoint as you make notes means that you needn’t write up everything that the lecturer is saying. Rather, you can expand on the content they already have so that they make sense for you. This not only saves your hands from strain but also means that you’re not going to miss any important information in your desperate attempts to keep up with what your lecturer is saying.
4. Bring a snack and a beverage
Bringing a snack and a drink into your lecture is something we should all be doing. Staying hydrated helps maintain focus and having a snack with you prevents hunger from becoming a distraction. Most university buildings have places to fill up your water bottle or grab a coffee. However, maybe don’t bring in loud snacks like crisps as you don’t want to be that person who is distracting everyone else around you.
5. Vote ‘break’
This is my final, and perhaps most controversial, hack that has helped me get through those long Monday morning lectures. If you’re lucky enough to have a lecturer that champions democracy rather than dictatorship, you get to vote as to if you get a break in the middle of the lecture or to power through to the end. I understand the temptation to power through and get out of that two-hour sentence as quickly as possible but this is NOT in your best interests. Voting to have a break is a vote to give your mind a rest. You can stretch your legs, refill your water bottle and get some fresh air in those precious ten minutes. Accepting that break allows your brain to decompress for long enough to feel re-energised but not long enough to check out of the learning mindset. These golden ten minutes will improve your note taking in the second half of the lecture and save you when it comes to revising for those dreaded exams.