Some classes truly are snorers. The professor lectures in a monotone voice or with an incomprehensible accent. At other times the subject manner is interesting and the professor may be a captivating speaker, but you are so exhausted it’s hard to keep your eyes open.
There are two different types of lectures. There are some where you need to be alert and pay attention in order to pass the course. On the other hand, in some classes you merely need to be present as the professor only goes over material that is in the book or other course material. It’s easier to stay motivated and alert when you know that what the professor is saying is something you will need for future assessments. If the professor is not presenting anything during the lecture that you need to pay attention to, you will have to find another way to occupy your mind and stay awake during class.
In classes where you need to pay attention, it’s best to keep yourself physically busy. People have different learning styles. Visual learners learn best by seeing, audio learners by hearing and kinaesthetic learners by doing.
Take Copious Notes
One way for visual and kinaesthetic learners to stay awake in college classes is to take notes. Take notes by hand or by laptop. Organising what the professor is saying into notes can be very helpful for the visual learner, and staying busy with the hands keeps the kinaesthetic learner from nodding off. An audio learner could record the class lectures so that if you do nod off, you’ll at least have the lecture to listen to later.
Do Something Active
Try doing something active during the lecture. Some people learn best if they are doing two things at once. If you can doodle and still pay attention to the lecture, chances are you would benefit from keeping your body active during class. If it’s a large lecture with hundreds of students, sit in the back and knit during class. This works particularly well if your professor doesn’t have good eyesight. When you need to write something in your notes, just stop knitting or whatever you are doing and jot it down.
Caffeine can be a university student’s best friend. If your professor allows it, drink coffee during class. In graduate lectures that often only meet once a week for three hours, the professor may even have a coffee himself. Find out if your professor allows beverages other than water to be consumed during class.
Take Bathroom Breaks
Strategic bathroom breaks can help keep you stay awake during class. Even if you don’t have to go to the bathroom, leave the class and walk around for a few minutes. Go fill your water bottle at the fountain or just do a quick round of the building before going back to class. This will get the blood flowing in your body and energize you. If you’re really sleepy, do a few minutes of aerobic exercise like jumping jacks or running in place before going back to class.
In a class where you only need to be present, you can use all of the above suggestions. You can also do other things to keep your mind and body active and keep you from falling asleep during class.
Learn a Foreign Language
Are you learning a foreign language in one of your other classes? Have you always wanted to take up Swahili or Japanese? Use your boring class time to get a head start or expand your vocabulary. Write phrases and grammar points in a notebook and study them during class. You can also make flash cards and quiz yourself. This works particularly well in a large lecture class where you are sitting far away from the professor.
Write Letters to Family and Friends
If grandma has been clamoring for an old school handwritten letter, now is the time to write it. It will look like you are taking notes, but you’ll really be writing that long backlog of letters and thank you cards that you never got around to doing after Christmas. Don’t forget to look up every once a while and make eye contact with the professor.
Brainstorm and Make Lists
Another thing you can use the class time for is making lists. Get your grocery list done so you can run errands after class. Think about your budget; write down your financial goals for the year; list friends and family you want to get together with during the next month. Organize your planner and write down all the class assignments in your calendar. Brainstorming and making lists can keep your mind active and you’ll look like you’re furiously jotting down the professor’s pearls of wisdom.
Learn Morse Code
If you have a partner in crime in the class, take up Morse code so you can communicate with each other by tapping silently on your desks. This could come in handy during an emergency situation, and if you master it you can add the new skill to your resume.
The key to these strategies is to make it look like you’re paying attention to the lecture, even if you’re not. You’ve got to keep your mind active so that you won’t be bored, and keep your hands and body active will help you stay awake. Ideally, any college lecture would be essential for you to pay attention to, but in reality that’s not always the case. Stay involved by asking questions, taking notes and making frequent eye contact with the professor. Keep from nodding off and avoid those embarrassing drool stains in your notebook.