How to Pay Attention in Class

I’m slowly finding myself more and more sleepy when I go to my classes, and the reason isn’t because the lecturer is boring (well, in some cases that is definitely the answer). As baffled as you may be, I get the typical 7-8 hours of sleep each night that most college students do not, and I eat something for breakfast each morning. So why is it that I’m still so tired? Clearly I’m getting the right sleep and energy for each morning, right?

Well, all of our needs are different, but I’ve come to the conclusion it may be where I’m positioned in the classroom, and how my posture is. You’ll always hear that the “anal premeds” (from Joel Brown’s vernacular) sit in the front, and the normal ones sit in the middle, and the ones who are always on Facebook are in the back. Well, that’s true, and I’m thinking of where I am in each of my classes.

CHEM 234 – I’m definitely never in the front or even close to it. It’s not that I choose not to, it’s because that spot is ALWAYS filled when I get there! I mean, jeez! I admit it might be my fault that I come into class when there’s five minutes until class starts, but that’s because I come from west side and waiting for buses takes forever sometimes. I tend to sit near the middle to the back, but I don’t like it because a lot of people talk and it’s hard to concentrate. How’s my performance in this class? Poor.

BIOS 350 – Again, the front row is taken, and the ones near the front row are taken. The first day of class it was super packed so my friend and I didn’t bother trying to find a seat in the front and sat in the back area. I guess we just kind of stuck with it, and man do I get sidetracked. I tend to listen better when I force myself to sit straight. I think if you’re too comfortable in your chair, you will no doubt fall asleep in your lectures. How’s my performance in this class? Not bad.

BIOS 351 – Labs are nice. You always have to be on your feet!

HN 307 – I sit in the front, finally. I feel like a lot of the students in that class are scared of the professor picking on them to answer questions (it’s a class of around 30 students) and surprisingly he doesn’t pick on anyone in the front unless you actually try to talk. The first exam only had four people who got A’s, including me, and I think that was attributed to sitting in the front since the others who received A’s were basically in the front of the class. My performance in the class? I’m doing all right.

HN 296 – I’m so intimidated in this class. Almost everyone knows about everything we talk in this class because they’re athletic and are work-out monsters! Even though I know studying for all of my classes is a good idea, just thinking about all of my fat cells growing while I’m sedentary makes me sad. Exercise probably helps a lot with focus in classes, so if you’re not doing that, you’re probably like me just trying to make ends meet. My performance in this class is decent.

I love my snowman earmuffs!

Going to work is really refreshing. I feel like classes are so intense because there's so much information and you can't concentrate. When I'm at work I can really get things done, and take my time. I just felt like showing everyone my snowmen earmuffs, and what the room I work in at UIC Campus Housing looks like. Weeee!

So from my analysis, I’d say if you follow these tips, you’ll be better at paying attention in class, taking notes, and need to study less because your listening will be improved.

  1. Eat breakfast
  2. Exercise in the morning
  3. Get enough sleep the night before
  4. Keep your back straight when you are sitting instead of slouching
  5. Write down almost every word your professor says unless it is clearly irrelevant (it might seem stupid, but if you’re busy doing something you won’t get sleepy)
  6. Sit in the front of the class, or kick someone out of their seat (just kidding)
  7. Ask questions, but don’t be annoying because professors will just roll their eyes at you
  8. Keep your phone in your backpack and don’t touch it until after class
  9. Get a watch so you can’t use the excuse you need to check the time on your phone
  10. Never bring a laptop, just pen and paper!

I think that’s basically it. The first few tips are obvious, but we’re all busy people and forget the most important things sometimes. There’s a lot more going on with me, but I’m so exhausted from midterms! I hope everyone did well on their exams.

Keep it up UIC! =)

Picutre of author

About Milie Fang, Biological Sciences / Pre-medicine

I am a senior and an acclaimed workaholic. While I like to keep busy academically, I really enjoy the simple pleasures of hanging out with friends and family, playing video games, or listening to music. When life seems to go well, allergies and eczema like to butt in and make me miserable. I hope to go into medicine so that I can have a better understanding of skin and the immune system to help myself, and to also help others facing the same problems I have faced since I was three.

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