It’s a lot to worry about. Here are some tips to help.
- Sit toward the front, in the middle of the lecture theatre. Try to find a seat in the first three of four rows. This seat is the most likely to get you noticed, and you want the professor to know your face, and to notice your perfect attendance (since, of course, you’re aiming for perfect attendance). Additionally, these seats are most likely to keep you paying attention. The fear that your professor could look over at any time should be enough to keep you from nodding off.
- Watch your posture. Sit up straight and be ready to listen and learn. If you allow yourself to slump over, you’re more likely to fall asleep. Lectures are expensive naps, and, besides, you’ll just have to get caught up later. You’ll also be embarrassed if (and when) a professor catches you snoozing.
Turn off your cell phone. Professors are good at catching any glowing faces.
- Bring a notebook and pen. Avoid computers in math and science courses. They’re difficult to use, as science involves symbols that are difficult to type, and science professors draw diagrams that you need to have access to as you work and study later.
- Don’t sit beside close friends who might distract you. It’s very easy to get distracted. It’s even easier to let the conversation from outside the lecture theatre continue inside. It’s better to meet new people, so decide instead to meet after class.
- Exchange contact information with the students around you. You’re aiming for perfect attendance, but it’s not always possible. You’ll need to borrow notes from time to time. You might need help with homework and problem sets. It’s also just nice to meet like-minded people who you can study with, or vent to when the semester gets tough.
- Turn off your cell phone. Professors are good at catching any glowing faces. They know that you’re checking your phone as they try to do their jobs, and they don’t like it. Besides, there are so many distractions on cell phones that you might blink and find that the entire lecture has finished.
- Read the syllabus as soon as possible. This seems like an unimportant document, but it’s so useful. Take notes of all assignments and due dates, and use them to make a schedule. Take notes of all class topics, and use these to ask questions in office hours.
The next step is to cement great first steps into great habits, and to organize all the information that you’re getting in these lectures. Hacks on these will follow soon. Also, don’t forget that you need to look for ways to distinguish yourself from everyone else in the class. Check out Prep101.