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4.2 Are You Ready for Class?

Learning Objectives

  1. Prepare for listening in class and taking notes.
  2. Use a syllabus.

A professional athlete wouldn’t take the field without warming up first. An effective student won’t go to a class without preparing for it first. To get the most out of a class, you need to get yourself in the right frame of mind. This does not take a lot of time, but it greatly increases your ability to listen actively and take good notes.

Like a good athlete, first you need to get psyched. Clearly visualize your goals. Thinking about the following questions may help:

  • What do I want to get out of the class?
  • What is the main idea the class will cover?
  • How will today’s class help me do better in this course?

Go to class with confidence. The best way to achieve this is to start early and be sure you’ve completed any assignment the instructor gave you in the last class. Think about how today’s material will tie into what you’ve already learned. You should also review the course syllabusAn outline of the course from the instructor, which covers the course objectives, the material to be covered in each class, and often assignments. to see what the instructor expects to cover in the class and how it relates to what you have learned so far.

Be physically prepared, too:

  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating nutritious meals, including breakfast. It’s hard to focus on learning when you’re hungry.
  • Make sure you have all materials you’ll need for class (paper, pens, laptop, books, etc.).
  • Be punctual. Give yourself plenty of time to get into your seat and organize your space. If you are late, you’ll struggle to get into the right mind-set for listening, and you won’t feel in control of your learning as you try to catch up with the class. If you’re tardy, you also create a distraction for your classmates—and the instructor, who will take notice!
  • Clear away all other distractions before the instructor starts. Remember that putting your cell phone on “vibrate” may still distract you—so turn it off, all the way off.

Now, take a deep breath, focus on the instructor, and listen and learn!

Key Takeaways

  • To get the most out of a class, get yourself in the right frame of mind.
  • Clearly visualize your goals and approach the class with confidence.
  • Be physically prepared: rested, punctual, and not distracted.