Surviving in a Large Lecture 1

For better or worse, many of you will likely take large classes in college. In case you’re wondering what “large” means, it’s relative—that is, it’s defined in comparison to the size of the other classes at your school. At a big university you might have 50,000 total students on campus and large classes of several hundred or even close to a thousand students. Your class might have more than your entire high school graduating class, and this can be pretty daunting to think about. Do NOT let this overwhelm you! If you think that any big class should be avoided, stop assuming this, because it’s simply not true. Some of my best classes were large classes and some of my worst classes were small classes.

Keep in mind that whether a large class is successful greatly depends on the instructor—there are countless examples of students packing a lecture hall just to hear a certain professor teach. Most instructors who teach these classes are volunteers, because teaching this kind of class requires a lot of work. Instructors not only have to make sure that each lecture is highly organized, but also have to be prepared to deal with many more students than normal. They generally have to be more organized than other instructors, because the class would be unmanageable if they weren’t. Therefore, your instructor will know how to speak clearly, present demonstrations, show videos, and use other technology like social media.

Instructors who teach large classes often have a certain personality. It is hard to pin down that personality, but one way to think about it is that great instructors of large classes really show (verbally and non-verbally) how much they love being in front of a crowd. In addition, these great instructors always think of exciting things to do in class that will motivate you to keep attending. The key thing is that an experienced and motivated instructor will work hard to make a large class more like a small class. You’ll feel part of a community, rather than feeling like an isolated student. One last thing to keep in mind: if you get into a large class, and you can tell right away that the Instructor just doesn’t care about the class (let alone you), my advice is that you should drop it and add some other class.

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