Surviving Graduate School: What to Do in Class

Just because you’re in graduate school doesn’t mean that you will be an expert in every graduate school class you take. Maybe you have been in the corporate world and have forgotten how to play the academic game. Maybe your success as an undergraduate was mostly due to your good test-taking or essay-writing abilities, and you managed to graduate despite your tendencies not to go to class or pay attention. However, graduate school is another level entirely, and you need to be your best during class to survive. Below are some tips about what you can do if you find yourself having issues in a graduate school class.

Choose your seat wisely.

Don’t doom yourself to failure by sitting at the back of class with all the other students constantly texting and coming in late. Do yourself a favor by sitting in front, ensuring the professor knows who you are and increasing your chances of paying attention. You should sit around people whom you know will not distract you, as you will need to pay a lot of attention in every graduate school class.

Master note taking.

Even if you won’t go over your notes later, you are giving yourself a task during class that involves listening to the professor. If you do intend to study your notes, make sure that you take the time to organize your work and to make it easy to find later.

Have a snack.

There’s nothing wrong with eating in a graduate school class. Just make sure that this doesn’t bother your professor and that you are quiet enough to be courteous to other students. Giving your brain and body a little boost during a boring lecture can do wonders for your retention and memory later. A hidden benefit is to your time management; you’re saving time by eating and learning!

Ask questions.

Asking questions yields several benefits. Firstly, asking questions forces you to listen to what your professor is saying. Also, you will be more likely to retain the information because you are actively engaging in the graduate school class lecture. Finally, your professor will believe that you genuinely care about his or her course (whether or not this is truly the case).

Make friends.

Having connections in graduate school class is invaluable to your education. For example, if you do have to miss a day of class, you can ask the other students whom you have gotten to know for any material that you missed. Knowing other students is yet another factor that will encourage you to show up to every class. Also, friends might turn into study buddies later down the road; knowing students in every class is also one of our networking tips.