Sturggles/Lessons Learned From Large College Classes

You’ve probably already experienced it (if you haven’t you will). That one class that has over a hundred students (to say the least) and the professor is like “You all should feel free to stop me during the lecture and ask questions. Remember, it’s a no-judging zone.” 

Oh yeah? Tell me more.

My bio class is a nice, tasty soup of all the possible socially awkward situations any student can face (especially if you’re a freshman) It’s a little over 350 students in one lecture hall. Exciting, right?

The Struggles


  • Wondering whether to ask a question and if it’s a smart or dumb one. Or wondering some more if your question will get you a response from the prof like “I’m sure if you look in the syllabus, you’ll find what you’re looking for.” Burrrrnnnnn! Ground, swallow me now please!
  • We have this educational game called ‘Think, Pair, Share’ where people have to “pair up” and brainstorm through a question for 5 minutes. Now this is super nice when you’re actually sitting next to people you know but when you’re not… At the beginning of the semester, I had no one sitting on either side of me so I asked to join these two girls in front of me. They didn’t look so excited and yes, things got really awkward, really fast… 
  • The ‘Walk Of Shame’ when you’re late and you have to walk down the steps to find a seat, then cause a little disruption because all the aisle seats are taken and the seat you want is in the middle. It’s so obvious cause you’re the only person beside the prof walking around in a room full of seated people. How exactly were you going to crawl in again?
  • For our ‘group quizzes’, we are put into groups of five and no you don’t get to choose who or know who the other four people are. In a class of 350 plus people, that pretty intense. And I don’t think I need to explain how things could get you know… I dreaded it in the beginning but things started looking up.
  • Trying to listen and take notes at same time because the prof is talking at the speed of light and sadly every word coming out of his mouth is important.
  • Your professor might see you campus and not even recognize you. Coming from a small high school, that touched me pretty deeply.
Yes my dear, no one is above this experience except you were lucky enough to have had small classes throughout your undergraduate career (which I think is impossible no matter how small the school as long as there are general courses like intro to psychology and what not). For me, that would suck because I think this is a really cool experience. It might not seem cool now but it makes good stories later on. Aww yeah!
The Lessons/Tips (listed in order with The Struggles)


  • Ask the question anyways because though you might think it’s dumb, about five other kids might breath a sigh of relief that you magically read their minds and voiced their thoughts. Yeah that’s right, take one for the team! I used to be one of the “sighers of relief” when the semester first started and that’s perfectly normal. Now, I really don’t care. I just ask as it comes. One thing I started doing was sitting amongst the people who ALWAYS ask the questions (usually at the front of the class). Their inquisitiveness rubs off on you and it’s awesome. If I’m still too shy to ask the question, I ask one of my friends or wait till after lectures to talk to the professors.
  • For group games, try sitting next to people you already talk to outside class. It takes off some of the pressure. If you don’t often sit next to people you know for one reason or the other (your late or your friends don’t take the same class), all I can say is ‘trial-by-error’. If you ask someone and it ends not so well, ask someone different the next time. As long as it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. Who knows? You might make a new friend/think-pair-share partner and when you do, make sure you sit next to them. 

  • The obvious advice is to come class early but I know that doesn’t always happen. The thing with me is I’m usually about ten minutes late (don’t ask why) and I hate sitting at the back so I always have to go up front therefore you can say I’m kind of used to the “walk of shame”. You need to understand first that the profs don’t care and he probably didn’t notice you. No one keeps tabs in classes that big and you’re better off than those who didn’t come to lecture at all. Once you’ve got that ingrained in you brain, the next step is looking unphased by the fact you’re late even if you are. Walk smartly but calmly while scanning for a seat and it helps not making eye contact with professor. Now I’m not saying you should stroll in five minutes before the lecture ends or you should make it a habit coming late but for those days. Oh and try to look good so you can make their stares worthwhile.
  • Suck it up and do it for the grade. You don’t have to relate with them after class.
  • I’ve started this thing where I record the lecture on my phone/recorder and if I miss something, I can always re-listen to the parts I missed out on. Or you can copy off your friend’s notes.

  • You have to consciously make an effort to get to know your professor if it’s something that’s important to you. I think it’s important and though it’s not always easy in big classes, it’s almost, always worth it. Even if it’s as little as little as asking questions after class, distinguish yourself from the lot.
 Large lecture classes really do have their perks and struggles. You just have to learn to be a master in whatever situation you find yourself. Though you might have not-so-good experiences, they make good laughs later on.
What are some of the struggles you’ve faces in large classes (or classes in general) and how did you handle it? Tell me in the comment box below!


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