How To Survive Boring College Lectures

OMG, this class is so boring!  How are you going to get through it?

It’s true.  Some lectures could be more effective at putting you to sleep than Ambien.  Nevertheless, attending lectures remains a key ingredient for performing well in college.  Here are some pointers:

1. Even A students get bored at times by lectures.  What is the difference between the A student and the C student?  Their approach to the lecture.  Don’t let “boring” become an excuse for not showing up to class.  Dive right in, sit near the front, buy a coffee, and simply face the fact that you will be less than entertained for a couple of hours.  Get in the mental game and you will survive.

2. One of my friends from graduate school took impeccable notes, and before exams everyone lined up to study with him.  When I asked him his secret his response surprised me: “I’m bored in class, so I write everything down.” That is an A student approach to the problem!  Instead of avoiding lecture he planted himself close to the front of the room and made it a bit of a game to literally write down word for word what the professor said.  Give it a try.

3. Absolutely read the material before class.  If you are unfamiliar with the course material then it will only magnify the boredom.  Not reading would be like signing up for a book club, going to the gathering but never bothering to open the book.  Or, to put it another way, it would be akin to listening to an inside joke for two hours and paying money for the experience. How boring!  Be sure to prepare and stay in the loop.

4. When you are reading the material create possible questions to ask in class (if the professor takes questions).  Participating in class speeds up time for you.  And, you never know, your question could prompt others to speak up and the class could take an intriguing turn.  Dare I suggest, you might enjoy the class then?

5. Do not take out your phone to answer or read emails.  Again, this will make the boredom worse.  You are essentially running away from the problem by turning to the cell phone rather than confronting the issue head on.  This is a C student response.  Moreover, it is a bad habit.  After college you might find yourself in other boring situations like work meetings.  It is not a good (or beneficial) idea to tune out and gravitate to your phone while others are talking.  Indeed, there will be times when your good friends bore you!  Would you take out your phone while they talk?  Of course not.  For class time, strengthen your concentration abilities and keep the phone in your bag.

6. This last point is a bit painful but it must be made, namely, are you making an effort in the class?  Finding something interesting, like recognizing beauty, takes time and thought.  One isn’t always “struck” or in “awe.”  Often, interest is the result of devoting energy to appreciation of said subject (or object).  When you learn more you will discover more things to be interesting.  The boring lecture just might-maybe-possibly-I’m-sorry-to-point-it-out be indicative of your disposition rather than the professor’s.

Overall, keep the end goal in mind: to do well.  We’ve all been through a boring lecture.  You will survive!  Remember, it is your grade on the line, so don’t shy away from the class even if you need to muster all of your brain power to stay alert.  Good luck!

CLICK here for my book on how to succeed in college.

Click here for some more great tips on getting through lectures from College Success Now.


“The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has and the less he is at the mercy of fate.” Bertrand Russell

About unsolicitedtidbits

Philosophy, books, coffee, Mexican food enthusiast. View all posts by unsolicitedtidbits

12 responses to “How To Survive Boring College Lectures

  • awax1217

    Extremely good points. I use to count minutes and note how many points during the lecture the prof. would say an important point. I came up to the conclusion that a half hour to forty five minutes is all one could take. More is less. Finally even your notes become less fresh. You make more spelling errors at the end of the lecture than when you are bright at the beginning. I have been doing a lot of work on the truth of college and setting up for success at college. Have you read any of my material? Is it any good. Should I put it into a small pamphlet for the incoming college student? I would appreciate your comments. Thanks, Barry

  • broadsideblog

    Part of the problem is also the professor! I’ve taught college classes and it’s up to the teacher to engage students as best they can as well.

  • areyestorres

    Reblogged this on Galletas Jurídicas and commented:
    Buenos tips para las clases o conferencias aburridas:

  • Johnd668

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  • smilingricha

    i am going to need this tomorrow, tough day ahead! 😦 but awesome points!! thanks 🙂

  • Ethan

    I’ve gotta try these techniques. The History Class im in is so boring and I love history. What I think makes it boring is that he covers so much it’s just seems like he’s narrating the text book. For example, He went from stuff before civil war to stuff after the civil war all in one class (the class is an hour and forty minutes). The worst part of this is this comment… Im typing it in this class because it’s so boring (he allows electronics). I had to look up how to make the class fun to stop myself wasting time and browsing the internet looking at random stuff.

    One thing I tried today that actually kept me occupied and paying attention at the same time was a jigsaw puzzle app on my iPad. Sounds stupid but it seemed to have the effect as if I was doodling on a piece of paper.

    Im guessing with how I treat boredom is a C student attitude. I dont want to be a C student but the instructor makes it so easy for me to use my C methods to pass time.

    • unsolicitedtidbits

      Oh, I feel for you. Sometimes it’s difficult to connect to the professor’s lectures. I confess that I’ve delivered some boring lectures myself. If it helps, we can sense when things aren’t working and it’s frustrating. No one wants to be boring. Here’s a couple of ideas:

      1. If the professor takes questions then make it a point to raise your hand in class. It will pass the time and could energize the professor and fellow students.
      2. Keep your overall objective in mind. You want a healthy GPA. A boring class is for a brief time in the grand scheme of things. Don’t let this dictate how your GPA turns out.
      3. There will be other boring endeavors in your life. Look at this as a challenge, and how you deal with it will set the tone for future boring moments. You have control over your response to the situation.
      4. Get to know other students in the class. This will make the meeting time more pleasant.
      5. Coffee.

      Best of luck to you!

  • peakperspective

    Just came back from my daughter’s Parent’s Weekend at university. She invited me to attend two of her lectures. I was absolutely gobsmacked seeing so many kids totally tune out. Not just with their smart phones and computers, but actually deciding to take a nap for the hour.
    The girl in front of us actually brought a stuffed animal and went right to sleep.
    I really like your article, and I think I’ll send it on to my daughter. Maybe she can pass it around campus. 🙂

  • Jason Fiore

    Here’s what I do when I’ve realized that I’ve signed up for a class that is a snore:

    If you realize that you have signed up for a really bad course during the Drop/Add period…
    1. Is this course required for your major or minor or other form of required class?
    1a: Can I change sections / get another instructor? Sit in on the new
    section and if all’s well, get permission to change sections. (I did
    this, and I got a really interesting professor and aced the class. It
    wasn’t an easy A, but I really did learn the material and took that
    professor twice more. He actually invited me to take his graduate
    1b: Is this course a prerequisite for other courses you need to take?
    Then Suck It Up. You’re probably not the only student who is bored.
    What to do:
    Form or join a study group. Make sure everyone is serious about
    studying. Misery loves company. You will get through this trial
    with a little help from your friends.
    ITunes, YouTube, etc. are great resources. You might be able to
    find lectures given by a better prof online. The founder of the
    Teaching Company was a Harvard Law student who had a
    really sucky prof. He discovered that one of the top law
    profs had recorded his lectures for the class he was taking.
    The student watched those lectures, studied hard and aced
    the exam.
    2. If this is a course you are taking for distribution credit, see if you can find a more interesting class that is open. Sit in and if all’s well, drop/add

    If it’s too late…
    The best thing to do is suck it up. Follow the advise given here. We have all taken sucky classes. Form or join a study group. Look for resources on ITunes, YouTube, etc.

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