"How do I University?" Part 4: Lectures

Good morning enrolled students living in your own flat with a grant.
We've been talking about administrative stuff for the last three posts, now isn't about time we start to talk about lectures a bit?
Me at every Food Marketing lecture

As you all know, lectures represents something like the ninety percent of your academic time. Some lectures could be boring, other could be interesting, I will go through what is important to keep in mind in order to follow your subjects at the top.

Mandatory and Elective courses

"I thought I can go on without elective courses, now I'm missing 12 credits to graduate!"
There are two kinds of courses to follow: Mandatory and Elective courses.

Mandatory courses
Those lectures are the ones in your degree plan you have to take, willing or not, they are essential for your formation.
Typical examples of mandatory courses are chemistry and at least mathematic bases for scientific courses or general psychology for psychology courses.

Elective Courses
Differently form the first category, these ones aren't always present in all the courses.
However, some degree plans do provide a list of elective courses the students can choose.
Please note that elective doesn't mean that you can decide not to take those courses at all.
All degree programmes have a total credit number to reach in order to graduate, for example, at my place it is equal to 180 ECTS for the bachelor, 12 of which needs to be achieved by taking elective courses, thus over a list, you will hav to choose two or three subjects (or more if you want to). depending on the credits, among the ones you find most interesting and complete your study program with all the due credits.

"Compulsory atendance is okay, but do they really need to make it an annual course?"

Compulsory Attendance
The first case I shall present you, is the one of compulsory attendance.
This expression means that you have to attend at least a certain percentage on the overall course time in order to sit the exam.
Your presence will be verified through signatures. Please be careful with these kind of courses because if you skip too much you will be forced to attend the same course the following year.

Non-compulsory attendance 
This diction means that you can sit the exam even if you didn't follow the lectures, nobody will check on you.
Does it mean I can freely skip lectures and couch all day long and then just go and sit the exam?
Well, somehow, yes, however I strongly do not recommend that unless you've got overlapping courses.
Remember you're paying fees to get instructed and that going to lectures can help a lot in your studies.
In this last year, I started working and I couldn't attend any lecture, studying for the exam was three times harder. Besides, meeting your course mates is an essential part of your study life, also mind that some Professors will ask you stuff at the exam that you wouldn't find either in their presentations or books.

Non-compulsory attendance with differentiated exams
This is a peculiar case.
Despite not attending those courses won't prevent you to sit the final exam, there will be differences on the material you have to refer to and maybe even the timing. 
Usually, this is a rule applied by some Professors, they make the students sign a paper to check the attendance. People gaining a certain percentage of attendance will be granted some "prvileges" like having the exam split in mid-term tests, or having to study just basing off their notes, the slides and a book.
On the other hand, people who didn't attend the lecture, won't be able to access attendance-exclusive mid-term trials and will have to use more than just one book to study.
My suggestion? Try to do as may mid-term tests as you can, leaving everything for the official exam session might result pretty stressful and unproductive!

Now that we settled down the different kind of courses, let's highlight what could be important for a successful and not too stressful academic year!
The first lecture
"Tall ones at the bottom, please!" 

The first lecture is almost essential. On the first time you sit in the class, the Professor will likely give you useful information:

  1. Wether the class has some practical activities and how they are planned;
  2. Exam modalities: written, interview, report, half and half; 
  3. Teaching material: where to find it, how to get it, which books are required; 
  4. Meeting dates and modalities. 

Don't let them fool you. The most serious-looking ones are usually the kindest. 
There are different kind of professors and it is essential to understand which species of them is in front of you in order to understand how to properly face them.
One of the reasons why it is important to follow lectures it's because hearing to Professors talking, will help you get an idea on which subjects he is more interested in, which ones he asks more in detail. During lectures you can get an idea on our your exam will be.

Notes are here, now try to understand what you've written.
Taking notes it's essential for three main reasons:
  1. It helps you keeping focused during the lecture;
  2. You will nail some conepts in your mind;
  3. It will prevent you from studying too long and reading boring books. 
A very useful thing is to periodically copy and organize them, in a notebook, in a digital document, it doesn't matter, you'll find yourself advantaged while preparing for the exam.
If you manage (and are authorized) to record the lecture, it's even better. 
If applicable, print a copy of the slides used by the Professor, if there's a table you don't understand and the professor explains it, be ready to take note on that. 

Practical activities
Don't attend a practice with a hangover, it could be dangerous. 
As mentioned before, about ninety percent of your university life would be made up with lectures. This deosn't mean you have to sit in class all day long! 
Wether you are a chemistry, psychology, engineering or fine arts student, some subjects in your degree course will probably have some practice hours. They won't always be mandatory, but even if they're not, follow my suggestion and do them. 
Since you are probably supposed to find a job in what you studied for, trying some techniques yourself will help you start taking confidence with some job instruments. 
Unlike the internship, you will probably take just bites of different techniques. If you follow them with a good attention, youll probably shine at your internship and, who knows, maybe later.... 

Course Mates

Your course mates are your comrades!
You and your course mates are all fighting a common fight, having a good relationship with them can make your life way easier. 
You can exchange notes, study together, share lectures registrations and, most important, you need someone to share your breaks with. 
After four damn hours of advanced chemistry and other three yet to come, there's nothing worse than eating a cold meal all on your own. 
Find someone, eat together, feel better. 
I am not kidding, developing relationships within your course mates will keep you motivated and help you improve yourself. Not to mention that if you're given group assingments, it is easier if you work with people you actually know. 

This was my post ofr lectures. I hope you found that interesting, thank you for reading and commenting. How do you move through lectures?

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