While I attended college, I often found that I would have a difficult time staying focused in class. Even if I it was my favorite topic or I had done all of the requisite homework and studying, halfway through, my eyes would droop and my mind would wander. If we were using a book in class, I might find that I had started reading ahead and had not heard a word my teacher had said for the last few hours.
Many of the things that are available in the classroom (especially if you bring your own computer) will keep you from getting bored, but will not help at all with learning. Checking Facebook obsessively and other time intensive options unrelated to the class are really just clever ways of not showing up for class.
And whether you are taking classes at a physical university or an online school, being able to focus while listening and participating for long periods of time may be difficult. Below are some common and some out of the box ways to keep your focus on the task at hand.
- Take Lots of Notes – Obvious, right? But there are many ways to take notes and trying out a few different types might help to find the right one for you. Bringing in a computer to class and creating a detailed outline of the material will keep you going at top speed. Using graph paper or colored pens to categorize and organize the materials could be very useful when looking for information later on.
- Draw In Class – Sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it. But excessive note taking does not always work, particularly when class participation is important. Drawing does not take attention away from your ability to listen and can often help to keep you in the moment rather than off into the clouds.
- Origami – For those who are not very artistically inclined, folding origami can be a great help, especially during long movie days or when the professor is prone to long monologues. The results are small and can easily be put aside. The action itself is not as distracting to those around you. The same principle can be applied to knitting or other crafts, although they usually require more tools and are significantly more obtrusive.
Perhaps the most important element of this equation is to communicate with your teacher, preferably before you bring in brightly colored paper. If you attend college online, this consideration may not be important, but it can be disconcerting for a teacher to see a student industriously folding paper. Once you explain the reason you may be drawing, folding or typing manically, most teachers are sympathetic and will call no more attention to your activity than individuals staring blankly at the walls.
Genevieve works for Westwood College, which offers many options for individuals looking to further their education including a business administration degree!
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