Ask Anna: Keeping up with Class

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Ask Anna: Keeping up with Class

Anna Lowenthal

 

Q: Dear Anna, I’m struggling with feeling like all of my class material is above my head. I can’t tell if the class is genuinely hard or if I’m just not on the same level as my peers. What do I do?

A: Feeling inadequate is probably a student’s strongest suit. I don’t think there’s anybody out there that doesn’t go into class and feel like a total idiot every once in a while.

College is meant to either blow your mind or have it spilling out of your ears – sometimes both at once. Just know that you’re not alone in the way that you feel, and that the way you feel is probably not grounded in any real issue with your intelligence or school performance.

First off, know your material. As silly as it sounds, many people go into their classes saying “I just don’t get it” when they haven’t even done the work for the class. When a professor assigns you a reading, it means that they want you to read it. You can’t show up to class unprepared and expect to understand what’s going on. Thoroughly read your assignments, consistently show up to your classes and keep a realistic and responsible study schedule, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t feel up to par in your class.

If you think your classmates have a better grasp of the material than you do, start a study group with them. Two minds are better than one, and a group of minds working together can accomplish a lot more and teach you a lot more than you might expect.

Sometimes the reason that the material feels “above your head” is simply because it isn’t being taught in a way that works for you. Working in a group setting not only allows you to ask more questions without feeling singled out in class, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn the material in a different, possibly more productive way than the professor taught it.

If you’re truly worried about it, have a chat with your professor to see how you’re doing in the class. A face-to-face interaction will not only show your concern about your progress in their course, but also offers your professors a more personal and intimate setting in which to talk to you and get a better understanding of you as a person and as a student.

Talk with them about your anxieties and ask what you can do to be more prepared for their classes. They’re usually more than happy to help you out— and they may even give you some extra brownie points for taking initiative and meeting with them.

So yeah, there’s a chance that you’re just plum dumb and the class is above your head. But more likely than not, you’ve got the brains for it. Just study a little harder, talk with your classmates and communicate with your professor. In no time, you’ll be walking into your class thinking “I totally get this.”