It seems like when you need to pay attention the most is the times when your mind wants to wander. Suddenly, noises from the hallway demand your utmost attention. The stain on your classmate’s shirt makes you curious and you can’t stop looking at it. And you suddenly can’t stop thinking about what you should make for dinner that night. It’s hard to keep focused in class sometimes. But there are a few tricks you can play on your brain to keep your attention where it needs to be – in the classroom.
#1 Actively Participate in Class Lectures
No, this doesn’t necessarily mean talking. Sometimes if there is a discussion this is appropriate but for the majority of the lectures at college you’ll be expected to sit quietly and listen. So how can you be more active? Start by taking notes. Don’t try to write everything down. Just listen for the important parts. You’ll notice that your instructor might do things like pause, gesture, or be more active when he/she is speaking about something you really need to pay attention to. Instructors might use verbal cues, too, like raising their voice, slowing down, or using other forms of emphasis. These are the points you need to watch for and you can write them down in your notes for later reference.
#2 Arrive Early and Find a Seat at the Front of the Room
It’s much easier to daydream when you’re sitting in the back of the room, slouched in your seat. Your instructor likely won’t notice. You might even be able to catch a few zzz’s. But think of what you’re missing. Remember, you paid good money to be in this class to learn, not to nap. If you sit near the front, the instructor will be more likely to make eye contact with you and that will make the lecture seem more personal. And you’ll be much more likely to pay attention!
Note taking has been mentioned already but there are other ways to participate. Usually, after the lecture or during the lecture, the instructor will give students the chance to ask questions. Sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to answer them for other students. Take advantage of these times because they will help you clarify when you have questions and it will help reinforce what you have already learned. When you make a goal of participating during these times you’ll be more likely to pay attention during the rest of the lecture.
Some instructors even award bonus points for class participation. If this is the case in your classroom, you can give your grade a little boost simply because you paid attention!