Here at the University of Alabama, I’ve been really fortunate with my class experiences. I graduated with a class of 102 students, so coming to a large SEC school was definitely culture shock. My first class had 300 students in it, and I felt like a number. As I finished my gen-eds and started on courses for my major, the class sizes shrank significantly. From my sophomore year on, I didn’t have a class with more than thirty students. It felt more like a normal experience once I got through the large lectures of Biology and Philosophy 101, but it seems that a lot of students actually like being in super-sized seminars.
I can’t help but think why. Sure lectures can be great if you don’t really need to pay attention or you’re feeling the effects of a Thursday night out. You can sit in the back and play Angry Birds without worrying that you’ll get called on to participate. But for me, I didn’t learn anything in my lecture classes. I felt awkward speaking up because there were so many people and most of the time, the professors spoke for so long you couldn’t even get a word in. We had clickers to check in for attendance and take quizzes and to me, that’s just not learning.
The small classes I’ve been taking are much more rewarding, and I actually learn stuff. There’s nothing wrong with big lecture halls, but I don’t like feeling like a number. I like for professors to know who I am and know how I work as a student because it makes for a better learning environment. If your professor doesn’t even know your name, they won’t really be able to help you if you’re having trouble in class. Most of the time they’ll just direct you to the class webpage or Power Point slides. In my small classes, I feel comfortable and like they actually care about me as a student.
Now that I’m about to graduate, I’m very close with several of my professors since I’ve taken more than one course with them. They want to know how I’m doing and what kind of jobs I’m looking for. They want to pick my brain about projects, and I can go to them for help whether it’s school related or not. I couldn’t do that with a professor from one of those lecture classes I had back in my freshman year. Those seminars seem like a waste of time with me just sitting there watching the professor click through slides. The classes that have stuck out to me are the small ones where I truly enjoyed being present.
How do you feel about lecture halls? Do you like smaller classes better?
Caitlin is a senior at the University of Alabama who has an obsession with cupcakes, coffee, and Harry Potter. She always has random fun facts on reserve and aspires to be a professional blogger,social media bug, and/or James Franco’s assistant. Follow her fabulous life @caitlincorsetti. You’re welcome!