Sit wisely, my friends
As a law student fresher, lectures will be completely new to you.
It can be quite exciting going to lectures for the first time — partly because you don’t know what to expect. However, there are some important pointers that you should be aware of. Here are my top tips on law lecture etiquette.
Studies have shown that students who sit in the front and centre of the lecture hall tend to achieve higher average exam scores. Getting closer means you are more likely to be involved and engaged in class, and as a result, you will learn more. Advantages of sitting closer can include a better view of the whiteboard/projector screen, the ability to hear the lecturer more clearly and increased concentration.
Don’t get too comfortable!
It’s difficult to hear yourself think, let alone concentrate on the lecture when you hear someone chomping or rustling around in their rucksack. A notebook, a pencil case and a water bottle are all you really need for a one-hour lecture. Save the snacks for the cinema or when your lecture’s over. Be considerate to your fellow law students.
Avoid sitting on the edge
As tempting as it may be to sit on the end of the row for a quick exit — don’t do it! If you arrive early (and make sure you do) and there are plenty of seats available try to sit in the middle somewhere. You’ll only have to keep moving to let other students in who’ll probably give you major eye-rolling and heavy sighs too. If you need to leave lecture early for some reason, then, by all means, reserve the last seat, but avoid doing this until the masses have sat down.
Only bring your laptop if necessary
Avoid bringing your laptop to lectures if you can. You’ll end up tempted to browse through your social media and scan through last night’s club photos — which will distract you and the students behind you. If you do need to bring your laptop, at least avoid typing really loudly or accessing WhatsApp online.
Don’t reserve half the seats
Don’t be that person who saves a seat for your bestie. While it’s always fun to sit with friends, remember you’re there for learning, not a reunion. It’s quite annoying for the bleary-eyed student who just wants to sit down. You can meet up with your crew after the lecture. If that ends your friendship, then good riddance.
Put your phones away
You came to the lecture to learn, not swipe your way through Kim Kardashian’s Instagram feed. Keep your phone in your bag or at least on ‘do not disturb’ mode. If you fail to do so, the lecturer may stop the lecture to single you out. So save yourself the embarrassment by switching it off in advance. Plus you can always reply to those notifications during the lecture break!
Taking notes is an excellent way to maintain focus during a lecture. Your mind will be actively engaged if you focus on writing down what is being said. These notes don’t need to be 100% complete: just jot down points that are interesting to you and any questions that may come to mind. You can fill in any gaps during your reading later.
Avoid nodding off
You’d be surprised how many students drag themselves out of bed, go through their entire morning routine only to throw themselves into a deep slumber in the front row. I know lectures can be tedious, especially if it’s an early start or *heaven forbid* land law. However, this doesn’t mean that you can instead catch a few zzzs. Arrive at your lectures feeling fresh and ready to learn, or you might as well do yourself (and the professor) a favour and go back home.
Have some respect
It’s not respectful or fair to leave any rubbish in the lecture hall, especially since there might be a lecture straight after yours. Also (and this feels like it should be obvious) don’t chat to your neighbour during the lecture. The last thing you want is to be singled out; and no one likes a chatterbox. Lastly, don’t keep your headphones in. Even if you’re not listening to anything, it looks rude and can be off-putting for the lecturer.
Christianah is an aspiring barrister and legal journalist. She completed her law degree at City, University of London.
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