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How to prepare for your first university lecture

Date:23 July 2019
Danique and me trying to find the right lecture hall (didn't manage)
Danique and me trying to find the right lecture hall (didn't manage)

One thing that fills a lot of new students with a mix of anxiousness and excitement is the first lecture at university. One thing is for sure: university lectures are quite different from the ones you may be used to from your high school. The material discussed is more complex and there are often way more people present. Many students, therefore, ask themselves whether and how they should prepare for their first steps in the academic world. Although my first university lecture is already quite a while in the past, I still remember the excitement quite well. In this blog, I will try to give you some personal tips on how to prepare for your first lecture, so that nothing can go wrong on your first day as a university student. 

1. Be on time 

The most important thing if you ask me? Be on time. This is by far the easiest thing to keep in mind when heading off to your first lecture. Lectures usually start very punctually and you really don’t want to walk into the room 10 minutes late with hundreds of heads turning around to see who is interrupting. It is also not a great way to make a first impression on your lecturer or professor. So make sure to check out the location of the lecture hall before your first class, so that you don’t have to run around panicking on your first day. 

2. Read the course description

A good way to prepare yourself for what is coming up is by reading the course descriptions of the classes you are taking in your first block. You can find one for every course offered at the UG by going to Ocasys. Course descriptions not only include the contents of the course, but also the names and contact details of your lecturers. However, in my opinion, the most important part of every course description is the learning outcome. Even today as a Master’s student, I still check the learning outcomes in the course descriptions before every exam to prepare myself properly. 

3. Buy the reading material 

If you haven’t noticed so far, you’ll certainly notice once you get here: University education is all about reading, reading and even more reading. You can find all the relevant reading materials in the course description of your course. Make sure to buy those books and readers (or at least copies of the reading) as it will in most cases be relevant for your exams. In case you do not want to spend too much money on books, you can check out Facebook groups where students sell their used books at a much lower price. It might also be worthwhile to join a study association, as they often give discounts on books!  

4. Ask questions & take notes

This is a crucial one. If you don’t understand something, don’t feel ashamed to ask. Besides teaching and explaining, answering your questions is one of the core things your lecturer is there for. If you are not sure about something, especially if it concerns a deadline or formal requirement, make sure to send your lecturer a polite email asking for help. A big mistake students often make in class is to not speak up when the lecturer asks whether something has been left unclear. However, if no one says anything although some questions were left unanswered, the lecturer will just move on assuming that everyone has understood the material. In addition to this make sure to take notes during class. This will come in really helpful when preparing for an exam, especially if the lecturer discusses things that are not contained in the slides or in the reading. In some courses, lecturers also provide specific Q & A sessions before the exams to answer students questions. So if anything is still left unclear by then, make sure to attend one of these to have your questions answered. 

5. Don’t panic 

No matter how nervous or excited you are for your first lecture at uni: Do not panic. Don’t worry about not knowing all the answers to your professor's questions, because after all, you are here to learn and not know everything already. There will be plenty of people and resources available to teach you how to organise yourself and study efficiently. You are certainly not the first first-year student to ever arrive in Groningen and you also won’t be the last. So kick back, relax and enjoy your first steps as a freshly baked university student ;) 

Do you have interesting stories from your first lecture at university? Let us know in the comments below. 

About the author

Hey there! My name is Asmo and I’m a Finnish/German student exploring life in the Netherlands. Besides being into photography and politics, I am currently doing my Master's degree in European Law. Oh, and I write blogs as well.


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