How to Stay Awake and Alert During College Lectures

Waking up to an empty class and a pond of drool on your notebook is not the best way to impress your college professor. Get the most out of your college classes by staying awake, alert, and involved in even the most boring lectures.

Some college classes truly are snorers. The professor lectures in a monotone voice or with an incomprehensible accent. At other times the subject manner is interesting and the professor may be a captivating speaker, but you are so exhausted it's hard to keep your eyes open. Whether your class is 50 minutes long or 3 hours long, you need to stay awake.

There are two different types of college lectures. There are lecture classes where you need to be alert and pay attention in order to pass the course. On the other hand, in some classes, you merely need to be present as the professor only goes over material that is in the book or other course material. If the professor is not presenting anything during the lecture that you need to pay attention to, you will have to find another way to occupy your mind and stay awake during class.

In classes where you need to pay attention, it's best to keep yourself physically busy. People have different learning styles. Visual learners learn best by seeing, audio learners by hearing and kinesthetic learners by doing.

Take Copious Notes

One way for visual and kinesthetic learners to stay awake in college classes is to take notes. Take notes by hand or by laptop. Organizing what the professor is saying into notes can be very helpful for the visual learner, and staying busy with the hands keeps the kinesthetic learner from nodding off. An audio learner could record the class lectures so that if you do nod off, you'll at least have the lecture to listen to later.

Do Something Active

Try doing something active during the lecture. Some people learn best if they are doing two things at once. If you can doodle and still pay attention to the lecture, chances are you would benefit from keeping your body active during class. If it's a large lecture with hundreds of students, sit in the back and knit during class. This works particularly well if your professor doesn't have good eyesight. When you need to write something in your notes, just stop knitting and jot it down. You could also take up whittling wood, beading, or making lanyard necklaces out of embroidery floss or parachute cord.

Drink Coffee

Caffeine can be a college student's best friend. If your professor allows it, drink coffee during class. In graduate lectures that often only meet once a week for three hours, the professor may even have a coffee himself. Find out if your professor allows beverages other than water to be consumed during class.

Take Bathroom Breaks

Strategic bathroom breaks can help keep you stay awake bathroom, leave the class and walk around for a few minutes. Go fill your water bottle at the fountain or just do a quick round of the building before going back to class. This will get the blood flowing in your body and energize you. If you're really sleepy, do a few minutes of aerobic exercise like jumping jacks or running in place before going back to class.

In a class where you only need to be present, you can use all of the above suggestions. You can also do other things to keep your mind and body active and keep you from falling asleep during class.

Learn a Foreign Language

Are you learning a foreign language in one of your other classes? Have you always wanted to take up Swahili or Japanese? Use your boring class time to get a head start or expand your vocabulary. Write phrases and grammar points in a notebook and study them during class. You can also make flashcards and quiz yourself. This works particularly well in a large lecture class where you are sitting far away from the professor.

Write Letters to Family and Friends

If grandma has been clamoring for an old-school handwritten letter, now is the time to write it. It will look like you are taking notes, but you'll really be writing that long backlog of letters and thank you cards that you never got around to doing after Christmas.


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