Every semester when registration week rolls around, students scramble to sign up for classes ASAP, trying their hardest to avoid getting stuck with early morning classes. Getting a college student to wake up early is like pulling teeth. For those of you who just couldn’t avoid that 8 a.m. lecture, here’s some tips to help you survive.
Take Care of Yourself
University of Maryland instructor Ashley Minner teaches “Introduction of American Studies” at 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and her expectations aren’t any different from any other professor. Her students are expected to arrive on time, ready to begin class with homework completed, which for the most part, they do, she said. “We made some class agreements at the beginning of the semester and one of them is ‘take care of yourself.’ This means that we’ve agreed it’s OK to eat something, drink something, stretch or take bio [bathroom] breaks as necessary. I also usually have candy for my students,” Minner said.
Remember that you’re not alone
Students frequently have trouble getting up and getting ready in time for morning classes. When I had an 8:30 a.m. last fall, I often woke up feeling cheated out of another hour or two of sleep; it gets really easy to silence an alarm and go back to sleep. But it’s not only students who struggle with the morning blues. “I set multiple alarms to make sure I don’t accidentally sleep in,” Minner said. She teaches all morning classes this semester, so she has to make sure she’s prepared each day. “I eat a good breakfast, and I leave to go to school with enough time to compensate for traffic or weather or other things that might slow me down. And I listen to music that I love on the way there,” she said.
Be Awake and Aware
Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding a way to keep yourself from drooling during the lecture. “I rise at 4:15 in order to drink many cups of coffee before traveling to campus,” UMD art history professor Steven Mansbach said. His biggest tip for students taking morning classes is just to be up and awake before class. “Few people skip, and surprisingly, few bring anything to drink, such as coffee, or eat,” Mansbach said. Overall, he noted no difference between morning classes and classes later in the day. Being awake and aware in class is certainly a feat, regardless of the meeting time.
If nothing else, just try your best to follow along with the class. “I’ve only taught morning class,” UMD American studies instructor Shoji Sanders said. “I expect people to be tired and less talkative.” Something I’ve done when I’m a bit sleepier than normal is write down some thoughts I have about the topic and voice them if there’s ever a break in conversation. Otherwise, I just sit back and listen, taking notes that I can refer back to once I have some coffee and a free half hour.
When it comes to the night before a morning class, Minner suggested that you plan to go to bed early or at the very least don’t stay up late and plan what you’re going to wear and what you’re going to eat for breakfast in advance. “That way, you can sleep a little bit longer and not have to rush as much to get ready in the morning,” she said. “I prepare for class by going over the readings and discussion questions a day or two in advance. I lay out my clothes and gather all of the materials I will need to teach the night before.” She said that students should follow her lead by taking notes on assigned texts. “You can review your notes at the beginning of class instead of struggling to remember highlights,” she said.