In defence of not going to lectures
It’s not because I’m lazy.
I’ve never been judged so hard as when I say I don’t go to lectures.
I’ve been to a grand total of zero lectures this term. In Fresher term, I didn’t attend the entire second half of the lectures. I can’t name half my lecturers and wouldn’t recognise them if I was stood behind them in a coffee line.
Contrary to popular opinion, not going to lectures doesn’t mean I don’t learn the content. I spend hours reading carefully the lecture handouts, textbooks and sources so that I know I’ve covered and understood it all. Because I haven’t sat in a lecture and been talked at for two hours, I have to work through content myself and come up with my own conclusions. Although it’s probably slower, I definitely think it’s more thorough.
That brings me to my second issue with lectures: they’re designed for the majority and so don’t really suit anyone. Lecturers go at a variety of different paces, but in general they tend to go over difficult material too quickly and easy material too slowly.
It’s so frustrating when I’ve gone to a lecture and know I’ll have to spend another hour slowly rereading my notes to myself before I understand. If I’m just going over it all myself, I can go at the speed I need and know I’m less likely to have to go back.
Lecture halls are also incredibly oppressive learning environments (tyranny of the majority amirite?). I have to deal with the judgmental stares of my fellow students every time I dare to cough or breathe too loudly. I’m not allowed to take a five-minute break to have a chat with a friend. Even worse, I have to endure awkward eye contact with that guy in my course who I’d only previously seen in Cindies. No thank you.
I also waste a lot less time by not going to lectures. First, because I don’t have to spend half an hour of dead time each day trekking there and back in the cold and damp. Second, because I very rarely used lecture time effectively.
In the lectures I attended last term I accomplished the following: chatted with a minimum of two people per lecture on Facebook, checked my emails, colour-coded my timetable, organised my calendar, booked travel plans, made club lists and gained three new Snapchat trophies. As amazing as those achievements are, none of them assist me when I’m sitting in a supervision unable to answer a simple question.
Because I was sitting in the lecture hall, ostensibly ‘listening’, I felt satisfied enough with myself to do anything and everything that wasn’t my degree. Now that I don’t go to lectures, the ever-present Cambridge guilt induces me to work really, really hard to make sure my supervisors don’t catch onto my lecture-avoiding habits. And if I’m going to be wasting time on Facebook anyway, there’s no need for me to leave my nice, warm room.
Finally, not going to lectures means I can allocate my time in the most effective manner for me, rather than having to conform to the Faculty’s determination of when I should be learning.
I do my work when I’m most likely to absorb it. I think we can all relate to the fact that attempts to work at 9 am after Wednesday Cindies are stupid.
By not going to lectures, I make the most of the times when I’m less tired, distracted and hungover. I’m also marginally less sleep-deprived when I don’t have to wake up at 8 am and definitely work better when I’ve had enough time for food. Not going to lectures also means I’m not that annoying person who can never make meetings and coffee catch-ups because they’re always busy.
Oh, and when you’re all at lectures, I’m making the most of the empty laundry room.
Everyone who makes judgmental grimaces when I say I don’t go to lectures, you’re the ones that are really missing out.