In huge, crowded lecture halls, how can I stand out to professors and not feel overwhelmed?

College Experience

Our counselors answered:

In huge, crowded lecture halls, how can I stand out to professors and not feel overwhelmed?

Wendy Andreen, PhD
College & Career Planning

Up Close and Personal

Large classes can be overwhelming or a place where some students feel like they can disappear in the crowd. Neither of these are options for making the most of your learning experience. 1. Be brave - begin by sitting in the front section (it doesn't have to be the first row). 2. Once you receive your professor's office hours, make it a point to go by or make an appointment for a brief introductory visit. Don't wait until there is a problem. 3. Ask questions in class and be prepared to answer questions. 4. Large classes usually have a TA for breakout or smaller sessions. Get to know your TA! He/she is a connection to the professor and could be your advocate, if necessary. 5. If the professor asks for volunteers for a project or to participate on a liaison board for the large class, step up and accept!

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Get to Know those Profs

Despite the popularity of smaller classes, large lecture halls are still a way of life at many college campuses, especially affecting freshmen. This is particularly true of very popular and required courses in a variety of academic disciplines. So how do you stand out? It's always good to meaningfully participate in class, but that still doesn't mean you'll be able to get to know your professor and classmates. But there are other ways. The most popular is to stop by at office hours. All professors have them: that's when students can ask questions, go over papers and projects, and check in before a test. Professors like to talk, and they are generally researching in their areas of expertise. So if you want to know more - or share what you know - stop in at the appointed hour. Another way to get to know the professor is while you are planning for the summer, particularly if you seek an internship. Most professors would be delighted to share their expertise and contacts with a solid student. In the days of online learning, their is another tool, of course, and that is e-mail. Why not try sending the professor a message? It shows you're anxious to learn. Don't worry. As your courses become more difficult, your class sizes will naturally grow smaller, a sure way to get to know both professors and classmates.

Helen Cella

In huge, crowded lecture halls, how can I stand out to professors and not feel overwhelmed?

Visit them during their office hours

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

In huge, crowded lecture halls, how can I stand out to professors and not feel overwhelmed?

One way is to wear bright clothes that will really stand out. You could also sit close and be sure to ask lots of pertinent questions. Meet w/the professors outside of class & develope relationships w/them so they'll know exactly who you are.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

In huge, crowded lecture halls, how can I stand out to professors and not feel overwhelmed?

Sit on the front row, be ahead of time and always meet for office hours to gain clarity; simply put do not hide in the crowd.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

using office hours

students should visit professors during the office hours regularly if it's possible with waiting too long. it may has nothing to do with homeworks but take advantages of seeking connections from professors.

Rachel Smith-Vaughan

Speak with your adviser and ask which sections of the courses are the smallest 

 Make sure to sign up for the professor’s office hours. Speak with the professor about the course, ask questions and relate relevant experiences. Always attend the break-out sessions with the ‘teaching assistants” as they will review the information in more detail. Learn to take concise notes; discuss the information with classmates; read ahead in your text book to gather prior knowledge of the subject before the professor’s lecture. Research the possibility of joining the university’s Honor Program. This will provide access to smaller classes and possibly the ability to register for classes early.

Stephanie Meade
Owner The Collegiate Edge

Three tips to make your large lecture classes feel smaller...

1) Know your professors: Attend every class, sit in front where the professor can see you, and go to professors’ office hours regularly. 2) Don’t miss a word: Lecture notes are often available through on line course resources or a student note-taking service, and can be a great supplement to your ownnotes. 3) Get your questions answered: Attend every small group meeting or review session offered, and form a study group with some classmates. You may have to be more proactive than you were in high school, but it can pay off in ways you cannot imagine!

John Frahlich
Counseling Department Chair Hudson High School

Embrace your fear of unknown aspects of college...

The fact that you are already thinking ahead gives me cause to believe that you will find ways to connect to your professor. Gain familiarity and allay fears by making arrangements with admissions to sit in on a college lecture. Many lecture classes offer recitations or smaller break out sessions, often led by a T.A. (Teaching Assistant). These sessions will help you better understand content while providing a more intimate and engaging forum. Maximize efforts in all aspects of the class and you are more likely to produce intelligent and insightful work- that will give you confidence and help you stand out!

Craig Meister
President Tactical College Consulting

Being assertive makes a large class much smaller ...

Make a point to introduce yourself to the professor during his or her weekly office hours - periods of time that professors set aside for students to ask questions and clarify course content. Don’t just attend the professor’s office hours during the beginning of the semester - attend as many of these weekly sessions as you can in order to build a personal relationship with the professor and better understand his or her expectations. Your commitment to your education may impress your professor so much that he or she might recommend you for future educational, research, or professional opportunities.