Starting a new semester is always exciting. All of the difficulties from last semester are swept away with the new course syllabi, and you never have to sit in the one class you hated ever again. But with new classes comes new classmates, and it can be difficult to figure out where you fit within the group.
The college I go to encourages us to take classes outside of our major so that we have a more well-rounded education. Taking classes out of your major can be intimidating because it’s not your area of expertise. Feeling like you’re less prepared than everyone else can make participating difficult which makes it hard to get the most out of the class. Here are some ways I’ve beat the participation jitters!
If you can, sit near someone you know. Being near someone you’re familiar with takes away the initial fear of being on your own. It also gives you your go-to homework buddy if you forget to write down the assignment. If you don’t know anyone in class, have no fear. Making class friends is easy because you already have one thing in common: the class you’re taking.
Sit close to the front of the room. I personally get nervous when I can see everyone raising their hands because I think that someone else has a better answer than me. Sitting in the front eliminates that obstacle because you can only see the board and your professor! Raising your hand might be easier when it seems like you’re the only person in the room.
Be confident in your answer. It can be easy to second guess yourself but you don’t have to be confident to seem confident. Naturally, you’re going to answer questions that you know the answer to, so go for it! Even if you’re not entirely correct, your classmates either won’t notice or they won’t care. In the past two years at school I’ve never heard of anyone laughing at the response someone has to a question, and, if an answer is wrong, the professors normally brush it off and ask for a different response.
Be comfortable with saying the wrong thing. At the end of the day, you’re in classes to learn about things that you don’t know enough about. And, surprise! Your classmates are there for the same exact reason. Growth rarely comes from always doing or saying the right thing and if you aren’t making mistakes there’s a chance you’re not getting enough out of the class.
There’s no such thing as a dumb question. We all learn and process information in different ways, so don’t be afraid to ask your professor for a different explanation! There’s a good chance that someone else in the room is confused and too afraid to ask. Again, you’re going to class to learn and asking questions will only speed up that process. The person next to you might even thank you.