Thirty kids. That’s what passed for a large class in high school. Now that everyone new to campus has had their first week of classes, they know how dumb calling a class of 30 kids “large” is, though ehy probably didn’t even expect it to be as large as it really was.
If this is your first year at UConn, then you probably had no idea what you were getting into. Let me guess how it went. Your schedule read: “Intro to Whatever” in Austin 108. From the outside, Austin looks like a fairly small building. You immediately believed that the small student to teacher ratio UConn advertises is true, but then you walked inside. Austin 108, the room with floor to ceiling seats. You could probably fit over 200-300 students in that room. And even more terrifying? There are larger lecture halls on campus.
At first glance, large lecture halls don’t seem that bad. First off, there are a couple hundred students in there at any one time, so the chance of you being called on are slim to none. And, with all that open room, you can get all your friends together in a small group in one corner. It can make up for that time your English teacher in high school didn’t trust you to sit next to your friends. And, of course, the most important reason: it’s more than likely a gen-ed. Classes in lecture halls are only there because it’s a class that many students need to take. If that many students have to take a class and so many students before you have passed it, it makes sense that it will be a pretty easy class.
All of the above would make perfect sense − if you are a naïve freshmen. See large classes are actually the devil, and don’t worry, your friendly neighborhood super senior is here to tell you why.
Let’s first address the size. Those lecture halls are freaking massive. Think about how large a room must be to fit hundreds of students. Getting from the entrance of the classroom to your seat could take forever. Not to mention how crammed everything is in the room. Many of them have small walking space, but really high ceilings. There’s a good chance you’ll be gingerly stepping up narrow aisles trying to find an open seat without tripping and falling all the way down.
And don’t even think about sitting near your friends. There are so many people in those classes, any attempt to bring your group together is pointless. If you do manage to sit together, you’ll barely have enough room to put your bag at your feet. Not to mention that professors love to call out groups that are being too loud in a lecture hall. In fact, they’re more likely to call on you to answer a question. If you thought 20 people staring at you when you tried to (unsuccessfully) answer a question in high school was scary, imagine what 300 people would be like. Literal nightmare material.
That’s why I prefer small classes. The one fact that I mentioned about large classes being easier is mostly true. But because the material is so general, it becomes boring. You lose all motivation to finish the material and to actually pay attention in class. But in smaller classes, you have to be locked in for the entire thing and chances are you’ll enjoy it more because you can engage with all of the material. You can directly ask the professor what’s going on and you can work with your peers to figure out a confusing topic.
College is all about experiencing new things and getting out of your comfort zone. While large classes make you part of the herd, small classes allow you to stand out. So, from one Husky to another, avoid the large lecture halls if you can. You’ll thank me.