How long is too long?

I’m sure most students have experienced three-hour lectures sometime throughout their career at Laurier, since they seem impossible to avoid. I personally cannot stand them. I find myself mentally checking out after the first hour. Maybe I just have bad luck since I seem to end up in lectures that start at 8:30 in the morning, or the dreaded 7-to-9:50 night classes. Regardless of what time the class starts or what the lecture is about, I think most people find it hard to stay focused on any subject for three hours. 

Now I can see the initial appeal of three-hour lectures. You only have to go to that class once a week, which hopefully gives you the opportunity to have a day off through the week. In the case of seminar classes, three-hour lectures actually pass pretty quickly since you’re engaged in a conversation with your peers about various topics. You also should get a break somewhere in the middle of the class which is supposed to give you a chance to relax, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes.  

However, in a traditional lecture setting where the professor talking is at the front of the room with a slideshow and students just listen and take notes, three-hour lectures can feel like an eternity. I clearly can’t be the only one who feels this way, since if you Google “three-hour lectures” almost every search result on the first page involves how-to guides on surviving and staying focused. 

In case you were wondering, the Queen’s University Her Campus webpage suggests that if you want to survive a three-hour lecture you should: bring snacks, bring coffee or tea, utilize your breaks, eat before class, try to make a friend, dress comfortably, be wary of laptops and bring your laptop charger.  

I can personally vouch for bringing some kind of food and dressing comfortably. Nothing is worse than being 45 minutes into a lecture and realizing you’re hungry or starting to feel uncomfortable. 

Like the Her Campus article mentioned, I think staying focused can be even harder when you use your laptop to take notes. The temptation to talk to friends or check Twitter almost always wins, especially when the lecture isn’t particularly interesting. If you truly want to pay attention and can avoid using a laptop, I would recommend doing it. 

I’m sure there are some people who have no issue getting through three-hour lectures, and some may even prefer them. If you fall into that category, good for you; I wish I had your attention span and dedication. I’m sure your preference has a lot to do with what type of learner you are. But for me personally, I would recommend avoiding them if you can. If you can’t, do yourself a favour and show up prepared. 

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