Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

The Grace Space: How To Participate in Class

    It may be a bit troubling and terrifying to believe, but the fact of the matter is: this is the beginning of the seventh week of Winter Quarter 2014. Finals are approaching, as is spring break, but first things first. Are you prepared?

    That doesn’t mean have you started studying for finals, or finishing up those obnoxious group projects. Instead, I mean, have you done the best you could do in class up to this point? In simpler terms: have you participated recently, if at all?

    I know, I know, I may not be the correct person to ask you this question, but I am asking for a lot of good reasons. For my freshman and sophomore years here at Seattle U, I had a lot of trouble talking in class—I hate public speaking, and it shows, regardless of my attempts to hide it. This truthfully screwed me over in terms of participation for a lot of my classes, causing me to still suffer with a not-too-great cumulative GPA at the moment.

    So, this past fall quarter, I decided, hell, why aren’t I speaking in classes? Specifically, all of my classes, rather than just in Philosophy or Spanish. And, I did, for the most part, speak in all of my classes as often as I could, helping me get those participation points and get my grades up.

    This quarter, I’ve been even more of a talking machine, as I continue to aim for a graduating honor of cum laude or magna cum laude. I enjoy sharing my ideas with my classes rather than just being a silent partner nowadays, but there are downsides as well.

    However, because I have been trying to rack up those participation points, I feel as though I am now one of the only—or even, the only—person talking in a few of my classes. Interestingly enough, being the only one to participate is really not that fun; it kind of feels like you’re just having a conversation with the professor with about 20 other people watching your discourse.

    I have even tried to get some of my classmates to talk in our classes, but to little or no avail. Hence, I have complied a few key points below for those of you who have had some problems with participation that you would like to fix. Don’t be too worried about not being able to change for the best grade possible; if I can do it, so can you!

    1. Come to class prepared
    Obviously, coming to class prepared for the lessons of the day is going to be an incredibly helpful tool. Make sure to do all of your reading, reflecting, etc., and bring questions to any parts you had trouble with.

    2. If you have a friend in the class, discuss the reading with them for key points beforehand
    If you feel odd about asking a certain question to your professor or in your class, talk with a friend or classmate beforehand to see what they think. This is also good if you didn’t have time to read in preparation for class (just don’t do this too often).

    3. Act as if you’re in office hours
    You know how when you go to office hours, you don’t just sit and listen to your professor, you actually speak? Act as if your class is office hours—it’ll be a lot easier to share your ideas when you pretend that you’re only speaking to one person rather than 20 to 30.

    4. Remember that you’re paying to be here
    Classes at Seattle U are typically around $4000 per quarter. Why would you pay that much money and just listen? Speak up and celebrate the fact that you are contributing to your learning, and the spending of that pretty penny.

    5. Look at your syllabus
    If you haven’t already checked, look at your syllabus for percentages. Participation typically ranges between 10 to 20 percent of your final grade; in one of my classes this quarter, participation is worth 40 percent. Just know that participating is the easiest way to amp up your final grade and, even if you only start now, it will still help in the final tally.

    6. Don’t worry about what your classmates will think
    Have you not been participating due to what your classmates may say? In all honesty, screw what other people think. You are a fascinating individual and most likely have a great deal of fantastic ideas—don’t be scared of sharing them in class.

    7. Repeat
    Remember, participating only once per quarter is not going to count. Try to make a goal of participating at least twice a week; it will help to amp up your percentage in this category, and will make you more than just a blank face for your professor.

    Even though there is only so much time left of this quarter, start participating tomorrow—good luck everyone!

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    Grace Stetson, Author

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