How to Participate in Class Like a Pro


Many shy students face this dilemma every semester–the dreaded participation grade.  While everyone else in class seems to be raising their hands and having in-depth discussions with the professor, shy students can find this daily experience to be nerve wracking. If this sounds like you, here are a couple of tips to help you participate in class like a pro.

Sit in the Front of the Class

This can be a shy student’s nightmare. It may feel safer to hide in the back of the class, but sitting in the front can help drive you to participate. First off, it forces you to speak at some point: you cannot avoid your professor when you are sitting right in front. Being up front also shows the professor that you’re engaged and keeps you more alert in class. Who knows, you may come up with some deep thoughts to share with the class because you have no choice but to pay attention when you’re in the front.  

Volunteer to Read a Passage

“Can I get a reader?” When you hear that question, your hand should go straight up! This is an opportunity for you to participate in class without having to think about the material or how nervous you may be. Reading aloud to the class can give you a change of heart about class participation and help you realize that speaking in class is not that terrifying. This could eventually open you up to participating beyond reading passages to the class.  

Prepare Notes Before Class

Sometimes you may not have anything to say in class because you don’t remember anything noteworthy about the reading or perhaps you did not even finish the reading. The best thing to do is to come to class prepared. Go to class not only with your assignments completed, but do some prep work in advance and take notes and come up with at least one talking point. If you come prepared with written notes you’ll be less nervous to share your thoughts.

Answer Opinion Questions

Everyone, including you, has an opinion about something. Opinion questions are relatively simple and more fun to answer. You may be asked to support your opinion, but it gives you the opportunity to get comfortable with talking to the class. Answering opinion questions can get you to become familiar with your peers and professor which can make participating easier overall.    

Become Familiar With the Professor and Your Classmates    

When you are talking to your friends and family, do you get nervous? No, because you are comfortable with them. So mirror these emotions with your peers by taking steps to become familiar with your class. Get to know a classmate or two: becoming familiar with your peers and making friends along the way can show you that you do not have to be afraid of speaking in front of your classmates. You should also considering making an appointment with your professor to discuss class expectations. This will not only show the professor that you care about the class, but will help you figure out how much you should be participating. Once you get an idea of the all people you are working with and have to speak in front of, your fear of participating will be a thing of the past!  

Our Writers

Ariel is a senior at Fairleigh Dickinson University with a major in English Literature and a minor in History. When she is not writing or studying for class, she can be found at the movies or volunteering at her local hospital. She hopes to work as a journalist or a grant writer.

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