Why You Should Speak Up in Class


In college many professors stress the importance of speaking up in class. In fact, they often emphasize it by making verbal participation a mandatory part of grades.  If you’re like many students, seeing that dreaded “participation” section on the syllabus can make them fearful of the semester ahead. Speaking up in class can seem intimidating, and it may be the last thing you want to do. Maybe you prefer to listen quietly, or take diligent notes, or maybe you’re just worried that your contributions won’t be significant.  I had these thoughts too.

What you may not know–and what I certainly didn’t know until recently–is that your active discussion in a class conversation is more beneficial than you might think. When I finally let go of my apprehensions and started raising my hand, my entire college classroom experience changed. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Here’s why you should consider it too:

It helps the time pass.  

Two hours of Biology can feel like a lifetime when you’re staring at a wall and trying to listen to a monotone lecture. When you raise your hand and speak up, whether it be in response to a question posed, to ask one of your own, or just to contribute an idea, you’re forced to become engaged. You’re forced to listen, think, and communicate. Not to mention, you’ll probably encourage others to do the same, thus igniting a conversation much more stimulating than the one between your professor and his or her PowerPoint. The next thing you know, it might just be time for lunch.    

It gives you brownie points.  

Professors love active participation. It’s their dream come true. When a class discussion bounces from student to student, look up at your professor–chances are, he or she is beaming. If making your professor happy isn’t incentive enough to speak up, then consider the positive impact it will have on your grade. When it’s clear that you’re engaged and thinking about the material, your professor notices, and it pays off.  

It is a confidence booster.  

When you speak up, the response you’ll get–whether from the professor or another student–will make you realize that what you have to say is valid and valuable. You’re helping to guide a discussion. You’re inspiring your classmates to think.  Speaking out makes you a leader, and others will come to value your input.  Use this as an opportunity to work on your leadership skills; you’ll need them in the future.  Knowing that you have worthwhile and interesting ideas will build your confidence up tenfold.  

It makes you learn more.  

Becoming an active part of class will lead you to think more carefully about the class material.  Plus, talking deeply about your thoughts on the material will spark more passionate learning, and before you know it, you’ll be excited for Biology and your grade.  

Our Writers

Rachel spent the last two years studying English and Writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and is now continuing her studies at Oakland University. Her passions outside of writing include coffee, her dear dog Bodi, reading, and coffee. She’s a big believer in enjoying the little things in life, like sunny mornings, starry nights, and the Oxford comma. And coffee.

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