Written by: Shermaine Lim
It’s the start of Semester 2. New year, new semester, new classes and new you, perhaps? Hopefully, this semester would be a better and a more productive one. In fact, a study has revealed that where you sit in lectures can vastly affect your learning experience in that class and your grade at the end of the semester.
For those who don’t gravitate towards consistency or preference in choosing a seat in lecture, we’ve rounded up a list of pros and cons for you to consider.
Being present at the front of the lecture hall grants you immediate access to a vibrant (more or less) and conducive learning environment. There is little opportunity for a nap or swiping on Instagram. Being right in front of a professor tends to keep you more engaged with the lecture and content. It can become stressful and daunting at times as well, which is actually beneficial because you’re more likely to pay attention and focus and not snooze.
Picture this: you are halfway through the lecture when the professor poses a question. They look at you. You look back. You are now the sole target of an incoming threat. You have been chosen. Good luck. But since you’re at the front, you’re more likely to know the answer.
Taking the back seat literally. Sitting here guarantees a certain level of respite from the intense pressure of the front row. There is minimal chance of unwillingly becoming the centre of attention and you have the freedom to yawn, stretch your legs and indulge in the occasional gossip without being called out.
However, this spot does have a disadvantage in terms of auditory clarity. There is nothing quite as vexing as having to, as one would say, squint one’s ears over the rippling murmur of conversation to understand that the mitochondria is indeed the powerhouse of the cell. It’s just the many cons of being in Daydream Land. Knowledge is already an effort, and there is no prestige in inconvenience.
In every spectrum, there is a position that cannot make up its mind. This is it. Here, you have access to both the comfort of the back row and the clarity of the first row. You are the centre of the cosmos, the scrabble row holding the entire game together. The middle of the pack.
However, while it may seem that you have killed two birds with one chair, you may end up drawing the short straw and having to deal with the negative aspects of both the back and the front seats instead.
Imagine this: you are squinting at the screen. Everything is a blur, except for the jarring eyes of your professor. They pick you, and you cannot hear the question. You turn to your friends and they stare back at you blankly. You’re on your own, buddy.
So, what now?
Ultimately, we are all adults and we already hold the power to decide where we sit. Gone are the days where we had assigned seats and didn’t have to make a decision on where to sit.
You determine your own fate based on what is most conducive for you. If you do not enjoy pressure, gravitate towards the back of the hall. If it’s hard to see the screen or hear the lecturer, sit in the front. There is no correct choice, and there is no hierarchy in arrangement. Different students have different needs or circumstances and feel free to change seats if you realise that another spot would suit you better.
The most important thing during that lecture is that you learn. And maybe, just maybe, that you don’t show up in your pajamas.