One of the biggest questions for college students is whether or not they should go to lectures. Some people are adamant that attending lectures is the key to success. Others say that lectures are a waste of time and you can be more efficient without them. Ultimately, the correct choice depends on your circumstances.

Reasons to go to lectures

Class has a great lecturer

Many classes have bad, boring lectures done by people who have to teach you. But there are a few classes that have fun, engaging lectures done by people who want to teach you. Lecturers who are passionate about teaching will do whatever is necessary to ensure your understanding and entertainment. With this kind of lecturer, the most boring subject suddenly becomes fun. If you have the opportunity to go to one of these, then don’t waste it. Just go. Not enrolled? No worries, neither are half the people in there.

Meet people

Lectures aren’t just about listening to someone preach for two hours. They’re also are a great place to meet new people and bond over how hard the class is and how tired you are. When the professor says something that leaves you completely lost, you look at your neighbor without words and they look back at you, and there’s a special kind of bond you have in your mutual cluelessness.

Class is hard

If you have absolutely no experience with the subject then you should definitely go to lecture. Even if you have a good textbook, you’re going to want to have things explained by the professor. In this case you should be reading ahead in your textbook and using the lecture to clarify things.

All your friends are doing it

Who knew there would be positive peer pressure at college.

Reasons not to go to lectures

You already know the material

If you have a good amount of experience in the subject, then you’ll be fine just using the textbook and maybe the occasional office hours. You should still go to lecture once a week just to make sure you’re on track.

It’s boring

If you have a bad lecturer who’s reading straight out of the textbook and making everyone fall asleep, then there isn’t much reason to go. Trying to learn from a boring lecture will waste your time, drain your energy and leave you just as clueless as when you arrived. In this case you should probably try the hybrid method where you go to lecture but do work for another class.

The lectures are available online

If the lectures are online then you could get most of the advantages of going to lecture, but on your own time. This is a pretty good compromise if you want time flexibility, or are too lazy to wake up for that 8AM lecture.

Note: You still have to actually watch the lectures at some point. And I don’t mean having a lecture marathon the night before finals.

All your friends are doing it

At least you’ll all get C’s together. In solidarity.

You have your own crazy ambitious goals

Elon Musk hardly went to class: “When I went to college, I rarely went to class. I’d just read the textbook and show up for exams.”

If you’re trying to take people to Mars, maybe you should skip class.

Warning about self discipline

If you aren’t a master of self discipline, i.e almost every college student, you should just go to lecture. You could theoretically learn twice as much by studying on your own during the lecture time. But what’s actually going to happen is that you’ll sleep through the lecture time, be too lazy to do anything, then start the homework the midnight before it’s due.

Hybrid Method

This strategy gives you the advantages of going to lecture without limiting your productivity. You go to every lecture, but instead of listening, you do your own work. This way, you can pay attention if something particularly interesting happens, but otherwise get some other work done. You don’t have to worry about self discipline since you’re already in a productive environment.

Choose wisely

No matter what, you should still go to the first week of lectures just to see how it goes. If you decide to go to lecture, actually focus while you’re there. If you’re going to lecture to browse Facebook or fall asleep, maybe you shouldn’t be there. If you decide not to go to lecture, make sure you have a friend who goes. That way you’ll always be up to date with the latest announcements and exam hints.