A lecture hall should be like a church. A little too dark, much too cold, and uncomfortably silent. You should feel anxious opening your water bottle, because all 200 people in the room can hear it.

So when I’m trying to pay attention (not as rare as you may believe), the last thing you should be doing is carrying on a conversation about last weekend’s mixer. Or anything else, for that matter. 

I’ve found in one semester at UR that one of my biggest gripes with large class sizes is the tendency for three to five friends to sit together and loudly whisper each other’s ears off for an hour and 15 minutes straight. My stupid monkey brain can’t help but hyperfocus on your riveting conversation about the difference between ash blonde and light blonde highlights that look exactly the same. 

To me, it just feels like a waste. We (and the government) pay a lot of money to ignore someone significantly more experienced than us, in classes we picked, for hours every week. 

I know major requirements can be boring, but this is still an education. It requires two-way effort. Most of students here have at least one goal in common: success. Not every checkpoint on that path is going to be filled with joy. Sit down, shut up, and force yourself to listen your professor with the stupidly nasal voice. Society tells us it will eventually pay off.

Or maybe it won’t because you don’t want to. 

I actually don’t care if you decide to pay little to no attention to the lecture itself, so long as you’re not being disruptive. I can’t make you care about your classes. And I’ll readily admit it’s often a beefed-up PowerPoint read-aloud while you retype the bullet points verbatim into a Google Doc. It’s not that exciting and can easily get done outside the prime sleeping hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sit here in silence and shop on Amazon. It’s rather entertaining to watch someone two rows in front of me switch through five different tabs of socks. Just let it sink into your conscience that you’re actively wasting money, and missing vital information. 

For those willing to try, in 20 years when you finally pay off your debt with your fairly secure white-collar job, you’ll look back and be happy you endured the lectures. Knowing you put in effort, and not just earned your degree but feel confident and satisfied in the work you did to get there, will make that quarter of a million dollar piece of paper worth it, right?

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