10 tips to get the most out of your seminar

Calum Hebron 3rd Year - Religion, Politics & Society BA

Now you know the differences between College and University I can help you ace those seminars in your first year!

TIP:   #6 is the answer to academic life, #2 is the key to university life, #7 is the bane of a student’s life!

#1 Attend your seminar

As obvious as this may seem you’d be amazed at how easy it is to persuade yourself you don’t need to go, or that nobody else will, or that sleep is more important. Don’t let yourself be fooled, seminars are one of your best tools for fully understanding a subject!

#2 Make a Friend in each seminar

Getting the most out of a seminar involves more than just academia! Knowing a friend will be at the seminar will both motivate you to attend and make group discussion less awkward. As far as meeting people, these small group environments are far easier than a large lecture (#7 will help!!).

#3 Bring a notebook and leave the laptop at home

In order to get the most out of a seminar you need to be able to engage! 15 laptops between everyone is a surprisingly strong barrier to a group discussion. Being able to scribble notes but still be a part of the conversation is really important. This is continued in #4!

#4 Discuss, discuss, discuss!

A seminar is your academic opportunity to actually talk! You don’t get to talk in essays, you hardly get to talk in lectures, here’s your chance. If you don’t understand something then get it explained, once and for all. If nobody talks in a seminar, you’ve just got a lecture with less people and more awkward silences.

#5 If you disagree, then disagree

If you don’t think someone has justified their point, if you think they’ve got the wrong end of the stick, if you think they’re plain wrong, then disagree! Justifying and countering disagreement is your ‘How To’ for essay writing. Knowing how to properly disagree is a skill learnt through practice.

#6 Do the reading!

Every seminar will have a reading assigned for you to have done before you attend. Do it!! If you haven’t done this reading then you can’t engage, you can’t discuss, you can barely disagree! A seminar with the reading gives you 100% more than a seminar without the reading.

#7 Turn up early

Shock. Horror. These are words no student ever expects. BUT, if you turn up early (just 5-10 minutes, nothing too horrific) then you really can get more out of your seminars. This few minutes is your opportunity to meet new people and make friends in your seminar. These 10 minute slots of time are far more important than people think!

#8 Make it up

Okay, not quite ‘Make it up’. But if you’re just starting to understand something then try to make an analogy! If the best way for you to understand Meditation is to reference soup, then that’s great! Not only will this help you understand and remember it but everyone else will inevitably remember your weird analogy as well!

#9 Look at the essay questions

If your subject has essays questions then I expect your seminars will deal with the same topics. Knowing these in advance gives you a huge advantage! If you can make your lecturer talk about the exact essay topic then you’re in a far better position to write that essay. Lecturers have a tendency to forget their own essay questions, so reminding them is really helpful for you and the other students!

#10 Dress to impress

If you dress well it is inevitable that you will feel more confident in a seminar. Do this for your first seminar and you’ll feel confident enough to make a friend before the seminar. Keep doing it and you’ll be confident enough to make points in your seminar. Making the effort to feel comfortable and confident in a seminar helps in so many ways. It helps you make friends and  engage but mainly, it helps you wake up properly before a seminar!

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