How was your experience with large college classes?

I am taking a class this semester and there are going to be 168 seats filled according to the website. The largest class I have been in had 57. Does it make a huge difference when you have that many people in a class? Does it affect your learning? What should I expect? I’m a little nervous and I know a few may drop the course or change times but it is still a big class. It is Human Anatomy and Physiology I.

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  • It really depends on how your college structures the classes. At mine, I’ve had several classes with about 250 students in them, and this semester I’m going to be in one with 350. How it works at my school is that the lecture portion of the course is the one with the massive amount of students, and it usually meets 2 times a week. The lecture is usually taught by a professor, although I have had a few that were taught by grad students. The lecture is basically just taking notes on the material and listening to the instructor explain it. Then on Fridays, you have the discussion portion of the course which usually has between 25 and 30 students in it. The discussion sections are always led by grad students. This is where it’s more like traditional high school classes where you can ask questions and do activities to reinforce the material. The professors and grad students have always held their own office hours for all of the classes I’ve taken, and they encourage you to visit if you have more questions or need any help.

    Some people have trouble with the huge lecture halls, but for me it’s fine. The only thing you really lose is that interaction with the professor, other than that though…they’re still teaching the same material, just to a larger group of people. As long as you pay attention, study your notes, and go for help when you’re confused, you should do fine.

    Good luck!

  • Donald B

    It does not matter as long as it is just a lecture. You really would not be able to ask questions usually. Although occasionally the prof might ask if there are questions. Just know that the tests will probably be objective tests i.e. multiple choice.

  • Don’t worry too much about it. The profs are usually well-equipped for handling massive class sizes in these cases. It doesn’t mean, either, that you will be negatively affected. Larger classes tend to be higher in demand, but not many people may actually be as interested in the content; some of them might just be there for the minimal pass and credits for their core requirements or options.

    If you’re nervous, just take the opportunity to greet your professors and introduce yourself. Establish connections with them as you would any other prof, and never, ever feel intimidated to ask for help! It might seem like it could wind up being impersonal, but the students who reach out for help will absolutely receive it. (: There will be fewer discussions, but you’ll still be encouraged to ask questions, both in and outside of class time, and the exams will be on par with many other exams you might already be familiar with if they’re not solely multiple-choice.

  • monkey

    I had 300 in a few of my classes. If you sit near the front it doesn’t make the class seem as big. The only effect on learning is that in class discussion don’t really occur in them. Its not that hard to ask questions. It also allows you to not be called on to answer questions that you may not know. Most large classes are purely lecture. The prof comes in gives the notes. Maybe answers or ask questions then class is over.

  • matt m-h

    I have only had one big class over the course my college years. It was my HPX class, or basically "college gym". Most of my other classes had about 20 – 25 people in the class, this one had about 60 – 70. But it was cool. My professor was great and she graded fairly. Most times, she would even let us get out of class about 10 minutes early or so. I met a few people in that class and made a few friendships. I’ve never taken a class that had more than 100 people in it, like what you described. You may feel that you can’t keep up with the learning, so it’s important to ask your professor questions if you don’t understand something.

  • Renee

    I’ve attended classes that had over 125 students in a single lecture but that was more for general lectures or topics requiring minimal individual interaction between teacher and student. While I would personally prefer smaller classes (between 30-40 students) for A&P, my main concern in larger classes would be the type and quality of students rather than the size.

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