How to survive night classes

Shae Slaughter

The semester is back in full swing, and that means thousands of students taking classes all day, every day. Most of us students have ideal class times based on whether we’re early risers or night owls. Still, I think we can all agree that we’ve had to take a class or two at a time that wasn’t perfect for us. That’s right, 8 a.m. classes, I’m talking to you. But a potentially more problematic class (if you’re like me, that is) occurs at night: the dreadful “6 to 9.”

These night classes can be either a blessing or a curse depending on each individual student’s wants and needs. They’re awesome for people who have full-time jobs, and they’re even better for people who prefer to limit their class frequency to just one day. But for me, 6 to 9s represent one simple thing: a last resort.

As a senior, I’ve taken a handful of night classes in an effort to make the most out of a semester or to fit my school schedule around my work schedule. Still, I find them to be difficult in comparison to most of my classes. The material is comparable, but since I work an office job with normal hours, it’s hard for me to stay alert and ready to learn from the time I get out of work at 5 p.m. until class ends at 9 p.m.

Three hours of intensive learning can be hard on anyone, but my years of night classes have taught me a few ways to survive. First, make sure to bring snacks or to eat before class begins. I also recommend bringing a water bottle because you’re bound to get thirsty. My ideal setup is fitting in dinner before class and then bringing a light snack and a water bottle for about halfway through class. It’s hard to concentrate for three hours, but paying attention on an empty stomach is virtually impossible. 

Second, make sure that you adequately prepare for each and every class. A 6 to 9 only happens once a week, which means that you have limited class times to perform well. Yes, the reading lists between classes can be long, but that’s why you have seven days to get it all done. Once again, sitting in class for three hours is hard, but not as hard as sitting in class for three hours when you have no clue what the material you’re supposed to be covering is even about.

Third, make use of the breaks you’re given. Most professors will give you some time off about halfway through class, or, if you’re lucky, they’ll let you have two breaks. Take this time to get up, walk, grab a drink or use the restroom. If you think you don’t need the break, think again: I promise, sitting in your chair for three hours straight will drain the life out of you.

When it comes down to it, chances are that you’ll have to take a class that doesn’t fit your schedule quite perfectly. Still, you probably need that class and you probably need that A. If you got stuck with a 6 to 9, just approach it strategically and the three hours will fly by.