As each semester rolls around there always seems to be a class or two that sounds interesting enough until you see the time of the class. There’s the dreaded 4:35-7:10pm, 6:00-8:30pm, and especially the 7:15-9:45pm time slot that seems to immediately have an imaginary red X over the class when skimming the Term Master Schedule. As someone who has had at least one evening class every year for the past four years, I have learned the ins and outs of managing an evening class.
1. Plan ahead of time
Somehow it always magically lined up that the day of my night classes was also the day that I would also have classes start at 9:40am and run practically through, with the exception of an hour or so break between, until my evening class. Take for instance this semester. On Thursdays I’m on campus from 10 o’clock in the morning until 7:30 at night. During this time, I am continuously working. This excruciatingly long day would run a rookie into the burnt-out slumber of pure exhaustion.
However, to plan ahead for the long day I always go to bed 45 minutes to an hour earlier than I usually do. Even if I can’t sleep at least that gives my brain and body time to relax before a stressful day. I’ll do the same thing during the day, minus the sleep. During that hour or so chunk of time that I use to catch up or get ahead on school work, I’ll make sure to leave a 10-minute block at the beginning and end to mentally prepare for what lies ahead.
2. Drink water before and during class
As a general rule of thumb, you should drink half to one ounce of water per every pound you weigh. For most adults that adds up to much more than the 64 oz. we all heard as children. Drinking half to your whole weight (in ounces) of water a day has an infinite number of benefits. One of those benefits is helping you stay awake.
Even during regular class times it can be a struggle to keep your eyes open. With an evening class I’ve learned this potential heavy-eye syndrome only increases. By staying hydrated, you prevent dehydration, which, in return, prevents tiredness.
Switching your regular water for ice water right before class can help even more. When drinking ice water your body has to work even harder to regulate your core temperature. This extra work can help keep your body alert even when sitting still during the evening class.
3. Bring snacks or even dinner
My first few terms with evening classes I didn’t do this, but I wish I had. Of course each professor is different, but for the most part, they understand that these class times align perfectly with a typical dinner time not just for students but for them as well. Half of the professors I had for evening classes (two of my four evening classes were science where food is not allowed) would encourage me to bring food. One of my professors even brought snacks to every class for herself and her students to eat throughout.
An extremely common event to occur during these evening classes, especially since most of them are double class time, is to break for 15-20 minutes in the middle of class. During this time students are free to walk around, eat food, or do nothing. Even during my science classes we were allowed to use this time as we saw fit. We just had to make sure if we were going to eat or drink that it be done in the hallway.
4. Don’t look at the clock
This is a well-known fact among practically all retail workers. This fact should be just as well-known for anyone taking evening classes. The clock can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. It will either indicate you were having such a great time in that particular class that time just flew by without your knowledge, or, more accurately, time will indicate what you thought was 30 minutes was really only 4 (trust me, that has happened to me before).
For my evening classes I typically positioned myself in a seat that would cause great strain to take a quick peek at the clock. If you don’t believe in this betrayal of the clock, just try it. I cannot be held responsible, though, for the outcome should you attempt this frowned-upon act.
5. Enjoy the class
At the end of the day, evening classes are not merely as bad as the stigma placed on them. In fact, all of the evening classes I’ve ever had were much more interactive than pure lecture; this makes the class so much more enjoyable and goes by so much faster. The professors of these evening classes know that most of you have already had a long day before coming to class. The same is true for the professor. With that knowledge, from my experience, the professors tried to make the class fun. This may have been done through watching a few YouTube videos on a certain topic instead of being lectured. This may have been done through interactive labs, or this may have been done through allowing the students to teach the class and have the professor there to simply monitor for time and how closely the discussion was staying to the assignment.