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I’m begging you to stop multitasking in class

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I sit behind the same guy in my English class. For the entire time I watch as he pulls up Youtube and watches basketball highlights for 50 minutes. Last week, the girl 3 seats away from me was blasting music so loud through her airpods that I could hear it clearly. I’m sure you have these people in your classes too. Maybe you even are one of these people. It’s hard not to be. But as someone who has been both a close note taker and an in-class-online-shopper, I’m begging you to stop multitasking in class. 

As technology has worked its way into higher education over the past 20 years, laptops have become an essential tool for college students. I use my laptop to take notes, read textbooks, write essays, and submit all my assignments. My laptop is my lifeline to my academic world. However, when it comes to work, laptops are necessary evils. When I’m doing work on my laptop, it’s a constant struggle of keeping myself on task. Suddenly, taking notes turns into an hour on Amazon or writing an essay becomes watching another episode of New Girl. This isn’t always terrible, but we start to stray into dangerous territory when we start spending all of our class time online shopping or playing Sims 4.

Sometimes classes are mind-numbing and all you want to do is get other work done. Or, you’re just having a bad day and can’t sit through a physics lecture. We’ve all been there. However, when you start to spend every class multitasking or completely ignoring the professor, things go downhill quickly. You miss important content and chances to participate. For the more financially-minded students, think of all the money you’re wasting if you don’t get the most out of your classes. And for those of you with some social graces, think of how distracting your activities are to those who are trying to pay attention. Even if you have other pressing things to do, class time should be carved out in your schedule as a specific time to be learning. When you don’t pay full attention, you’ll often find yourself doing even more work later on to try and contextualize what you missed in class. You’re doing yourself and those around you a disservice when you spend class time multitasking. 

This is the part where I expose myself for being a bit of a try hard. I can’t help that I like to talk, and that often manifests in answering plenty of questions in class. It’s a lot of Hermione Granger energy. I always try to share the space and not monopolize the discussion. However, it gets extremely difficult for me to not raise my hand when most of the class isn’t even paying attention. I can’t begin to count the amount of awkward silences I’ve sat through as professors wait for someone else besides me to raise their hand. Most of the time these aren’t difficult questions and are often just asking people their opinion or to share any thought at all. The professor is often left awkwardly waiting in front of a sea of people with their eyes locked on their screens. Think of what it must be like for them to look out at their students who are all zoned out on different things rather than paying attention to the topic they’re taking the time to share. Even more, no one has the chance to learn as those who do want to participate have no one to interact with. 

It’s a hard truth that not everyone at college is prioritizing their learning. Some don’t realize what a privilege it is to even be able to attend college. But for those who do, it’s important to engage with the learning experience. Not only will you have a better grip on the concept, but the class will become more enjoyable for everyone. Next time you pull out your laptop to online shop during class, consider switching it out for a notebook and pen.

Julia is a freshman English major at Lasell. She enjoys reading, writing, exploring nature, and spending time with her family. Most nights you can find her in bed watching Keira Knightley movies.
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