Wide Awake

Have you ever been caught by a strict professor for dozing off in his/her class? Do your friends make it a point to remind you of it every chance they get? These don’t sound like urgent enough reasons to remain awake during class, but let’s assume something more is at stake, like a Letter of Recommendation. Imagine the ignominy when you are about to ask your professor for a recommendation, but already know the outcome – rejection.

Even if you are an I-don’t-care-a-fig-about-engineering-but-just-want-to-pass person, lack of attendance can come back to bite you. If your attendance is terrible and just about to dip below the 75% mark and it is absolutely impossible for you to keep your eyeballs from popping out, this article could come in handy.


Typically, students feel sleepy in class because:

1. The nature of the class itself is boring.

2. You probably had to stay up till 4 to finish watching the latest episode of your favourite TV show or write lab records.

3. You were having a mini DJ night in your hostel that went overboard.

One thing is for certain though, there’s no way that the college WiFi could have kept you up. With just a week left for college to re-open, the need of the hour is to learn the art of keeping your eyes wide open in boring classes. The key lies in killing time effectively. Here are five tips you can follow to stay wide awake in sleepy classes.

Disclaimer: The writer is merely giving tips on keeping the eyes open. It is really up to the reader to keep their ears open too. The tips have been consolidated after interviewing experts on the matter. The writer is not responsible if these tips fail.

1. The Doodle

If you are someone who can draw the perfect stick figure without much hassle, there is a twofold benefit with this tip – you can hone your artistic ability as well. Did your parents kill your ambition to be an artist? Tough tins! But with this tip, you can finally realize the potential your parents never saw in you. Allow your creative juices to flow during the class. Tap into the Dali or Da Vinci within you (remember to look at the professor and board every now and then to avoid suspicion).

2. Ctrl-C Ctrl-V

Periodic and conscious motion of your head oscillating up and down is mandatory in this act (The other kind of involuntary periodic motion of your head happens when you are nodding off to sleep). Keep drawing the graphs of functions or piston diagrams as carefully as you can, with the utmost perfection in your notebook. Treat it as an art class. You may even bring a geometric box to assist you. After all, it is an engineering course, isn’t it?

3. The Curious Cat

Sometimes, you may want to remain in the good books of your faculty. On the contrary, you may not be in a position to stay awake in class due to the reasons already mentioned. Pick up some technical words that you hear in class (this requires just a little bit of effort, but is ultimately worth it). Put them in the form of a question. Bingo! You now have a genuine doubt to ask the professor. Another alternative is to point at any equation on the board and ask, “How did we arrive at this, sir?” or “Why are we making this assumption?” Show the Thespian’s Society what they missed out on when they didn’t induct you by putting on an acting masterclass. Blink regularly for better results.

4. The Stroll – The Ultimate Saviour

In any class, there is a “peak of sleepiness” that every student attains which corresponds to a saturation point. Anything you try beyond this point is to no avail. In such times of emergency, raise your hand. Keep staring at the professor until eye-contact is made. Stand up and politely ask, “May I use the restroom?” or  “May I fill some water?”. The latter may not work if your professor doesn’t consider it a valid reason. Both questions won’t work very well if the class is right after the break. Nevertheless, give it a shot. Once permission is granted, walk at your normal pace until you reach the classroom door. Once you have reached the door, walk as slow as you want to. Do take your time to peep into other classrooms and subtly wave/nod at friends, perhaps get to know the people at the water cooler. Let your creativity do the rest. Remember, this tip won’t work more than once per class.

5. The Hulk

If you really can’t keep your eyes open and the above tips have failed too many times, then you are better off actually sleeping. However, precautions must be taken before you perform this dangerous act. The first step is to identify “The Hulk” of your class. In other words, find a person who is considerably taller than you and muscular enough to be your screen. Keep your notebook open at a page which has some equations and random diagrams related to the subject. Have a pen in your hand. Now, strategically sit behind “The Hulk”. You can slumber peacefully by lying down on the table under the pretext of bending close to the notebook in order to write.

Note: There is considerable risk involved in doing this if your teacher has the habit of walking around the class or is quite tall. The fact that each row is at a higher elevation than the previous one is of disadvantage to you.

Ideally, follow tips 1 and 2 for 30-40 mins, tip 3 for 5-10 mins and tip 4 for 7-15 mins (in extreme cases). Summing the time durations up, we get 50 mins, which is sufficient to effectively kill time in class. You may change the order and time duration of the tips based on your preference, professor and convenience. Good luck for your upcoming semester!

An article by S Swedha

Illustrations by Siva Prakash


The official media house of NIT Trichy.

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