## Is going to lecture a huge waste of time?

 Quote by mathwonk apparently there are many bad lecturers out there. but in my experience it takes 3 or more hours to recreate the content of a one hour lecture. moreover, it makes no sense to skip a lecture you have paid for. by skipping lectures you are thus wasting both money and time. if you really are able to learn more by reading than going to lecture, then either you are a very poor listener, or you are wasting your tuition at an extremely poor college. change one of those things. and i guarantee you that most professors in my dept enjoy their teaching. of course it is tempting to conjecture that would change if most students were unwilling even to attend classes they have prepared. a most rewarding experience is watching a reluctant or insecure student grow in confidence and knowledge as they realize that with effort they can indeed master the ideas. let me put it this way: there is nothing as valuable as personal contact with a good teacher. if you have not chosen a good teacher, what are you doing there? stop bragging about how superior you are to your pitiful school, turn around and get out of there as soon as possible, and go directly to a good school or a good teacher and start going to class and to office hours. do it now. it is your life, if you are a sincere student, you deserve good teachers, insist on them. I guarantee you they are also looking for good students.
Tuition is a sunk cost. Rationality dictates choosing the avenue of learning which will give you the greatest benefit for the least cost. The benefit I receive from lectures has a an opportunity cost of textbook reading that is greater than the cost of lectures associated with textbook reading. For me, anyway. I'm trying to understand the material as best I can in the finite amount of time I have, and do as well as I can on exams. You are paying for the ability to write the exams and receive the degree, nothing more.

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 Quote by EngCommand Ask all the staff @ my uni department, I guarantee that >95% will tell you how much they hate teaching.
At my university, almost all professors seem to enjoy teaching. At least, they sure give off the impression of enjoying themselves during lecture.

 Quote by coreluccio You are paying for the ability to write the exams and receive the degree, nothing more.
So why not just find the cheapest university out there?

 Quote by EngCommand OK, but is their teaching worth $100,000 of debt? If you're taking on a$100k debt load, I would suggest either reading some different books or attending some different lectures.

 Quote by Choppy So why not just find the cheapest university out there?
Because unfortunately degrees from different schools carry with them different levels of prestige. If I could get an engineering degree from some online school and have it mean the same thing as one from a reputable school, I would. In an ideal world, degrees wouldn't be granted from universities but from government. You pay a small fee to sit an exam set up by the provincial/state/etc. government and once you have all the courses you need you can attain the degree. Unfortunately we live in a world where we have to be shaken down by unnecessary middlemen known as universities. The sprawling campuses and large lecture theaters are just a front.

 Quote by coreluccio Because unfortunately degrees from different schools carry with them different levels of prestige. If I could get an engineering degree from some online school and have it mean the same thing as one from a reputable school, I would.
What exactly determines the different levels of prestige?
 Recognitions: Homework Help Science Advisor boy what a cynic. you seem to be spending too much time isolated in your own company. going to class can cause incidental meetings with smarter and more elevated thinkers, which can be quite beneficial. It happened to me when I got cynical about my uni. I had a lab partner who actually wanted to understand the stuff. It did me good.

 Quote by coreluccio Unfortunately we live in a world where we have to be shaken down by unnecessary middlemen known as universities. The sprawling campuses and large lecture theaters are just a front.
Universities also happen to have a lot of useful (and expensive) equipment. Quite important for some subjects...

 Quote by GregJ Universities also happen to have a lot of useful (and expensive) equipment. Quite important for some subjects...

Eugh.

Postgraduate students benefit most from the equitment.

Undergraduate students do not. They slave away in the labs for free (working on their undergraduate research)......and they have to pay to do it too!

 Quote by Choppy So why not just find the cheapest university out there?
I agree with this. That's what I did for my undergraduate 3-year degree here in the UK. It didn't stop me getting into one of the best universities in the entire world to study for my PhD chemical engineering.

Come to think of it, I was much less pressured/stressed than my friends who went to much more prestigious universities, and I definitely had more time to learn @ my own pace and cover certain topics that I found interesting in more depth.

If I had went to one of the higher-end universities, I would of had to stick to a much, much tighter work schedule and balance a much, much higher workload, which I don't think I would have benefited from.

Anyone agree with my thinking?
 Maybe it works differently in the UK, but I think it is perfectly possible to have a flexible schedule at a high end university. Aren't some courses in Cambridge structured to offer maximal flexibility till the exam at the end, so you can learn at your pace and style till then? Cheap universities could be full of busy work.
 Mentor I think you're kidding yourself if you think  = quality of instruction, at least in my experience. Some of the best instructors/lecturers I've had were at community colleges! After community college, I did graduate from what is considered to be a good school for physics (University of Washington) and many of the lecturers there were not so great. Meh, I think prestige is over-rated. Re the OP: no, lecture is not a waste of time, given the way most people learn. The best way to learn something, I think, is a bit of reading, a bit of hearing (lecture), a lot of working the problems, topped off with a question and answer session. In the best of all worlds, you'd have a great book, a great professor, lots of time to work problems, and a TA who is on top of things. In reality, we rarely get all those things in a nice package. But in general, it's good to hear an expert explain something.

 Quote by EngCommand OK, but is their teaching worth \$100,000 of debt?
I studied in France so it's question I never had to ask myself (free instruction because my parents were quite poor). Indeed, in your case I would think twice about going to college.

 Quote by deRham Maybe it works differently in the UK, but I think it is perfectly possible to have a flexible schedule at a high end university. Aren't some courses in Cambridge structured to offer maximal flexibility till the exam at the end, so you can learn at your pace and style till then? Cheap universities could be full of busy work.
Yes, maybe.

But I think it's less likely.
 Then your country certainly must have a different system. At a top ranked school in the US, students have immense flexibility, often more so than at lower schools, in terms of when they add courses and drop them, what they take, etc. The range of things offered is greater. The classes, while often more rigorous in material at top ranked schools, will not be more harshly graded on average than at a lower ranked but still good school. The top schools which force an inordinate number of requirements down a student's throat as compared to the average school are slim in number in the US. A school like Caltech forces students to take a lot of hard classes outside their majors, but that is something students going there opt for, and that is a pretty incredibly small school. Most schools are not like that. You get a lot of flexibility. Can you explain what makes it less likely in the UK?

 Quote by deRham Then your country certainly must have a different system. At a top ranked school in the US, students have immense flexibility, often more so than at lower schools, in terms of when they add courses and drop them, what they take, etc. The range of things offered is greater. The classes, while often more rigorous in material at top ranked schools, will not be more harshly graded on average than at a lower ranked but still good school. The top schools which force an inordinate number of requirements down a student's throat as compared to the average school are slim in number in the US. A school like Caltech forces students to take a lot of hard classes outside their majors, but that is something students going there opt for, and that is a pretty incredibly small school. Most schools are not like that. You get a lot of flexibility. Can you explain what makes it less likely in the UK?
Generally in the UK if you study science or engineering at university you have absolutely no say in what modules you take for the first two years. Only in third year do you get a very limited choice of what to study (i.e you might have control over 1/3 of your modules in 3rd year if you're lucky).

The situation is completely different if you study arts where you have almost total flexibility throughout your entire degree.
 Ah yes, I should have known. That is true in some other countries following a similar system. The US schools often basically let you do whatever you want, to the point where you could do a first year requirement (something intended as first year foundational material) in your last year. You are required to do a few core subjects, but often over 60 percent of your undergrad is left for experimenting. Some engineering subjects are a bit less free, though. A subject like math or physics offers you tons of freedom for sure.