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How to Make School a Conscious Effort

Darrin Lythgoe

Use these ideas to help you stay awake and alert during class.

Have you ever struggled to stay awake in class? It’s not a pleasant feeling, especially if you suddenly realize you missed something important. If it seems to happen a lot, the answer may include making school a higher priority. In any case, the following strategy will certainly lead to long-lasting results. Start today! Your education—and your future—may depend on it

Prepare Physically

  • Get plenty of sleep. No matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s still true. It’s even scriptural (see D&C 88:124).
  • Follow a regular sleep pattern. Getting ten hours one night and three the next may leave your body confused as well as tired, so work out a steady schedule and stick to it.
  • Eat healthy meals, especially before and during school. It’s hard for your mind to pay attention if your body is weak, hungry, or both.
  • If you need glasses, wear them. It’s easier to focus mentally when you can focus visually.

Know Your Stuff

  • Do your homework on time. Teachers give homework to help you learn the subject matter and prepare for the next class, so don’t take it lightly. Going to class unprepared is a little like trying to eat an apple without any teeth.
  • Go beyond the assignment. If you have time, a little extra reading or studying on the topic may help you get a lot more comfortable with it.
  • Teach it to someone else. If you can explain math to a friend or Shakespeare to your dad, you should be able to understand well enough to follow your own teachers.
  • Study in groups. Talking it over with a few classmates after school will give you access to their insights as well as your own.
  • If you’re still lost, get additional help. Talk to the teacher or ask a friend who seems to understand. If labs or teaching assistants are available, make use of them.

Get Involved

  • If possible, sit in front where you can see and hear clearly. Like concerts and sporting events, school is more interesting close up.
  • Sit up straight. You will pay better attention, and your body won’t be so prone to thinking it’s nap time. And hey, good posture can’t be bad for you, right?
  • Concentrate on what’s being taught. If the teacher uses a textbook, bring it to class and follow along. Don’t let your mind wander.
  • Form your own opinions. Do you agree with the facts as they are being presented? How would you debate or defend them?
  • Ask questions, make comments, and express your opinions. By interacting with teachers and other students, you will gain a lot more than mere consciousness.
  • Take thorough notes. Write constantly, organizing as you go. With your hands and mind active, your eyes will find it easier to stay open.

Last Resorts

  • Hold your feet six inches off the floor.
  • Take your shoes off for a while.
  • Glance around the room occasionally (but keep your mind on the subject).
  • Ask a friend to poke you if you start to drift off.


Some methods for staying awake in class aren’t such hot ideas. Here are a few you should definitely avoid.

  • Don’t take drugs of any kind to stay awake. They can be addicting, and they’re not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. Habits like this can be dangerous—and expensive.
  • Don’t eat junk food for energy. Sugar can give you a short boost, but when it fades you may be even more drowsy. And then there’s tooth decay …
  • No all-nighters. The knowledge you gain by staying up all night cramming may be eclipsed by your inability to do anything the next day. If you start your studying a few days earlier, the night before won’t seem so frightening.

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