Why Professors Should Be OK With Letting Class Out Early

Hey man, you know how sometimes professors will get done with a lecture a few minutes early and then say something stupid like, “What else can I talk about to fill the lecture time?” It’s stupid, right? It’s at that time the professor should say, “Hey, we’re done. You get to go early. See you next week; try not to crash into too many trees this weekend.” Professors that do this are awesome. Seriously.

However, some professors think that they absolutely have to use the entire lecture time to teach – even if they get done early or aren’t prepared. In my opinion, this is dumb and doesn’t need to happen. Why? Well, let me break it down for you.

We’re paying for a degree and an education – we’re not necessarily paying for gross time sitting at a desk. If a professor can effectively teach all the material he needs to teach in 40 minutes instead of 50, he shouldn’t feel that he needs to fill that last 10 with something just to “use all the time”. Students love getting out early from time to time; it’s a moral boost. Besides, who ever said 50 minutes was the most effective amount of time for teaching, anyway? It could very well be 45, or 40, or 63. The 50 minute period was an arbitrary choice made for scheduling reasons, and as such is a blanket time period that might not apply to every situation. There are times when the material that needs to be presented will fit into a smaller time period, and going onto a new subject afterward would make the lecture feel disjointed and waste everyone’s time.

Besides, most professors aren’t teaching effectively anyway. Look at brain science, fool. Research shows that people generally can focus on one concept for about 10 minutes; after that, they zonk out (check out chapter 4 of Brain Rules if you don’t believe me). They need some sort of refresher to get back into the game – a break every ten minutes brought about by something emotional, funny, but still contextually relevant to the class. Most professors don’t realize this, and they ramble on for the whole 50 or 70 minutes while students sit there bored out of their minds. Therefore, getting out a few minutes early is almost certain to not result in a loss of learning time. It’s just a loss of time spent bored.

Ten Minute Rule

The infamous Ten Minute Rule.

It turns out I’m not the only one who wants to get out of class early when professors finish their intended lecture. In the interest of doing good science, I went out and conducted some thorough, methodical, and unbiased research in the field to find out the opinions of other students. I asked this leading question: “When you professors let you out of class early, is it…” and let them finish by choosing an answer or making their own. Of those surveyed, 52% responded by saying it’s “an indication that the professor is teaching effectively instead of just filling time”. 29% surveyed responded that it’s either “awesome” or “really freakin’ awesome”, and a final 17% answered that it’s “poopin’ time”. Not a single respondent claimed that being let out of class early constituted a “waste of their tuition dollars”, even though this answer was clearly displayed.

Poopin Time

Empirical data, punk.

So let’s recap: getting let out of class early is perfectly acceptable for the following reasons:

  • The 50 or 70 minute class period is arbitrary and doesn’t necessarily need to be followed for optimum learning.
  • Students are probably zonking out at the 10-minute mark anyway unless the professor is effective at transitioning .
  • I did research which totally proves it.

There you have it: a comprehensive and indisputable argument for getting out of class early. Anytime you need to get out early to grab some food, take a poop, or save yourself from untimely boredom-induced coma, just pull up this article. Your professor won’t be able to argue with you at all. You’re welcome.

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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