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Top 10 best phrases to hear in class

A list of expressions that do not make me want to scream in the middle of class

<p>Elizabeth Parsons is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Elizabeth Parsons is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.

Last semester, I compiled a list of the top 10 worst phrases to hear in class. In the name of positivity, I decided to take the opposite approach this semester — curating a list of phrases that I love to hear during class. Here’s to hoping that you encounter at least one of these moments this spring.

1. “We’re going to end early today.” 

Hearing these words uttered — especially on a day where getting to class felt like an insurmountable feat — elicits an indescribable feeling of joy. Knowing that my 75-minute class will not run for the full time makes me feel like I can conquer anything. Suddenly, I am scribbling down my notes with extra gusto and dreaming of all the things I will do with the extra minutes gifted to me. With just six words said by my professor, I now have extra time to grab a latte before my next class, and my day is infinitely better because of it.

2. “Don’t worry — I haven’t started the paper either.” 

They say that misery loves company, and this is certainly the case in any classroom. With a looming paper deadline, the status of everyone’s paper quickly becomes a popular topic of conversation. Nothing feels more comforting than hearing that a fellow classmate is in the same boat as you — staring at a blank Google document and praying a spark of equal parts inspiration and motivation will come. 

3. “I am so behind on the readings.” 

The healing power of struggling en masse strikes again. Hearing that your friends also have not made their way through 200 pages of reading for that week is a relief — and a confirmation that your workload truly is heavy. I often find myself worrying that I am the only one who feels like they are just trying to make it through the day, so creating a sense of solidarity with my classmates makes my struggle feel more bearable.

4. “I made a mistake on the syllabus.”

Even better than hearing that fellow students are also behind on those 200 pages of reading is finding out that said 200 pages were a syllabus mistake. I recently experienced this pleasure in my Modern and Contemporary Literature seminar. As I was sitting down to make my way through roughly 150 pages of our current novel, I received an email correcting the number of pages to read — which was only around 50 pages. I really felt like the luckiest person in the world. 

5. “What an insightful point!”

Contributing my thoughts in class can make me feel anxious. Fearing criticism from both my professors and peers, I sometimes find it easier to stay quiet. While this is something I am always working to improve, receiving positive feedback from my professor — or someone in class offering a thought based on my comment — makes me feel so happy. It really is true that a kind word can go a long way, making it easier to contribute to the discussion the next time. 

6. “I am extending the paper deadline.” 

Is it obvious that I am always facing a mountain of papers? A professor announcing a classwide extension on a paper deadline is even better than hearing that your classmates are equally as behind on the assignment. A deadline extension is few and far between, which makes this announcement extra special. I can instantly breathe easier knowing I have a few more days to stare at the aforementioned blank Google document before I have to officially pull it together and start typing. 

7. “Is anyone sitting here?”

Everyone needs a class buddy, but finding one takes effort. When a brave soul takes the initiative to strike up a conversation and sit with you, going to class becomes so much more fun. Not only do you have someone to study with, but you also have a new friend. Getting to see a friendly face in class always makes me more excited to arrive to class early so I can catch up with them. 

8. “Not to completely go on a tangent, but …”

It is so funny that professors feel the need to apologize for going on a tangent when it is certainly more interesting than the current content at hand — and provides a much needed brain break. My favorite form of a tangent includes sharing personal stories and anecdotes. Please, I want to know about your ex-wife. Yes, I want to see photos of the dog you just adopted. And by all means — I want to hear about what you did this past weekend. Understanding your professor as a human being that exists beyond the world of academia is thrilling — and provides a break from trying to listen attentively to the lecture while simultaneously taking notes. 

9. “Here’s what to expect on the exam…”

These words are music to my ears. I have been blindsided on too many exams, so I rejoice at the opportunity to gain any information about what to expect on a midterm or final. I don’t even need specific details — any and all information is beyond welcome. Professors who give some insight about the content and format of an exam deserve a shoutout. Thank you for giving students a fighting chance at succeeding on something worth upwards of 25 percent of their final grade. 

10. “Let’s hear from those who haven’t had a chance to jump in yet.”

When said in a non-passive aggressive manner, this statement is a boost for those of us who find class discussions both overwhelming and frustrating — especially when a participation grade is on the line. It always seems like as soon as I am about to share an idea, the discussion takes a complete shift. Hearing this often gives me the confidence to jump in, and it feels nice to know that your professor notices that conversation dynamics can be dominated by one or two big voices.


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