Without fail, there is at least one constant in college. No matter which university you attend, whatever major you choose, or whomever your professor may be.

Textbooks are required.

I am here to tell you that reading those books are essential for learning! Please do not misunderstand me, I do not believe that textbooks are the only form of learning – far from it! However, I do believe that they are the foundation of learning for college students.

But I learn better by listening.

The whole point of a textbook is to provide a standardized formal understanding of a subject. It will give you the metaphorical ground to stand on as you begin journeying through your classes. No one expects you to understand something you don’t know anything about. Textbooks act as your introduction to a subject or perhaps a new theory within a field.

You may be thinking, “Sure, but another constant is that I have a professor who will do all of this for me. Why would I read when it’s their job to help me understand?”

Well, in a way, you are right. It is their job to help you understand, but understanding implies that you already have a base knowledge. Professors are not hired to be a live version of an audiobook nor are they the Spark Notes to your college education. They are hired to help make the information in the textbook come alive, provide context, and give you resources to further your knowledge/experience in the subject.

Read your textbooks!

No time?

If you are anything like me, then you may see the merit in reading, but you may feel you simply don’t have the time to read. By next class, you may have 40 pages due. How are you going to read those by the start of class?

Well, first things first, do you even know how many pages you have before next class? Preparing is the most essential piece to this. If you know how many pages are due then you can read the first couple pages and discover how many minutes it takes you to finish each page. Using the average time, divide how many days you have to read until next class and, boom baby! You have broken it up into easy, simple, bite-sized pieces. It will almost feel too easy.

Before you know it, you will have read the whole entire textbook. Many people in graduate school read even on days they are not required to. Creating this routine in your week will make it easier and easier. Your body will literally be craving to read! Weird, right?

But it’s boring . . .

Some of you fall asleep while you are reading. I am no stranger to those narcoleptic tendencies. One strategy that I want you to try is active reading. This is a way in which you can personalize the information that you are reading so it’s relevant to your real life. This will help you figure out what matters to you and what you can honestly just skip over. Yes, you are allowed to do skim.

Something people struggle with a lot is the concept of not fully understanding something before they get into class. Remember, reading comes first, and the professor is supplementary. If you do not understand something, that is what the professor is for. He/she can guide you to the understanding you are looking for and they can help you personalize it to the major and area of study you care about.

Don’t forget that most majors are intertwined on some level. This also means that when you are reading, you need to read correctly. Reading the chapter from the first page to last page without a map is like trying to navigate an ocean without a map nor a compass. Sure, some early explorers did that, but you don’t have to. The headings and subheadings are there to guide you through the book. If you know what you’re supposed to be reading about, you can anticipate what you come across. This will make it easier to organize how you approach the text.

Hopefully, this will help you pay attention and avoid drool stains on your textbooks. I would also like to remind you that the author of your textbook is a real person, someone who created this book in order to help you learn about the things that matter in this field. Let them guide you.

Impress your professor.

Frankly, if you read the chapter, your professor will just like you better. Have you ever been passionate about something before and then talk to a room of clueless zombies? It is way more interesting to a professor if they have a class full of students who have opinions and a basic knowledge of the material.  This also means that they won’t have to spend so much time lecturing about the subject. Do everyone a favor and start an exhilarating class discussion.

For the love of others…

If anything, please read your textbooks for the people that your field will affect. As someone who is going into the counseling field, one of my largest fears is that I will not be worthy of the profession that I am entering into. If I do not read, do not actually learn the material, and only put in the bare minimum, then my clients and my profession will suffer for it. I cannot bear the weight of that.

Your responsibility is great: according to 100people.org, only about 7%  of people in the world have a bachelor’s degree. Do not use this information to think you are better than anyone else. It simply means that you have a responsibility only few others in the world will shoulder.

What will you do with such responsibility? How will you handle the weight of the field you will step into? Please be a good steward of the opportunity you have been given. For the love of others, read your textbooks.

UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!