What is a College Seminar?

During college, you may encounter a specific type of course format: the seminar. College seminar courses are typically small, and are generally led by a professor. They are often higher-level classes that focus on a specialized subject area in a given major or minor. Students are expected to participate regularly in college seminars, including giving presentations and participating in discussions.

There are many ways that students can succeed in a college seminar course, including emphasizing their participation, remaining distraction-free, and actively listening during class sessions. Keep reading to learn more about college seminars:

Which majors rely on college seminar courses?

Any major can offer a seminar course, but some specializations lend themselves more readily to this format. Others may lean toward classes that utilize lectures. You may encounter a seminar in:

  • A language course

  • A literature course

  • A philosophy course

  • And others.

Higher-level courses are often focused on discussion and investigation, rather than simple mastery of information and skills. In such instances, a seminar class is particularly useful.

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How to succeed in a college seminar

If you’re used to lecture courses, or if you’re a little shy, you might feel intimidated by a seminar class. But you shouldn’t be—anyone is capable of succeeding in a college seminar. Here are some tips for success:

Focus on your participation in your college seminar

In most cases, professors in seminars are looking less for “right” answers, and more for genuine engagement. Professors’ participation grades may be among the most highly weighted grades you’ll receive in a college seminar. So, focus on completing your assignments on time and being prepared for class so you can contribute to conversations in a meaningful way.

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Put any distractions away during your college seminar

This means silencing your smartphone and putting it in your bag. Ensure social media websites and messaging apps are not open on your laptop or tablet. Because seminar class sizes are small, your professor will most certainly notice if you’re not paying attention—and he or she will not hesitate to dock points from your final grade.

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Listen to others while in your college seminar

A conversation is all about give and take. This holds especially true in seminar courses, where you’ll be having lots of conversations with the people around you for the entire semester. It’s easy to talk a lot during a college seminar, and less easy to listen to others. Try to balance your speaking with listening. Hearing others’ input will help you shape your thoughts and opinions more cohesively so you can more meaningfully contribute to the conversation.


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