askastudent top fan shooketh to the core

hi Aska,

Hey, iz me, the most frequent inquirer (am i really though) of all time lol. Whereas my other questions have been ESSAYS (i am so so sorry for that btw), this one will be fairly short–approximately the length of an intro paragraph in an essay haha.

I’m entering my last year and a half to complete my undergrad (woohoo!) , but i am shooketh to the core from the idea of taking a 4th year course in the next year, which i must do for my programs. i am so terribly afraid of speaking in class, Aska. PETRIFIED. i have horrible anxiety when it comes to these things and i do horrendous in tutorials because of this. But since i am an English and History Major, these courses will most likely be seminars full of smarticle-particle students talking in the fanciest, most intellectual way possible, getting super high participation marks (…yay), and my ass just sitting there looking dazed and confused (not like the movie, but that would honestly be better lol)– aka my version of a horror movie.

Am i wrong about this scenario? Are 4th year courses in my field really that horrific? If so, how can i conquer them?

pls send help. thank you.


hello hello,

this seems like a perfectly normal fear to have– i know plenty of people who detest speaking in class. i also know people who speak more than they probably should. it’s a spectrum, people. personally, i’m a weird combination of both– i hate participating, but if it’s being factored into my grade you best believe my hand is shooting up every class.

i feel like most seminars probably have at least a few of the absolutely terrifying intellectual™ keeners, for sure. i try not to let them get under my skin, but they INTIMIDATE me. and then everything i say sounds dumb. so i totally feel you.

while i’ve never taken a fourth year course in your field, rest assured that if everyone in your program has to take a fourth-year seminar to get through, then you probably won’t the only one who doesn’t particularly like this kinda class. there will be others.

there are a few ways to make seminars less gross. one of them is to try and get to know the students around you– it’s always easier to talk when you feel like you’re surrounded by actual people as opposed to being blindly intimidated by everyone. the more comfortable you are with your fellow students, the more class might start to feel like a discussion rather than a competition. you are friend, not food.

you can also keep in mind that the other kids in your class, no matter how smart they might sound, probably have insecurities too. they might overthink everything they say before they say it, or kick themselves for something that sounded stupid but no one else even noticed. there’s something called the spotlight effect, which is basically the idea that you’re more likely to notice your own mistakes than others are.

for me, something that helps is also to jot down quick notes about the comments i want to make before i make them. as soon as i’m called on, everything in my brain scatters and it’s reassuring for me to have that sort of backup.

i also try to set small goals for myself– speak at least twice a class, or something. the more used you get to talking, the easier it will be. my throat tends to close up if it’s been a few classes and i haven’t yet said anything– the longer i spend quiet, the more the anxiety gets to me and the harder it is to speak.

other than that, i’d just advise that you come prepared to class! it’s always easier to offer insightful or quality comments when you’re familiar with the material. don’t think too much about how fancy your language is when you talk, or anything– it’s the content that matters.

i know that despite whatever advice i might offer you, it’ll probably still feel like a rough class if you’re anxious about speaking. but you got this. it’s just a semester or two. and hopefully you’ll learn from it– become more comfortable with engaging in discussions and stuff!

in other news– lol, i wish i could hand out top fan badges like facebook does. not that i ever claim my own. no one needs to know how much i love hummus memes.

GOOD LUCK with the fourth year seminar! hope these tips helped and conquer away.

be Boundless,


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