If you’re planning on taking any science-related courses in college, you’re likely to encounter a lab. If you’re not familiar with labs, they can be intimidating. We’re hoping this blog will help you feel more prepared to take – and succeed in – college labs.
How are Labs Different from Lectures?
You already know that college labs are going to be different from a lecture format.
Labs are more hands on and usually involve a lot more student involvement than a lecture. If you find it difficult to learn in a lecture, you may enjoy lab classes. Labs are more involved and can make learning easier since you get to see the concepts at work.
While we, of course, suggest getting to all your classes on time, it’s especially important to get to your labs on time. While it may be easy to sneak in the back of your lecture, you could miss important details about the experiment or not be able to catch up if you are late to the lab. Double check those alarms before you go to bed!
What are the Safety Procedures?
While you’re in a lab, there will be some safety procedures that your faculty members will cover with you. Often, you will take a test on these procedures to make sure you understand them.
Your professor will give you specific rules and go over the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) criteria with you. In most labs, you will wear closed-toed shoes and pants for your safety while handling dangerous materials.
You also cannot bring food or drink to the lab. This rule keeps your snacks from getting in the experiment – and you from eating something harmful!
What do You do in a College Lab?
What exactly you do in a college lab will depend a lot on the course.
In some classes, you may do chemical tests, diffusion experiments, dissections, microscope studies of slides, or the study of anatomical models. In a Physical Therapy or Nursing lab, you will have tables set up like they would be in a clinic so you can get used to the equipment and tests you’ll be using every day. Read over your course’s description to get a better idea of what your particular lab will be covering.
Regardless of which course you’re taking, you’ll learn how to use basic lab equipment, like microscopes. You’ll also learn to follow and act on instructions and gain valuable hands-on experience.
Why are Labs so Important?
While lectures are fantastic for laying down the groundwork for a subject, the hands-on experience you gain in a lab is crucial. It can be easy to memorize lecture material, but it can take working on an experiment or dissection to “get” the concepts.
A college lab gives you the opportunity to solve problems and conduct experiments with real-life applications. Putting your knowledge into practical action is vital for anyone considering a career in a science!
You also learn to work in a team, which is a valuable skill for the work environment.
How do I Succeed in College Labs?
Keeping an open mind and asking questions is important throughout your college career. That applies to college labs too! Make sure you continue to practice and keep trying – it’s normal to not grasp something perfectly the first time you encounter it. Practicing in the lab will help make sense of all the new information you’re learning in your courses.
Make sure to participate; don’t be that person who doesn’t do anything in the group project!
Being inquisitive, engaged, and focused on what you’re doing will help you on the road to success. Never be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand an instruction or want to know how you can improve!