Managing My Reading-Intense Concentration

March 21, 2021
Fedjine Mitchelle Victor

As an African American Studies (AAS) concentrator, I often find myself diving into a bunch of rich literature I adore. My concentration is reading intensive. That means, unlike some STEM courses that may be centered around labs or problem sets, AAS is more about reading many sources or chapters to make connections and discuss! Nonetheless, seeing those 30-50 pages of reading for Monday doesn’t get any less daunting. Here are the ways that I approach my reading load. 

  1. List them by due date, class and quantity: Being organized helps me know which readings I need to get ahead of and how much I am anticipating per day. 
  2. Pick the readings I find most interesting: Although the assignment is more than expected or may have a later due date, I find that I can knock out the readings I think are most interesting quickly and then focus my attention on assignments with the most immediate due dates. 
  3. Split up 50 pages into 25 and 25: I would read the first half one day and the second half another or I would read in the morning and then the evening. This gives me the feeling of reading less and not just staring into the sea of words for hours and hours. 
  4. Read the assignments with fewer pages earlier: Tackling my readings with less pages first helps to get them out the way. 
  5. Multitask: I like to save videos or podcasts for dinner or while I'm doing something passive like cleaning around the house. 
  6. Start reading a few pages sooner rather than later: The thing about reading heavy classes is that you spend a lot of time outside of the classroom, you guessed it, reading. So just starting when you have a few free minutes can make a world of a difference.
  7. Don’t worry about getting to everything: A common myth about reading heavy classes is that you need to read and understand everything. In my opinion, reading 30 out of the 50 pages while making connections and getting a clear understanding can be more fruitful during class discussions than reading all 50 pages and not understanding anything.

I prefer my reading-intensive concentration because I find myself very attuned to the power that books hold and the ways that they are essential to my knowledge! With reading, you’re not really looking for a particular answer. Your responses are shaped by your personal perspective and the same text can be read in so many different ways. When picking a concentration, I would suggest looking into what the workload would look like and ask questions such as “How much time would you spend a week reading for class or preparing the material?” Understanding if you’re not a big reader, like me, or need time to wrap your head around readings can be helpful to gauge your interest in a department.