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How To Survive a Class You Can’t Stand

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

A pair of hands hold up a yellow sign that has an angry face on it. A brick wall is in the background.

When you start college, you’ll find yourself with much more freedom than you had during high school. You’ll have more room for electives, and the classes that you are required to take are more tailored to your interests and major.

Still, it seems that all of us inevitably end up in a class that we dread going to or doing the work for.

Due to professors we do not get along with, boring lectures, unreasonably difficult exams or assignments, or content we really do not enjoy, some classes simply won’t be good fits.

Here are a few handy tips I have for those going through this:

Use Your Resources

One main factor that may cause us to dislike a class is that we are struggling. Fortunately, every university has something to offer in the way of help to struggling students.

At my school, we have a tutoring center for many STEM classes that are known to cause difficulty for students. Several study sessions a week are offered that are run by qualified students who have already taken the class or are skilled in the subject area.

In addition, office hours with your professors and TAs are helpful if you need more individualized attention outside of lectures or if you have specific questions that need answered. This may not always be an option for every class, though.

More niche subjects, such as those beyond intro courses, are not taken by as many students, so major tutoring sessions can be harder to come by. In this case, you are still not alone!

Student-led study groups got me through my first year of college. We typically gathered weekly to work out problem sets together or discuss difficult concepts, which is beneficial to everyone in the group to better their understanding of the material.

Note that some classes may have policies that limit collaboration, so check on that with the professor and on the syllabus to ensure you are not violating academic integrity policies.

However, most classes encourage a degree of general collaboration, and study groups are a great way to not only further comprehend material but also make some friends. Study groups make the classwork a bit more enjoyable.

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Drop the Class!

This is not exactly a hint to help get through the class, but honestly, if a class is physically or mentally draining to you, consider dropping it.

If your class is an elective course that you thought you’d enjoy more than you do, this is an especially good option. You won’t have any real consequences to dropping a course if you do not actually need it to graduate.

Your mental health is important and should never be sacrificed for the sake of stubbornly getting through a class that is negatively affecting you.

The same goes for your physical health. If you find yourself losing significant amounts of sleep or time for meals just to complete a class you do not even enjoy, dropping it is wise.

There is no shame in changing your mind or even being wrong. Many people get to midterms or other big exams and realize their GPA will suffer from a tough course and choose to drop it then, too.

Dropping classes is common, even if people don’t talk about it as much. It should be a consideration if you find yourself in a course that you just can’t stand.

If it is a requirement, dropping it for this semester can still be an option that might be beneficial. Sometimes, the current semester is not a good time to put yourself through the stress of the class, or you will be better equipped for it in the future after taking additional related classes.

If you decide to drop a required class, be sure to carefully plan out future semesters and talk to your advisors before doing so so you are not struggling to fulfill a requirement in the future.

Keep Up With Your Work

If you really must take the class, be sure you are still getting work done for it. Things are going to be much more difficult if you put off all your assignments and studying and have to cram to get things done on time. This is even worse for your mental health.

When I was taking the class I enjoyed the least this past year, my biggest problems with the class were more administrative.

I did not like the way the class was being run, and I did not like the professors. I felt many aspects of this intro course were unfair and most people I talked to had similar complaints.

For me, circumstances like this make me feel like I should stubbornly not complete the work for this class. Of course, that is not a reasonable solution. The only person who this would be detrimental to is myself.

Instead, I had to continue going through the motions and performing to the best of my abilities in the class. This meant getting my assignments in on time, going to lectures and labs, and taking plenty of time to study before my exams, even though I would have rather just forgotten I was in the course altogether.

I ended up doing okay, which is good enough! If you are struggling or having a hard time motivating yourself, keep up to the best of your abilities so you still make it through the class.

Don’t feel like you have to dedicate so much of yourself to something you do not enjoy that it will be bad for your health.

Once you finish with the class, congratulate yourself and be proud that you made it through something challenging, and get your frustrations out with a scathingly honest course review.

        

Having to take a class that you feel you simply can’t deal with is a painful experience that most of us will go through at some point.

It will probably lead to a long and difficult semester, but there are ways to ensure it goes as well as possible. Remember that there is no shame in dropping a course at any point in the semester, even if it feels too late.

If that is not an option for you, then treat it like you would any other class by doing as much work as you can reasonably handle for it without burning out, and seek help to try to better understand the material so you can make it through with the least amount of suffering possible.

No matter what, you should choose to handle it in the way that will lead to the greatest amount of success for you, and whatever that looks like, be proud of yourself for handling this tough situation in a way that is right for you.

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Author: Heidi Temple

I am a first-generation student at Princeton University. I am currently planning to concentrate in Molecular Biology there. Then, I plan to go to grad school and eventually pursue a career in medical research.