Guide To Kicking Butt In Your Toughest Courses

Passing A Difficult Course

I’m sure every college student reading this blog has heard the horror stories of some last year college courses. Every college program has the one or few courses that are so difficult that they basically act as a filtering system. We have all heard the depressing rumors:

“4th year Organic Chemistry has a 50% failure rate.”

Or better yet, “the professor never gives anyone an A in that course.”

I’m also positive that every financial stud reading Studenomics cares about money. Retaking a college course because you failed or because you want to improve your grade, will cost you hundreds of dollars. Why not pass the course the first time around? Why not get the desired grade the first time?

I wanted to share some tips to help you kick butt in your most difficult courses in college!

Read the material the first time as if it were a novel

The first time I go over the material the goal is not to try to figure everything out right away. The goal is to skim through the content so that you know what to expect. It will become information overload if you actually expert to absorb all of the content on your first reading of the material.

Come to class prepared

Drink your coffee.

Eat a meal.

Get enough sleep.

Do whatever it takes to come to the class prepared.

Sit in the front of the class

When you sit at the back of the class you are more susceptible to start talking with someone. At the front of the class you can’t get away with that. I know nobody wants to sit at the front of the class but it can be very beneficial in your difficult courses.

Leave the distractions behind

I know that I’m that fool that brings his laptop to class to write blog entries. If you have a difficult course you must be distraction free! No iphone, no laptop, no blackberry, no head phones, no sitting next to the cute girl in class.

Set a daily goal

My daily goal is to look at the course material for at least one hour a day. In that one hour I try to go over difficult past midterm problems and see how promptly I can solve them. This may seem excessive but there’s a reason that the 4th year course has the highest failure rate. What will your daily goal be?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Yes I’m that pain that annoys the professor by sending him emails. So what? I pay for my education and if I come across a question that I can’t possibly answer then I email to professor for help. Some professors will get upset. Others will appreciate your effort and take note. You benefit by obtaining the help you need.

Go over the most difficult possible problems before the exam

You know the exam isn’t going to be easy. Prepare yourself by going over the most difficult problems from the textbook or from past exams. I figure I would rather scramble my mind trying to figure out how to answer that impossible finance question before the actual exam when it counts.

photo: claudiogennari

3 thoughts on “Guide To Kicking Butt In Your Toughest Courses”

  1. Thanks for the great insights! Time to share mine.

    I wish I applied these tips to more of courses. Unfortunately I have only applied it to my most difficult courses.

    As for college grades. I honestly think it all depends on what you plan on doing post-graduation. Not all of us want to work for Google. Some of us want to take the acquired knowledge and venture off on our own.

    I do believe that the job landscape has become so competitive that you do need to earn higher grades. With that being said it is also important to have some good experience and amazing networking skills. I believe that you will go a lot further with decent grades and amazing networking skills than you would with just really high grades.

    What do you guys think?

  2. Great advice on sitting in front. I got to class a little late one day and sat towards the back. Not only was it harder to hear the professor but I had to deal with all the whisperings of the students in the back. Another benefit of sitting in the front is the professor sees you every class. Come grade time the professor may remember that you were there up front paying attention the entire semester. Sometimes showing up can help your grade.

    Also ask questions in class. A professor told our class that when you ask questions you are molding the course to your needs. Also, professors love participation (usually).

  3. I think the biggest thing in doing well in any class (whether it is hard or easy) is being a pro-active student. You have to treat college as an investment in yourself and it took me a few years after graduating to understand the concept. You do not realize the money you have to pay back until the bills are coming in 6 months after graduating.

    Many look at college as being a fun time and then relax on the books, which is exactly what I did. While I am happy where I am now, I do regret doing better in college, regardless of whether the class was hard or not.

    They key to doing well in any class is simple: Go there and pay attention. If you understand the concepts in class, you will pick up the material when working on it outside of class. Hindsight is always 20/20 and 3.5 years later it continues to become even clearer.

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