Top five ways to get through classes you hate

September 15, 2011 by LendKey Staff


“Oh, here we go again. How do I figure this out?” Sam thought about how miserable he felt when dealing with quadratic equations. He’s looking at the example and trying to wrap his mind around it, but when test time comes, he feels like he is missing steps.

Meanwhile in a different building at the same University, Melissa is drawing a blank on the following Western Civilization question:

Using three separate examples, compare and contrast the differences of ancient Athens and Sparta considering their cultural, martial, governmental and economic circumstances:

Melissa gave it some thought but all that came to mind was…

Neither Sam nor Melissa exactly enjoyed the experience of feeling academically substandard, but here they were in the throes of a learning experience and they are barely holding on. Unknown to them now, the process of learning can be a sloppy, error laden, confidence rattling and stressful process affecting different people in different ways. It turns out that learning is actually very hard and requires a great deal of focus and patience, two things that are not always on the top of the list of excellent traits found in every college student.

Real learning is hard work, and college level courses are meant to expose students to more advanced curriculum. The theory is that by taking on greater academic challenges, the student’s capacity to learn grows accordingly. It takes a good attitude and a healthy open mind to really soak in the college experience, but even the best students can find themselves in a quagmire; they simply do not like the class they are in, and dread the thought of an entire semester spent learning about something they don’t care about.

Before you begin to quietly curse out a particular teacher under your breath, take a moment to think about why you came to college in the first place; to learn something.

Give yourself a “check up from the neck up” and empower yourself to get through your most challenging classes with some helpful ideas.

Become intellectually curious:

Are you learning for learning’s sake, exploring new ideas and concepts, staying interested in subjects, and finding ways to relate a new idea to your current knowledge base? These are hallmark signs that you are intellectually curious. This character trait can be developed in college and will add lifetime benefits. Staying intellectually curious through one’s life will help to maintain the mental flexibility required to adapt in a changing job market and can help in locating new opportunities. So don’t waste any time. Learn to become intellectually curious by engaging in classes that at first sight may make you cringe. You may not be the best mathematician, but that should not stop you from trying to learn math as best you can. Writing English papers may not be your strength, but it’s worth learning how to improve writing ability. Being intellectually curious is not about being “smart”, it’s about finding the will to turn to the next page of that textbook in the hope that you will find the seed of knowledge that grows for a lifetime.

Learn how YOU learn:

Did you know that each person has their own individual learning style? There are variations of the way people learn based on how receptive their particular senses are and they way thoughts are remembered. Here is a rundown on learning styles, take a look and consider what kind of learner you are.

    • Visual learners: Usually like drawings and diagrams, or watching demonstrations. They are most stimulated by their sense of sight. Seeing is believing!
    • Auditory learners: Must be able to hear what they are learning to remember. May read a book aloud to hear their own voice to reinforce memory. Learn well through collaboration in small, verbally communicative groups.
    • Read-Write learners: Prefer written forms of communication. Like reading and writing to help learn and remember material. They tend to like multiple choice exams the best.
    • Kinesthetic learners: Need physical engagement to reinforce learning experiences. Needs hands on demonstrations where they can get into the work themselves. Mind-body connection means learning happens while the body is in motion. Can be the most fidgety people in a traditional classroom environment.

Once you figure out the kind of learning style you most often employ, you can take steps to enhance the classroom experience by learning and studying in a way you know you will remember. This can be an exhaustive trial and error process for some people, but it is worth it. A class that you find particularly challenging may be due to a clash between your personal learning style and the teachers delivery of the content. Take the time to adapt yourself and identify how you could best learn the material. In doing so you learn as much about yourself as you would about the subject, a great achievement in itself even if the grade received is less than stellar. Once you know what kind of learner you are, you can more readily adapt to classes you originally thought were impossible, and empower yourself to become a better learner outside the classroom and beyond.

Appreciate your Professor and the class, flaws and all:

Before you close the book on a professor for being too old, young, ugly, annoying, verbose, weird or something you do not like, allow yourself to get to know the whole experience of class. Shutting off a professor early in a semester is detrimental to the learning process, and can make classroom situations more painful than they already are. Instead of thinking about all the things you do not like, find something you do like about the professor. If they are an older professor, they probably have a wealth of experience they can readily share. If they are young, they probably have a refreshing perspective on the material. If they are ugly, maybe they are also hilariously funny, who knows. The point is that if you are going to spend some 15 weeks with this Prof, it would be an improved experience if you focused on even the smallest of things you do appreciate rather than negative aspects that remind you of how miserable this experience could be. That being said, not all professors are great and some of them can be a real drag. Just don’t let your personal feelings towards a professor get in the way of your academic performance and stay positive. You will find that outside the classroom, in work situations, you will not necessarily like or get along with the people around you, but you find ways of dealing with them cordially and appreciate what good they can provide. Develop this understanding during your most challenging classes and you become a more well rounded person.

Make friends in class:

You may be miserable in a class while the person sitting next to you is in heaven. It’s amazing how people will react differently to the same classroom environment. If you are having a hard time, identify the students in class that are having the exact opposite experience. You will notice that they are probably pumped up about being there, raising their hand and getting involved in class. Or perhaps they are very quiet, astute and on top of all of the material. Whatever their learning style is, try to tap into what they know. Put together a study group in your class to meet up and review assignments. See how many students you can pull into the group that are more knowledgeable about the subject than you. All of a sudden, you have access to people that can help to improve your learning experience while simultaneously flexing your social skills and making new friends. Suddenly a terrible class is electrified with learning energy!

You are paying for this so get the most of it:

As we know, college is expensive. Even if you receive a lot of scholarship and financial aid, it just means the costs have been shifted to someone else. With everything on the line, with the economy in a mess, with people literally starving, would you be the student that would stick to a bad attitude and reject the real learning opportunities found in every class? I would hope not because it is such a waste to let these moments pass without learning. You are given an opportunity to mentally expand, so get to it and recognize that every class has a chance to change your mind and change your life if you are willing to change yourself for the better.

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  • Student

    This was really helpful and inspiring thank you. It is just what I needed

  • Dim Wat Dan

    Oh My. Oh My. What a Big Head you have!
    I hate this class. Always have, Always will!
    I’m tired. Ohhh Myyy Goshh!!! YESSSS! It’s almost time to get out of here! I’m Loved!
    Still dying in the time that it takes before I get to leave!
    Dim Wat Dan needs someone to save her!
    -Dim Wat Dan. :)

  • http://idk Hunter

    i hate the class im in

  • Dim Wat Dan


  • Jamie

    Really helped me out, thanks!