How to Make Through a Tough College Course


Some courses in college are very challenging and may leave you feeling defeated. It can be especially difficult if you’ve always made good grades with little effort. College is a huge step up from high school, and upper level classes can be much more difficult than lower level ones. As a result, students often drop out or change their majors due to a hard class. If you’re having a rough time in a college class, don’t make any hasty decisions. Instead, follow some important guidelines that have helped many successful college students.

Don’t Miss Class

It may seem obvious that going to class is important for academic success, but many students don’t think missing classes will hurt their grades. Maybe they figure the class will be easy, or the same information in class can be found in the book or online. However, many times teachers cover topics in class that aren’t found elsewhere. They may also explain concepts in a way that helps students better understand than a book or notes could. If you want to make it through a tough course, go to class every time. If you have to miss, have a friend take notes.

Go to Office Hours

Most students never go to office hours. In some cases, it may be that they are too busy. But in most cases students simply don’t want to bother. If you’re struggling in class, go to office hours as soon as possible. Visiting the professor at the end of the semester to ask for extra credit or a grade change just makes you look lazy and entitled. Instead, visit during office hours (or set up an appointment with the teacher) as soon as you encounter a problem. The instructor will see that you are motivated to do well and is more likely to help you make the best grade possible.

Start a Study Group

Study groups can prove invaluable for college students. Not only can you commiserate with fellow students going through the same challenges, but you get different perspectives on the lessons that may help you better understand certain topics. You can quiz each other, tutor each other, and compare notes. Be sure you pick motivated people for your study group or you’ll just be wasting your time.

Make a Study Schedule

Schedules are important in college, because there aren’t set study times and you’ll probably need to put more time into each class than you did in grade school. The general rule for studying is three hours of study for every hour of class time. However, this may vary depending on the difficulty of the course. Give yourself plenty of time to study and find a quiet place to work. In addition to blocking out time to study for your class, make it a habit to review your notes right after class to help reinforce what you’ve learned.

For more college advice, read How to Win at College.