7 Tips to Conquer a Difficult Class

Is the pressure mounting? Do you feel like you’re falling behind in a challenge class? Or, maybe you’re already dreading a difficult course next semester?

Don’t panic.

It might feel impossible, but you still have time to catch up and regain your confidence.

Check out our top tips on how you can get back to the head of the class, without sacrificing your sleep or social life (or sanity).


Put it in your planner.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in a certain class, you might be tempted to procrastinate on studying the subject. But avoiding the inevitable is one of the worst things you can do. The only way to get back on track with a difficult class is to prioritize it over all your other courses. Schedule time every day to study and work homework problems, and — unless it’s a true emergency — don’t let anything else get in the way.


Get to know your professor (and make sure they know you).

Many students view visiting a professor’s office hours as a last resort, but it’s actually one of the best resources at your disposal. Extra time with your professor gives you the chance get your toughest questions answered, and it also shows your professor you’re committed to learning the material. Attending office hours may be intimidating at first, but keep in mind that your professors want you to succeed, and they’re willing to take time out to help you.


Show up.

We know — skipping class can be tempting, especially if you feel like you’re already behind. Even if the lectures feel like they’re going over your head, you still gain a ton by attending class. Good attendance will demonstrate to your professor that you’re committed to succeeding, and it’ll give you a chance to meet other students, aka potential study buddies. And showing up is great, but participating is even better. Take notes, ask questions and give yourself the opportunity for the material to eventually click.


Start now.

We know you. You’re a researcher, right? You’ve totally read up on all the courses required for your degree plan, and you might have a notoriously difficult course next semester. The good news? You’re already ahead of the game. Plan to get a head start this summer so that come August you won’t feel completely overwhelmed. That doesn’t mean you have to spend the next few months reading the entire textbook, but you could start reviewing the first chapters and attempt some of the homework problems. You’ll feel a lot less anxious about the course if you’re familiar with some of the material by the first day of class.


You’re all in this together.

While studying on your own or with a tutor is usually the most productive option, study groups can also be helpful when done right. The key is to make sure everyone stays productive, which means it’s probably a good idea to avoid forming a group with all your closest friends, as you’re likely to get distracted. Instead, reach out to new classmates for study sessions, and take turns explaining class concepts to one another. You can even rent out one of the library or Student Center study rooms for a convenient place to study on campus.


Use your resources.

We’re still surprised that some #UHBauer students don’t know this, but you have a great resource on campus with Bauer Tutoring Services, which provides help with statistics, finance, supply chain management and more. And if you’re really in a pinch, a quick consultation with your friend Google can also lead to great video resources for whatever subject you’re having a hard time understanding.


Relax. You’ve got this.

Your first instinct when you feel like you’ve fallen behind in an important class might be to panic, or even worse, consider dropping. But stress will only make things more difficult and cloud your judgment. You may still have time to catch up and save your semester. Reach out to friends and mentors for help and encouragement, and keep in mind that even if you do have to drop the course, you can get another chance next semester. For some more inspiration about tackling tough courses, check out our Inside Bauer story about student Adele Tsamo, who offers advice for how anyone can succeed in a difficult course.

By Priscilla Aceves

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