How To Pass A Difficult College Class

Having trouble with a challenging college class? Here are some guidelines that can make the difference between passing and failing a tough course.

Many college students find that some courses are tougher than others. It may be due to the fact that all of us tend to enjoy one type of study over another. For some, it's math or science. For others, it's English or humanities.

Whatever the reason, when you find yourself enrolled in a class that seems especially difficult, you may be tempted to drop the course and take it later in your college career. If possible, however, you may want to try and tough it out so you can put the class behind you and rack up several more credits toward a college diploma.

Rather than roll over and play dead, take a proactive role in doing all you can to successfully pass your trial-by-fire course. If you haven't already considered the following, give them a try.

1. Review course materials carefully. Re-read the syllabus, assignment guidelines, and textbook readings as well as any optional resource material. Be sure you understand what is expected of you and how things are to be done. Never assume you know how to submit an assignment. Check the instructions that should be outlined in your notes or handouts.

2. Meet with the instructor. Come prepared for your interview with a list of questions. Begin by saying what you like about the course and end with a positive outlook for your eventual success:

Opening statement:

"This course includes topics that I've never studied before. I'm sure I'll learn a lot."

Closing statement:

"Thanks for explaining the assignment to me personally. I just want to be sure I'm on the right track."

Avoid blaming or critical comments like these:

"I have no idea of what you expect."

"Everyone is confused about your guidelines."

3. Inquire about campus learning support. Most campuses offer resource services through the Learning Center, which generally includes tutors or tutorials as well as staff (some of which may be former students who have taken the course you're struggling with) who can meet with you on a one-to-one basis. Make an appointment and come prepared with questions or a focused problem rather than saying "I'm getting nothing from my algebra class." Bring copies of course materials and the current assignment to work on.

4. Organize a study group with classmates. Meet regularly to discuss readings and work on assignments together, if this is permitted. Practice quiz or test questions and go over your class notes together. The old saying, "Two heads are better than one," applies well to this situation.

5. Seek off-campus assistance. Ask about additional resources at the local bookstore. Do an Internet search for software that may be able to help. Visit online academic sites with Q&A features. Join chat groups comprising college students who are dealing with the same issues that you are.

6. If after trying these steps you still feel like you're just not "getting it," give thought to dropping the class. After all, if you are unable to master the concepts and face the possibility of a low or failing grade, there's no point in jeopardizing your grade point average (GPA) when you can withdraw from the class and take it at a later time when your life settles down or you feel more prepared.

College is a great place to face struggles, weigh options, and make tough choices. Don't be perturbed when a course isn't going your way. View it as an opportunity to explore new vistas.

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