If you have ever been a college student, or thought about attending college, you must have heard: “College-level work is a lot more demanding than high school assignments.” Certain schools are regarded as “harder” than others, this is part of how people decide where to apply. Even in college, the questions people ask each other around class registration times all revolve around class difficulty with “You took it, didn’t you? How’s the professor?” “Was it interesting?” It all means the same: “Was it a difficult class?”
Although everyone’s perceptions and experiences vary, I define a “difficult” course as one with a stubborn concept that I just can’t get my head around.
One such instance may be a class that would be better off on-ground, but has been shifted to an online mode due to circumstances and it already is difficult in and of itself: like statistics, for example. It is simply a course that needs to be in person for a professor’s feedback in the moment, anything less just increases the difficulty.
Typically, when students refer to a course as difficult, it is a given that they are referring to the insurmountable amount of time and energy required to obtain a good grade. This is a highly subjective concept. Organic chemistry and its applications may be a joy ride for those like the geniuses who live with me in the Sci-Fi halls. Some people have natural affinity for subjects, which makes their perspective on classes skewed. Additionally, what each person considers a “good grade” is completely subjective. Cs do get degrees, but if you want to graduate with honors, you may view class difficult differently than others. It’s strange, I admit. While I am of my roommate’s breed, Organic chemistry is completely outside of both my strength and interest, so to me thats very difficult and I might welcome a C, meanwhile such a grade would have my friend’s in tears.
There is also something to be said for understanding how you view academics when determining the difficulty of college. My own subjective experiences have taught me that when I don’t care about something as much as I should, a kind of mental block sets in. I’m less eager to settle down, to really grasp the material and to fully engage with what I’m supposed to be learning. I’ll study, sure, and I’ll probably get a good grade, but I can tell my comprehension is at a lower level.
The truth is that every professor, subject, test, essay and even room setting is different and will play into whether college is hard for you or anyone else.
Recurring question: Is college hard?
Ahh well it just depends!
But that doesn’t mean you can’t actively work to make it easier.
Create a support system and common ground with your peers. The importance of externalizing our experiences cannot be overstated. The majority of our peers are still figuring things out in their first semester. My mystified self was spinning her wheels of change, much to my consternation and all the perplexity that surrounded new beginnings. After speaking with a few more peers, I realized that they were experiencing a similar feeling. What a wonderful blessing in disguise. I’d rather not have felt like I was the only one reeling beneath the rugs.
You should also manage your expectations. It’s difficult to get an A every time around. It could be the rubrics not doing your work justice, the grading curve or even memos where there is just no right or wrong answer. It may even be an unfair professor or just a subject you aren’t really interested in (darn gen eds.). But start internalizing that success and achievement isn’t a linear function of time rather comprehension is an uphill battle scored by improvement.
Allow yourself time in college to adjust and become accustomed to your new independence and lifestyle, and the rest will fall into place.
And with that, I’ll leave you with five of my survival tips.
CREATE A SCHEDULE: While you can’t change your class schedule, you can control how you spend the rest of your time. Set aside time for both personal and academic tasks. This helps in a less frantic and stressed schedule.
The busier you are, the more you tend to postpone things. Setting the due date several days ahead of time helps me get through college faster.
Sleep deprivation will exacerbate any stress you may be experiencing while in college. Pulling all-nighters has never served anyone well. According to studies, students are better off taking breaks in between rather than studying continuously.
EAT WELL AND AVOID ENERGY DRINKS
While energy drinks and quick meal solutions may appear appealing, they actually increase stress and anxiety levels, making you feel worse in the long run. The sensation of being jittery and shaky is simply not worth the trade-off of a quick and easy fix.
BREATHE AND ASK FOR HELP
Taking care of your body and mind leads to overall better mental health. That brings me to my final de-escalation technique, ‘Asking for help.’ It could be from a friend or even a trained therapist. All that matters is that assistance is provided! If you are going through a difficult time, don’t forget to call and talk to your loved ones!