Surviving College When You Hate it More Than Anything

College is tough. For many, this is the first experience of living on their own, setting their own schedules, and taking charge of their own life. While this is a time that many students look forward to, it can be terrifying. As much as we would all like to predict the future (and see perfection) this is not the case! With so much up in the air at this point in a student’s life, the last thing anyone needs is the added stress of stumbling through a class they hate; however, this struggle is a reality for everyone at some point in their college career.

Each individual is going to have a unique response to a class and the many components of its environment. Some may love a class-- while others despise it, but this will depend on the individual. The components of the classroom environment that will make or break a class can be simplified down to things you can control, and those you cannot.


Things You Can Control

College is a busy time, especially if you are balancing extracurriculars or a job on top of a full credit load! For many students, scholarships require a minimum number of credit hours, level of courses, and minimum GPA to be maintained. This is a lot of scholastic pressure for one student to face, but it is not impossible to tackle. You are responsible for setting your priorities. Recently, I had a professor email me that because I missed his class I was “not making [him] the priority he should be”. Yes he may feel this way, but in the end I get the final call in what is important to me. Similarly, you are responsible for setting your schedule. Work, school, social time, and sleep are all essential to success, yet for some reason here on Earth we only get 24 hours in a day. It's frustrating, but because time is limited, it is up to each person to make their own decisions regarding their priorities. Sure, many outside circumstances may play a role in how you make this decision; however, in the end it is your call on how you go about it. This includes what time you schedule your classes for, how many hours you work, how many credits you take, the time you allot for studying, and the effort you put towards each task. As hard as it is to accept accountability for feeling overloaded and stressed, a lot of the time there are choices we continue to make that are causing extra stress.


Things You Can’t Control

While we each do our best to set ourselves up for success, no road is going to take us there perfectly. We can’t control the people we find ourselves in class with, differences in opinions with others, or the methods of teaching a professor uses. Many classes, especially general education requirements, will have a mixture of majors from every area of study. Ideally, the diversity of fields would create a more holistic learning environment; however, the truth is it can cause more contention than within a single field. Narrowing the population down to a specific area of study allows for a connection through a common goal and an ambition for learning the topic at hand. Yet, not every class will cater specifically to what you are interested in. Both across fields of study and within a specific discourse, it can be difficult at times to face an opposing viewpoint. Diversity in backgrounds and interests can help to challenge and grow the mindset of an individual, but it can also be disheartening when conflict arises. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that is beyond your control; however, what you can do is decide how you react. Many professors encourage this type of discussion and debate, as studies have shown it to help individual growth; however, like many other teaching styles, this may not be the one for you. Each person has their own method of learning course materials and it may not be in the way a professor covers them. This can make a class more labor intensive and difficult, but it is still not impossible.


Overcoming the Challenge

Chances are that the class you cannot stand is the product of a combination of both things you can and can’t control. We have all been there and we will all be there again. Despite the regret we feel for signing up for the class, we are here and the semester is almost over. At this point, all you can do is give your best. Your “best” may not mean focusing intently on the class to get a decent grade, but it may be trying to participate in a discussion you aren’t interested in, completing the homework you don’t like doing, or even just smiling. You can’t fix others, you can only fix yourself. Reaction to the circumstance is all we can control. A situation may not be ideal, but it is where you currently are and at the moment you can’t change it. Remember, this is your education and it is up to you to make the best of it.


Sources: 1, 2, 3