How to Get Through a Tough College Module Pt 1

So… you’ve signed up for a college module – and now you’re having second thoughts?  Maybe you turned up for the induction class and got a little more than you bargained for?  Did you originally skim through the course description and think, ‘Sure, I can hack that’…  but now you’re wondering if you really can?  

Plenty of people sign up for demanding and intellectually challenging courses in college.  That’s half the point of being there, after all.  Or a significant proportion of it, anyway.  But sometimes you can find a course intimidating enough that you start to wonder if you made a real mistake.  However, there are things you can do about it when this happens.

1 The first thing you should consider is whether your apprehensions are justified.  It’s possible you’ve just been overawed by the rarefied atmosphere of a module for which you have all the requirements and adequate smarts.  Just because college work can sometimes seem like hard going compared to high school doesn’t mean a module is a mistake – it’s supposed to be hard!  College is where your mind and your abilities grow and expand, and sometimes that takes sweat.

2  You can seek advice from tutors, advisors and peers as to whether the course is a good fit for you.  But in the end only you can decide.

3  But you should consider the possibility that your intuitions are right: that the course simply isn’t a good fit for you.  This doesn’t mean you’re dumb: just that your abilities and strengths don’t jibe well with the requirements of the course.  

4  If this module is weighty in terms of credits accrued, it may be wise to evaluate the possible effects on your final classification/GPA should you fail, re-take or barely scrape through the course.  If you are aiming for a career where final grades will be very relevant to your success or failure in finding a career opening, this is definitely the case.

5  But what to do if you decide that you’re tough enough to take it, come what may?  Well, if you’ve got a mountain to climb – and that’s what it can feel like – then you need to prepare well.  A good first stopoff is at your tutor or advisor’s office, because their advice in getting yourself geared up for academic challenges may well be invaluable.  Don’t ignore your peers as a mine of suggestions and information either – especially last year’s cohort who may have taken the same course and have a few words to the wise.

For more tips on taking a tough module, see part 2!


Copyright Ollie Hicks, 2009.

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