The feeling that a class may be too much to handle can hit at any time – via rumor before you even take the class, on the day you get the syllabus, or even near the very end of the semester when the final just starts coming into view.
But when that overwhelming feeling does hit, it can cause students to worry even more than they need to. And this worry is often unwarranted, as we scare ourselves into discouragement based on other peoples’ opinions of a class, or get too down on ourselves for taking a few bad notes or missing one or two homework assignments.
So rather than worrying yourself into a hole when a particular class is weighing on you, take these steps to put a tough class into perspective and allow you to dig yourself out of setbacks and come out on top.
Buddy-up You can never really know how much it helps to have someone to turn to when the going gets tough until you actually need it, so prepare for when that time comes by getting the phone number or email of a few classmates. This way you can ensure that you won’t be caught without a friend to turn to when a homework assignment is unclear, a class is missed and you need notes, or you’re simply having trouble studying by yourself.
Arrive early, stay late Instead of avoiding the class you fear the most by getting in and getting out as quickly as possible, confront it. Try to arrive to the class ten minutes early to get a good seat where you can see and hear everything, and stay a few minutes afterwards to ask the professor to clarify anything that was confusing in the lecture.
Body language Did you know that acting attentive can actually cause you to pay closer attention in class? Well, it can. Experts have found that by practicing good body language and reading the professor’s, students can absorb more material and even get hints at what things will be on the test. Having this knowledge should be all the reason you need to sit up straight, follow the professor closely, and not let your thoughts wander.
Keep a question sheet The “I don’t get any of this” feeling that sometimes strikes weeks into a difficult class is usually a result of lingering confusions, or more specifically forgetting the questions you had somewhere down the line and, as a result, never asking them. Avoid this problem by keeping an active sheet separate from your notes where you can log any and all questions you have for the professor. Ask them.
Find a supplement If talking with the professor outside of class and doing everything in your power to learn in class still isn’t working, it’s time to get even more help. Many professors will have supplemental material to recommend to you, whether it’s reading or more practice problems, and can also suggest places to go for the best tutors. Take their advice to ensure you can learn the material, conquer the class, and eventually move on from it without having to worry about retaking it.