How to Ace a Class You Hate

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As a student, sitting through a class you hate (you heard me, gen eds) every MWF for an entire semester is an unfortunate hazard of the job. Even more difficult than powering through with your eyes open is managing to put in enough effort to get a good grade. Don’t give up just yet, though; there’s hope. Follow these 10 steps and your GPA won’t be as negatively affected as your personal feelings about philosophy.

1. Acknowledge that you hate it

The first step is acceptance: Accept that it might be harder to do well in this class than others. Naturally, the less you like a class, the less time you’re willing to put into succeeding. Divvying up time fairly between all your classes can help you avoid this, especially if you make a written homework schedule for the week in your shiny new planner. Believe it or not, that planner is good for more than just marking down game days.

2. Schedule it at the right time…

Scheduling classes early in the morning or late at night might not sound so bad at the beginning of the semester, but walking nearly a mile home from a 90-minute German class at 6 p.m. on a cold, dark winter night really has a way of making you not want to go back (I speak from experience). If you schedule back-to-back classes during the middle of the day, your attendance is much less likely to plummet mid-semester.

3. …With the right professor

A boring, harsh or just straight-up weird professor can ruin even the most interesting classes. Thus, finding someone to teach you about a subject you dislike for the next few months is a crucial decision. At ratemyprofessors.com you can find reviews from other students detailing any given professor’s helpfulness, clarity and easiness. There’s even a “hotness” rating, if that’s what you’re into.

4. Only go to lecture if you actually learn things in lecture

I’m normally a big advocate of going to class, but it might not always be necessary or beneficial. Many of the classes we don’t like are those we’re required to take, which tend to go hand-in-hand with boring professors and fairly straightforward information. So if you learn better from the book than you do from your professor talking circles, skip lecture and hit the library instead.

5. … But always go to discussion

Discussion sections almost always count toward your grade, and skipping robs you not only of that five percent at the end of the semester, but also an explanation for things you didn’t get from your professor (or your book). Regularly attending discussion can help you grasp important exam topics and clarify anything you don’t understand. Plus, being on your TA’s good side never hurts.

6. Find a study buddy

No matter the size of your lecture, make the effort to emerge from your introvert bubble and make a friend. Whether he be a stranger, your best friend or that super nerdy kid who lives on your floor, a study buddy can fill you in on anything you missed and help you prepare for upcoming projects and exams.

7. Don’t skip the extra credit

Professors mention it the first day of class and you forget about it until you’re stressing for the final exam. We’ve all been there. Though it usually doesn’t account for a huge grade bump, it can definitely help if you’re toeing the line between a pass and a fail. Plus, it’s rarely time consuming and, dare I say it, can even be enjoyable. Get your extra credit done before the stressful last month of the semester, and you’ll have no regrets when your final grades are posted.

8. Affiliate something positive with your study sesh

If 20 ounces of your favorite Starbucks drink is what it takes for you to get through your homework, go for it. Homework sucks, but at least you get your ‘bucks. You can also use anything else you like to increase the chances you’ll enjoy your time at the lib, like listening to your favorite Spotify playlist or wearing your favorite study outfit.

9. Reward yourself

Going to class and doing your homework—especially for this class—can seem like daunting tasks. Allowing yourself a glass of wine, a yoga class or any other kind of reward after you’ve accomplished your daily goal is a great way to make your efforts feel worthwhile. It’s all about positive reinforcement.

10. Remind yourself that if you fail, you’ll have to take it again

If that isn’t motivation enough to do well, I don’t know what is.

Senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying journalism and environmental studies. Like the Lorax, I speak for the trees. Goals include owning a French Bulldog and living in Seattle.

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