Making the grade: passing the im”pass”able

Grace Vespa

Low grades in a difficult class can mean stress, anxiety, and the fear that you may never be able to bring up your GPA. Typically, difficult courses are usually STEM-related in math, engineering, or science fields. According to an article on StudyBreaks, the four most commonly failed college courses are algebra, organic chemistry, physics, and anatomy and physiology.

The majority of students view mathematics and science courses as the hardest to pass, though passing the course may depend on their major, interests, and ability to grasp the hard concepts. StudyBreaks states that algebra is difficult to pass, not only because of the concepts being taught, but rather due to freshmen adjusting to their “new schedule, subjects, and environment.” Therefore, in the case of algebra, it may not be the course that’s hard, but rather the surrounding environment. However, with physics and organic chemistry, it is necessary to rely on a combination of logic and creative thinking for each specific example. For theoretical science-based classes such as these, it is necessary to know the basic ideas behind the subject. In order to do so, it is best to go to the office hours of the professor, because they are the best resource to understanding what they are teaching. However, if there is a lack of guidance from a professor, then it is important to delegate more time and effort to comprehend every concept.

For example, the University hosts an elementary statistics class that is required in the Business Core Curriculum for all Lubin majors. According to James B. Ramsey from the NYU Department of Economics publishes article, “Why Do Students Find Statistics So Difficult,” he suggests that statistics are difficult due to “the unwillingness of instructors to recognize…the teaching of statistics.” Ramsey indicates that the problem lies not in the class itself, but in the idea that statistics cannot be taught like mathematics or physics. If the professor is not teaching the course in the correct manner, the student will rely on memorizing the formula without understanding the concepts behind the question. Additionally, Ramsey suggests that one way to teach statistics is through understanding that “the process of statistical analysis is that the theory underlying the formal calculations is absolutely essential to the interpretations that are made.” Ramsey highlights that comprehending the theory behind the calculations is significant in further understanding the interpretations of the problem. Furthermore, he expresses that even though it is necessary to practice statistical problems, there has not been enough thought behind “designing exercises to meet specific objectives.” Thus, even if students learn and practice on their own, they must apply the correct problems to specific formulas in order to fully learn about the process that generated the data.

Understanding the concept may not always be easy, especially without guidance from a professor, which is why it is necessary to go utilize learning centers, group study opportunities, and online resources to genuinely put in the effort. One main resource University students can use is an online magazine titled The Academic, posted on Issue. In ten issues, students from the United States write about how to tackle academics, lifestyle, and careers in college. In issue six, an article titled “Study Resources for your Core Classes: Math,” suggests that the first step is to understand the way your professor teaches. If the professor is not easily understood or you are not unable to have a relationship with your professor, the next best thing is to use online resources. Especially for math or economics questions, one way to learn is through Khan Academy videos and their large database of problems. Through websites like Khan Academy, they allow the student to practice and develop their math skills successfully.

It is always best to go to a tutor that specializes in the difficult subject. At the University, the Learning Center, formerly the Tutoring Center, is located at 163 William Street on the 17th floor. The Learning Center offers specialized tutoring in classes for accounting, biology, chemistry, economics, finance, physics, mathematics, italian, french, spansh, and philosophy, as well as mentoring in study skills. In addition, they offer a general walk in schedule and individual subject schedules, and it is not necessary to make an appointment to work with a tutor. Each session is roughly an hour and a half, so the tutors review with the students extremely well for the subject they are studying.

These techniques will hopefully help any student learn how to pass their most difficult courses, as well as understand the skills that work best for them. Regardless of your major, once you review and absorb the information, the difficult class might be enjoyable and educational.