Up until recently, school has never been too hard for me. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but in general I never had to worry about whether I would be getting the grade that I wanted a class.
That however has changed since I started my freshman year. Now that I am taking harder Chemistry classes for my major, I have lost many countless hours of sleep, spent even more hours in my professor’s office hours and done piles and piles of homework.
It stinks to struggle in classes, and the burnout struggle is so real. As tempting as it is to call it quits, I’ve had to push through and kick myself in the butt to continue on in my classes.
- Ask for help.
I am in my professor’s office every Monday and Wednesday to ask for help and clarifications. Honestly, I think he’s sick of me (and I have him for Organic Chemistry 2, so we’re going to be spending a lot of time together). But at the end of the day, I leave with a better understanding and I feel more comfortable with the material. Office Hours were created so that you can go ask questions, and the only one who loses by not going to office hours is you. Sometimes I go without any questions, but to listen to him re-explain things to other students. Building a relationship with the professor can help you stay motivated in your difficult class because they can make the class more bearable, and offer help.
One of the reasons why people lose motivation is because they feel like they are alone in their struggling. Study groups are a great way to get help and motivation. Knowing that you are not the only one struggling in the subject is totally reassuring. I know that in my O-Chem study group, we bonded over the fact that we were all completely lost in class, and that we all were not happy about the grades we got on the first exam, and it makes class more manageable. Sometimes it takes a peer to explain things, and study groups are also good for trading insider secrets such as mnemonics or tricks to remember important concepts.
- Find a way to make it fun.
Unless you are a mathematician, Calculus isn’t very appealing. But knowing how to optimize the volume of your closet you can have more clothes is cool.If you can find a way to relate the class into something you actually care about, whether it pertains to your major or an interest you have, then you’ll be more likely to study and get motivated to understand the concepts. I know that whenever I can relate a specific thing that I learn in chemistry to pharmacy, I get super excited and I want to know more.
- Surround yourself with motivators.
Having intrinsic motivation is awesome, but we all need someone to tell us that we’re going to do alright. Having people who understand what you are going through and can push you to do better is super important. If they can’t help you with the course, they can listen to you rant about the subject, or be a Guinea pig that you “teach”.
- Do the best you can.
At the end of the day, if you know that you did everything you can possibly do in the class, then no matter the grade, you’ve succeeded. Now, I know this is hard to believe, and when this was told to me, I didn’t believe it one bit. Sometimes it’s more about the effort that you put in, and not about the grade that you get. Letters are arbitrary, effort is not.
Knowing how you study and making sure you are honest with yourself about the amount of time you are studying is important. I know whenever I am studying for Organic Chemistry, every minute felt like an hour. Being persistent and making good habits won’t make the class any easier, but it will make you feel more like you are climbing a small hill, rather than scaling Mount Everest.
Good luck and happy studying! Don’t let the course bring you down!