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What to do if you hate a class: 6 tips for students

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

You’re going to hate a class. At some point in your school life, you’re going to hate a class for some reason or another. Maybe it’s the teacher, or maybe it’s the subject matter. Maybe it’s too hard, or maybe it’s too boringly easy.

If you’re one of the lucky few student unicorns, this may not happen to you, but for the rest of us out there, the question is what to do if you hate a class.

How to pick the right classes so you won’t hate them

Let’s start with the obvious first step: don’t take classes you will hate. I know, I know. This is annoying advice and not always possible, especially if you’re in high school or if you’re in a situation where you don’t have much choice.

But if you do have some control over what classes you take, the following tips might help you avoid taking a class you hate:

1. Clarify your end goal

Knowing what your ultimate goal is will help you choose the right classes to lead you there. If you want to get accepted at a top-level college, you will likely need AP classes. If you want to graduate college with a major in neuroscience, you need a whole bunch of science courses. When you know your end goal, you pick classes that get you there.

2. Know your weaknesses

This seems obvious, but if you know you struggle in math classes, avoid signing up for challenging math classes. If reading isn’t your strength, then perhaps don’t take literature courses. It’s not always possible to get around course requirements entirely, but you can still choose the best option among the subjects you don’t like.

3. Pay attention to class format

With a little research, you can figure out what format a class is in before registering for it. Some courses are in lecture format, while some are small-group centered or lab-based. If you know you succeed in small classes, learn this information ahead of time. Prefer large intro courses? Learn that information ahead of time.

4. Negotiate

I know requirements are requirements, yada yada, but I was raised to believe everything is negotiable. And now I teach the same. (Shoutout to Mom and Dad.) If you’re required to take a course that you know you are going to struggle in, meet with your counselor to see if there’s a compromise. You don’t know until you ask.

Let me tell you a story I’ve titled “Let’s not take math.” Once upon a time, when I was entering college, I had a freshman math requirement. I did not want to take math. Although I was good at it and did fine in AP Calculus in high school, I was personally done with math classes. So, because everything is negotiable, I met with my advisor during the first week of school to see what we could do. We agreed that if I doubled up on lab courses, she would waive the math requirement. Deal! Double science, no math, sign me up.

You don’t know until you ask.

What to do if you hate a class you’re currently taking

Okay, let’s say you tried really hard to avoid a certain class, but ended up in it anyways. Or, maybe you thought you’d like a certain class, but it ended up being awful. What do you do then? The following 6 practical tips should help.

1. Show up

The first thing students want to do when they hate a class is not go to it. I get it: avoid the pain, right? But here’s the reality of the situation: if you stop showing up to class because you don’t like it, then you will fall behind. The more you fall behind, the more stressed out you’ll be. The more stressed out you are, the more you’ll hate the class. It’s a vicious cycle. (If you’re absent a lot, here’s what you need to do.)

Letting your feelings about a bad class get the best of you will only make the situation worse, as it traps you in a cycle that’s hard to break. The solution? Go to class.

The best approach is to show up anyways and suck it up. (Harsh? Sorry.) Your class is not going to last forever. It will not kill you. I know the reasons you don’t like are likely valid and real, but show up anyway. Get in, do the work, get out. It really can be that simple.

2. Pair it with something enjoyable

If you dread going to your lecture chemistry class at 7:30 in the morning, a) I feel you, and b) add an element of happiness to the situation. For example, if your 7:30 AM chem class is on Tuesdays and Thursdays, make those the days that you stop at your favorite cafe to get a coffee and a croissant to bring to class. Now you have something to look forward to.

3. Focus on the bigger picture

Sometimes we hate a class because we don’t see the point. We think it’s a waste of our time. But the trick is seeing the bigger picture beyond the class you don’t like. For example, let’s say you’re taking a Spanish language class because it’s a graduation requirement, but you hate Spanish. The bigger picture is to graduate high school, yes? And without taking the Spanish class, you can’t graduate, yes? So that’s the point of taking the Spanish class. It takes maturity to look beyond the immediate source of frustration and think what’s this really for?

4. Learn the material on your own

One of the best strategies for what to do if you hate a class is to learn the material on your own. Yes, I know the whole point is for the teacher or professor to teach it to you, but that’s not always going to happen the way you want it to. 

If you don’t like the course because the material is hard or the teacher isn’t your favorite, then it’s on you to find the information elsewhere. Get a tutor, work with a peer who gets it, or watch YouTube videos … these days, you can get an education on anything with just a little effort. 

Is this a bummer? Maybe. Wouldn’t you rather have the teacher teach you the content? Probably. But if that’s not happening, you have to figure it out, my friend. Here’s how to figure things out, by the way.

5. Identify exactly what you don’t like

There are many reasons why we might hate a class. It could be the teacher, the content, the people in the class, the way the material is presented, what time the class runs, the classroom set-up and environment, or even the commute there. If you find yourself hating a class, see if you can identify the exact reason. 

If you’re tempted to respond “Ahh, it’s everything! I hate everything about it!” I challenge you to abandon that defensive absolute thinking because it doesn’t serve you and you’re better than that. What don’t you like? Narrow it down. Think about all the different parts of the class (like the ones I list in the paragraph above this one) and pay attention to which one flips your stomach. That’s the one. Now, once you’ve identified what part of the class you don’t like, you can find a reasonable way to make it better.

Don’t like your commute? Take a different route or carpool with a friend. Don’t like the teacher? Try these strategies. Don’t like the way the material is presented because it’s for the wrong learning style? Teach the material to yourself in your own learning style.

6. Quit the class

This tip doesn’t exactly match the “you can do it!” vibe of the other tips. But let’s be real: it’s still an option. I’m not saying it is the best option, but quitting a class is a last resort if you don’t know what else to do about a class you hate. If you’re intent on dropping out, I suggest you at least follow the following 2 simple rules:

  1. End on a good note with the teacher. Meet face-to-face to close the relationship with clarity and gratitude. You never know when you might cross paths again.
  2. Substitute the class with another. If this isn’t possible right away, plan to make up for the dropped course, perhaps over the summer or by doubling up next semester.

Conclusion: Real talk

If you’ve been wondering what to do if you hate a class, that probably means you’re in the middle of a class that’s giving you all sorts of bad feelings. If that’s the case, I feel for you and I wish you were not in that situation. But you are. 

Now, you have two choices. You can either do nothing and continue to grow resentful towards the class and the teacher, probably impacting our attendance and grade. Or, you could say to yourself, “Whelp. Guess I gotta get in the saddle and ride this out a different way.” You, my friend, should choose option two.

The post What to do if you hate a class: 6 tips for students appeared first on SchoolHabits.

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