The Hardest College Courses

If you find any of the following courses particularly easy or awesome, consider yourself lucky, smarty-pants!

Elizabeth Hoyt

November 12, 2014

The Hardest College Courses

While the ultimate list is going to be subjective to each student, we’ve trudged through forum after forum, site after site, Google searches galore and every social media network known to man to come up with a general list of the courses that most students find, well, unbearable.

That’s not to say that students aren’t able to handle them or that some students don’t love them – there are exceptions to every rule. While you may find a course easy to comprehend as a math major, someone else may find it excruciating (and vice versa). As we said, it’s all relative.

However, there are courses that have a reputation across college campuses for being the most torturous, often even for those majoring within the subject. So, if you find any of the following courses particularly easy or awesome, consider yourself lucky, smarty-pants!

And, though these courses can be difficult, they’re not impossible. This list should not scare you away from taking any of the following courses, either. Plenty of students pass them with flying colors. You should just go into them prepared to put in some extra time and effort, which you should be prepared to do with all of your classes, should you need to.

Here’s a list of courses that have a reputation amongst students for being the most challenging college courses:

1. Organic Chemistry – This course weeds out the doctors from the wannabes. It’s certainly difficult – there’s a consensus that it’s a lot of work, memorizing and takes commitment but, with motivation, is manageable. It is, however, the course that causes many students to switch majors.

2. Linguistics – As students get into higher-level linguistics, things start to get more complicated. Colleges don’t mess around.

3. Economics – It seems like a lot of students simply find economics a combination of extremely challenging and extremely boring. Boring makes a lot of people zone out, and you have to focus to understand challenging concepts, which is a lethal combination for a GPA.

4. Anatomy – This course is tough because it’s a lot of memorization. Because, in case you haven’t heard, the human body is pretty complex.

5. Calculus – If you’re not into math or not math-minded, this class can be a nightmare given the abstract and difficult concepts in mathematical theory. Enough said.

6. Quantum Mechanics / Physics– What some describe as a tedious subject to learn, other students find the abstract aspects applied to numbers challenging to comprehend. Apparently, you either get it or you don’t. And, since you need to actually understand the equations in order to be able to properly apply them, if you don’t get it, you aren’t able to know which equation to apply since there isn’t really a set equation for each problem. It’s really more about applying your knowledge, so if you don’t get it, you’re in trouble.

7. Philosophy / Metaphysics – In metaphysics, you learn and discover extremely abstract concepts and theories that question reality and physical senses. It’s a philosophical head spin, which many have trouble grasping. We don’t blame them, either.

8. Thermodynamics – Extremely time intensive, this course involves all sorts of memorization as well as the understanding of concepts involving physics. Therefore, memorization time and effort plus understanding are required. That is a lot of time and effort. Just saying.

9. Statistics – This course involves collecting, analyzing, interpreting, presenting and organizing all aspects of data. That means it involves a lot of charts, numbers, equations and controlled experiments with numbers, which many students find confusing to follow, difficult to comprehend and/or monotonous.

10. Theory – There are different disciplines that fall within theory, such as political theory or scientific theory. Many find theory difficult because the courses study different explanations of thought and the results behind them. Many of the subjects can be difficult to follow and rigorous in terms of course material, which is likely why students often deem theory subjects among the most challenging.

11. English Literature – If you’re not a strong or particularly fast reader, readings can pile up quickly. Reading the material isn’t the only requirement, either. Students must comprehend large quantities of material (often in old English) and apply it by writing lengthy essays and on dreaded essay exams. While many may find these courses a snap, the majority of STEM majors avoid them like the plague.

12. Psychology – If you’ve met a handful of people in your lifetime, you know that the science of understanding individuals and groups can’t be easy. People are hard to grasp and society can be even more difficult to understand at times. That, coupled with learning seemingly endless psychological and biological processes, behaviors and a variety of other types of areas is certainly enough to consider this subject interesting – but certainly difficult, to say the least.

What’s the hardest college course you’ve taken?

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