Monday, June 28, 2010

Challenge Yourself

"Professor assigns too much homework" or "Too much studying required for tests" - these are just some of the not-so-insightful comments you might come across while browsing RateMyProfessor. College students frequently forget that one of the most rewarding components of a college education is a healthy dose of challenge. They become so caught up researching what class will be an "easy A" that they end up shortchanging themselves on their own education. Students spend the better part of their high school years fretting about getting into a prestigious school, but once they are actually attending they fail to realize their academic potential. Students frequently equate challenge with struggle because they assume that when they are forced to pull an all-nighter they are being challenged and vice versa. As Serge pointed out in his recent article, all-nighters are not the key to succeeding in the classroom, especially not difficult ones. A challenging course is one in which thoughtful reflection is a prerequisite for success, and in which a good grade is far from guaranteed. When registering for classes for next semester, instead of researching which professors are easy graders and which aren’t instead draw your focus on which professors will make you work for your grade. Don't think that you and your friends will benefit equally from the same course. Challenge exists on a personal level, and those who seek it should not have much difficulty finding it. Challenge can be found in any school and in virtually any department. For anyone who thinks that challenge is limited to strictly technical courses realize that for every difficult technical class offered by your school there is bound to be a humanities class that is just as difficult. Challenge doesn't imply that success in the classroom is inhibited - it means that success has to be earned through a combination of hard work and smart study practices. So do yourself a favor: take at least one truly challenging course every semester until you graduate. The work ethic and motivation you will develop will last far longer and be far more valuable than the semester of work you have put into the class. The beauty of challenging courses is that with each one you conquer you will feel a noticeable difference in your own abilities. Challenging courses will provide the much-needed exercise to keep your brain in tip-top shape.

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