desk for studying

Photograph by STIL from Unsplash.

5 Tips to Pass a Course You Hate

We’ve all been there, am I right? Sometimes you’re stuck with a course that you really don’t click with, for whatever reason, and it’s such a struggle. If you can switch courses, then that’s great and problem solved, but that isn’t always an option. If you’re in this position and you really just need to pass, here are some tips to get you through.

Also, if this is you, I feel you. You will get through this.

1. Actively Decide to Finish the Course

girl holding course books

Photograph by Siora Photography from Unsplash.

Maybe it sounds silly but this was honestly the gamechanger for me. You want to convince yourself that this is something you are choosing for yourself. When you don’t want to do something, your brain usually keeps wandering to things like what if I switch courses or what if I drop out etc.

This is quickly met with reasons for why you can’t drop the course like maybe it’s something that your parents decided, or it’s to do with financial issues or it’s impractical.

You’re being forced to do the course? You don’t have a choice in the matter? No. You choose this wholeheartedly. Whatever the reason is, you choose this of your own accord.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t acknowledge your negative feelings around the situation, but you really don’t want to mull on the alternatives for too long.

Think of it as an essay topic. If you’re 500 words deep into an essay that you’re very unsure of and you don’t know how to finish, you’re probably not going to be very productive. As soon as you fully commit to that topic, it’s like you can suddenly bend words, maybe talk a little bit of rubbish, but somehow make it to the end.

2. Create An Anchor

What I really mean by this is that you want to make intentional associations. For me, it was associating sitting in the main lab with productivity. Choose your place and make it exclusively for that course work.

I know that some people get distracted by other people but if you can stay focused, I would highly recommend making that workspace around other people who are working. If everyone else is working, you’re more inclined to stay focussed.

Working at coffee shops used to be great for this. Everyone else is working, you feel weird watching Netflix at a coffee shop and you aren’t distracted by any friends. Works like a charm.

3. Surround Yourself with People Who Also Want to Pass

studying to pass a course

Photograph by Sarah Noltner from Unsplash.

If you can, try to find a group of people who are motivated to pass the course and stick with them. We all need a little help sometimes and having people to support and keep you on track is extremely valuable. 

It doesn’t have to be a formal study group but consistently being around people who are working on the same course is a great reminder to get your act together.

4. Course Mind Tricks

This one is hard to actually implement but if you can crack it, you’ll be home free. Let me tell you a story:

In high school, I absolutely hated Afrikaans. Like seriously, it was the worst for me. In my last year, I decided that I wanted to try and enjoy the subject that year. I wanted to be curious and inquisitive about the language and what it had to offer. 

That year, I achieved the highest mark that I had ever achieved in that subject.

Moral of the story: most people do well at things that they enjoy.

So, I’m sure you have very valid reasons for hating the course that you’re taking, but there’s always a loophole. There’s always something you can wrangle in your brain as a positive. Find it and latch onto it for dear life!

5. Look Up and Ahead

Sometimes you get so deep into the grind that you forget that the rest of the world exists. Giving yourself something to look forward to can help you take a breath and get some perspective once in a while.

Working to pass this course is temporary. Take a moment to think about how you’re going to reward yourself when you finish. For some people, this may be a family trip overseas and for others, it could mean a whole day spent watching Netflix with zero guilt. Either way, decide now how you’re going to celebrate and keep that in mind whenever you start to lose motivation.

It may be a very small motivator but it’s still a motivator.

man hiking on top of mountain

Photograph by Joel & Jasmin Forestbird from Unsplash.

Whether you can apply all five of these tips or only one or two, I hope they help. These are all the things that I personally did to get through many courses that I really didn’t enjoy. I know I’m not the first person to pass a course that they hate and I definitely won’t be the last, so good luck to everyone entering that challenge. If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to drop them in the comments!

“The big talent is persistence.” – Octavia E. Butler


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