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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Don’t let a class’ difficulty steer you away from taking something you enjoy


April is right around the corner, which only means one thing — it’s time to open up ConnectCarolina and fill up your shopping cart like it’s $100 worth of groceries.

When picking classes for your major, factors such as time, location, professor and level of difficulty are important to consider, but I encourage you to take the ones you’re interested in if you have the opportunity, even if they have a daunting reputation.

It can be easy to immediately rule out the classes that you have heard horror stories about when trying to create the perfect schedule. While it is important to hear other students’ experiences in a class, I believe taking a difficult course that you’re fascinated by can be a positive and fulfilling experience, no matter what RateMyProfessors says.

I want to preface that every major and minor comes with different levels and types of academic rigor. Everyone’s brains work differently, and we all have different academic strengths. What we find challenging can range from spending hours in a lab to debating politics, perfecting a musical instrument or becoming fluent in a foreign language.

I experienced this firsthand in my public affairs reporting class this semester. Before enrolling, I had heard that this class had a rigorous workload and required intense time management and communication skills. Nevertheless, I decided to take it because I was eager to learn how to be a successful journalist, something I had no real experience with before the class.

On the first day of class, my professor said something along the lines of how it was the hardest course in the school, and several of the students dropped out. I stayed, and now I can confidently say it has been the most fulfilling class I have taken here so far.

I have learned so many vital skills and enjoyed the entire process, even if that has meant spending hours researching, writing and interviewing for stories. I could have taken a different and possibly easier class that fulfilled the same requirement. However, I would have been uninterested in it and would certainly not have enjoyed this semester as much as I do now. Because of this class, I know for sure that I want to be a journalist.

A 2022 study published in Frontiers in Psychology about the positive psychology of challenge found that challenging yourself is an important element for well-being and optimal functioning. To me, college is the best place to test what your strengths and weaknesses are while learning what works best for you. There is no better time to figure yourself out than in these four years, including academics and careers in addition to personal exploration.

I challenge you to challenge yourself to pursue your academic interests that can help you recognize your abilities. The best way to figure out if you can do something is to try it, even if that means pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Challenging yourself in general can build your confidence and enable you to tap into your full potential.

Plus, there is always the drop-add period for you as a safety blanket. There’s no shame in dropping a challenging class. Celebrate pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, even if it doesn’t work out. Don’t let a class’ reputation discourage you from taking something difficult and compelling. 

Take the classes you are interested in and embrace the challenge that comes with them during your time here.

@dthopinion |

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