What is the most failed college course? Image Source

Think your college courses are tough? Well… you need to read this…

This didn’t turn out exactly as I expected. I went from searching for a way to judge the hardest college courses into this. It became one of the most important realizations for anyone facing a tough course.

I was own my third hour staring at my computer monitor. It was only interrupted by the warmth from resting my eyes into the palms of my hand. I was busy researching an article for this blog.

I was looking everywhere to try and find a good methodology for finding the “hardest college courses.”


What I Thought I’d Find

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Getting through college can be tough but which courses make it even tougher? Image Source

I had read list after list on the subject. Every time I found a list it seemed to be a bunch of random speculation by an author that didn’t research it. I’d hear the usual list of classes like:

  • Multivariable Calculus
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Anatomy
  • Thermodynamics (Eek… I don’t even know what that means.)

I was looking for some good research for an article. I found, essentially, nothing.

After all that researching I was finally starting to find good research on the subject.

An idea that probably should have come to me earlier struck.

The best methodology for finding the hardest college course was using failure rates. Students would fail difficult classes. They would pass the easier classes. That makes some sense, right?

What I found blew my mind.

What Do You Think Is The Most Failed College Course?

What makes a difficult class anyway? Image Source

When I first started with this idea, I was thinking the hardest  college course would end up being one of the traditionally hard courses.

I expected to see organic chemistry on the list. Calculus would be on my list. You know the kind of class I’m talking about, right?

I was expecting to see the kinds of classes where students regularly spent dozens of hours a week learning the subject. I expected the kind of courses good students struggled in.

When I think of challenging courses, my brain focuses on a few typical areas.

What Makes A Course Difficult?

There are three main reasons I’d think a course is difficult:

  • Obscure Memorization
  • Complex Math
  • Tons Of Work

First of all, I think about obscure memorization. Some classes require an extensive amount of memorization.

When that memorization includes a bunch of obscure, long, and hard to remember words, the challenge starts to kick in.

Most students suffer immensely through these kinds of courses. (Of course, if you focus on the strategies taught on this blog you won’t have that big a problem.)

As soon as the math problem starts taking up a full page I’d get concerned. Image Source

Next, I think of courses with complex math. Calculus (or Calculus II) is the perfect example for this. If a student doesn’t have a good instinctual understanding of the previous math they’ve passed, they’re going to struggle to keep up in these more advanced courses.


Essentially, these courses are difficult because they require such a huge list of prerequisites to do well in. If you’re not prepared, you will struggle.

Another major challenge that I think about is workload. Some courses have huge work expectations. This might be expected in some kind of a legal course load. I personally haven’t suffered through this but that’s what I think about.

When someone needs to spend hours and hours a week writing papers they’re going to struggle. This is particularly true if they’re not the kind of student that actually cares about what they do.

This all seems to make sense, right?

Well… It might but it certainly doesn’t explain this…

The Most Failed College Course Is…

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If you’re working for hours a day on a course then you’re setting yourself up for a challenge. Image Source


You know… that subject you passed in high school.

In most colleges around the United States, Algebra is one of the most failed courses.

Where is organic chemistry? Where is Calculus III or Managerial Accounting? How about those obscure courses that require hundreds of pages of writing? Well… they hardly even show up on the list of most failed college courses until nice and late.

The list of the most failed college classes is usually filled with remedial classes.

They’re the kinds of classes that college students usually have already passed.

What’s so hard about algebra? Well… considering they probably were required to pass this class in high school before even graduating, it might be safe to say, not all that much. It appears the most failed class isn’t actually the hardest college course. To me, this is saying something completely different.

I certainly don’t mean to say that this courses aren’t tough because they absolutely are in certain situations. When a student has fallen behind it can  be significantly more challenging to catch up. This is a sign of extraordinary motivation and intelligence.

What Does That Mean?

Algebra can be a serious challenge when you don’t know how to do it. College students seem to verify that fact. Image Source

Assuming algebra isn’t the most challenging course in college (call me crazy but I think that’s a pretty safe assumption,) why are people failing it at a higher percentage than your average organic chemistry course?

People are failing it because it has very little to do with the class. It has everything to do with the people. And no, this has little to do with actual intelligence.

Student’s that are behind in high school (the kind of student that needs to take basic Algebra courses,) are students that probably don’t have good habits. They struggled because they didn’t pay attention or put the required time in.

The students that take organic chemistry already know how to learn. They have the good habits. They have the background. This gives them a head start.

Certain classes are more difficult than other classes. Despite that, students that know how to study and learn will still do better.

Take one “bad student” and put him or her into a super basic class. They are still more likely to fail than a “good student” taking a super difficult course.

I’ve said it once but it’s worth repeating: the most failed college course has almost nothing to do with the class and it has everything to do with the student.

Students can typically survive the really difficult courses. Image Source

What This Means For You

Let me ask you this about the hard course you’re taking or thinking about taking. Are you worried about failing because the course is too tough? Well… odds are, if you fail, the course is not the one to blame.

You can take this as a slap in the face or a sportsman’s slap in the ass. If you don’t have a good reason you think you’ll fail then you need to be careful not to doubt yourself so much.

Make the right decisions and you’ll be in an amazing position to pass any class you take. If you don’t give up then you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

Don’t give up and don’t forget what your decisions are capable of doing for you.

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What’s The Most Failed College Course? This Will Surprise You
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