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 1. Chemistry 221 – General Chemistry I

CH221 is infamous for being one of the most difficult classes at the University of Oregon, with some graduating students even citing it to be the most difficult class they had during their time in college. It is the first of three classes in a chemistry sequence which must be completed to move on to higher level classes. Students taking this should expect extremely difficult formulas related to components of matter, quantitative relationships, atomic structure, and thermochemistry. That said, despite the hours upon hours of studying for this class can be grueling, those who complete it will walk away with a plethora of knowledge that is well worth having.

2. Intro language classes

Learning a second or third language is not an easy task, least of all in the beginning. Language classes that bear the numbers of 101, 102, 103, 201, 202, and 203 are all remarkably difficult not because of the material but because of the workload necessary to give students a proficiency for later classes. On top of being expected to show up to the same class at the same time five days in a row, often early in the morning, students will have hundreds of vocabulary words and grammar rules to master even in just one quarter. It is not uncommon for there to be as many as six assignments due in one night. Then again, who doesn’t want to learn some French?

3. Psychology 303 – Research Methods

Not all classes are difficult because of workload or course material, though the course material is quite challenging for many. PSY303 involves spending hours sitting in a dinky, windowless basement room in front of a computer screen while trying to learn how to plug in a slew of terrifyingly similar variables into a complicated computer program that then spits out statistical results. Psychologists have found that humans struggle to pay attention for more than ten minutes, especially if the task is mundane. PSY303 is one of the classes required to progress to upper division level psychology courses, but it is by far the most mundane of the classes one will ever sit in.

4. Writing 121 – College Composition I

A required course to graduate, what might seem like an easy class at first surprisingly isn’t. It’s quite common for the class average on the first assignment to be a C or worse. This is almost entirely because of a writing construct called an enthymeme, wherein students must replace a thesis statement in essays with a sentence going something like, “This is true because of this.” Though a simple concept at first, the restructuring of the entire essay which is forced to take place afterward is not always straightforward and is sometimes quite vague, damaging the grades of students who are slow to realize that this isn’t a high school English class. On the other hand, rejoice! Except for WR121 and WR122, no other class in the entirety of the University of Oregon requires, recommends, uses, or even acknowledges the enthymeme.

5. Psychology 309 – Psychopathology

PSY309 is not inherently difficult in terms of subject matter, but the structure of the class sure is! With grades compounded into three very short 10 point essays and a series of 15 question quizzes, it’s all too easy to lose a huge chunk of one’s grade just by missing out on one or two points from each quiz or essay. If you take this class, bring your A-game and try to aim for perfection!

6. Political Science 455 – Theories of International Politics

PS455 is a fascinating class which discusses the theoretical frameworks political scientists use to interpret, respond to, and even predict the actions of various nations around the world. Despite this, students entering should do so only with a huge mass of pre-existing knowledge about international relations, lest they get lost in talk about meta-theories and the cult of the offensive. Put on your critical thinking caps for this one, folks.

7. Astronomy 122 – Birth & Death of Stars

What sounds like an amazingly cool class at first will shockingly turn into the worst nightmare for students who hate math. From parallax to the doppler effect, this class is full of astrophysics style calculations and equations. Though physics students will find this class to be no problem, those who walk in unacquainted are in for a rude awakening. Beware, the textbook is also massive and heavy.

8. Gateway Sequence

Part of the process for getting into the Journalism School, J205 (Media Professions), J206 (Grammar For Communications), and J207 (Media and Society) form an infamous series of classes known as the Gateway sequence. While the material is not difficult, the workload is. Any student that has taken this can attest to how rigorous it is and how life consuming it can be. Pro tip: Bring a flash drive everywhere you go and store all of your documents on it. You will need it.

9. Mixed Martial Arts II

One wouldn’t expect a PE class to make it onto this list, yet many students struggle to learn, let alone find proficiency in the material of this class. A continuation from MMA I, students taking this will find that the material is no easier for them. Because of how difficult it is to master as well as the policy of not having real sparring, those who take this class will ultimately only learn skeletal details at best, and will not emerge capable of actually fighting. That said, there’s only one teacher for this class, and he’s a great guy!
10. Math 111 – College Algebra

You would think that a subject as simple as algebra, something many of us learned in middle and high school, wouldn’t be that tough. Yet for many students, this is their first math class in years. Combine that with the extremely fast pace at which it moves and the way many teachers take understanding of the material for granted and you’ve got Math 111. In Fall of 2015, of 1215 students who took this class, 307 of them received a D, F, or W. This means 1 in 4, making Math 111 the most failed class at the University of Oregon. So buckle in, freshies. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

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