Hardest Class at U-M?

Submitted by gomaize11 on February 8th, 2010 at 5:14 PM

As I sit at my desk cramming and dreading the hours to my quantum mechanics mid-term, this question crossed my mind. Obviously this class is small potatoes compared to others at the university, so to make me feel better what are some hard courses you've survived at the U (or other colleges)?



February 8th, 2010 at 6:23 PM ^

Took it as my "easy" course in a semester with 3 400 level EECS courses... I made it to maybe 5 lectures on the semester and walked away with my lowest grade of any class in my 4 yrs, B-.

The best part was that I didn't care one bit. Excuse me. The best IS that I DON'T care one bit. :)


February 8th, 2010 at 6:29 PM ^

I can't remember that far back, but according to my son, EECS 489, Computer Networks, was the worst course he ever saw. He lived in the Dude for the entire semester, often until the early hours of the morning, for the entire semester.


February 8th, 2010 at 6:30 PM ^

so nothing was really hard, but some of the B-School pre reqs, like Accounting were "hard" because of all the gunners who really wanted to get into B-School. I did take Econ 401, which I guess was the hardest (but it wasn't bad at all, like Engineering classes).


February 8th, 2010 at 6:41 PM ^

I took organic chem, Math 417, but my piano juries were the hardest. Here's the case for them

- Nobody studies 4 hours a day for any course. Piano majors practice 4 hours a day and more for their final.

- 15 minutes vs. 2 hours. You can make up time or realize your stupidity in 2 hours, but not in the 15 minutes of a jury

- one shot. You can't go back if you screw up in your Piano final, whereas you can go back and fix your mistakes on a test.

- Win or you're out. At Junior finals, if you fail, you're OUT of the major and have to find another school to accept you! The fail rate is also a lot higher than chem or math or something like that.


February 8th, 2010 at 7:57 PM ^

I double-majored in Theatre & English, so I never suffered like all of these engineer types. Performing, however, is a completely different kind of hard.

I had acting classes where your grade for the entire semester was based on one 60-second monologue performance, just like auditions in the real world.

Beginning at the end of second semester, and every semester thereafter, you also had to audition for the whole theatre faculty to stay in the program.

A lot of this is so foreign to me . . . maybe because I went to Western. What are TAs? :-] I had a single class period taught by a TA (and the professor was in the room). That's it--2 hours total over four years. Every other class was taught by a professor, and I only ever had about two classes with more than 30 students in them. Most were closer to 10-12. Viva la teaching college.


February 9th, 2010 at 3:00 PM ^

I got my MM in flute performance at Michigan. I was principal flute in the Symphony Band under H Robert Reynolds, and also played in the USO under Gustav Meier (the section always rotated in that group) for both years of my degree program. The pressure to perform at a level deserving of those positions was unlike anything I'd experienced before. The most difficult thing I accomplished during my tenure at UM was to retain that Symphony Band seat for my second year. Pressure from profs and peers... WHEW! I'm glad to have survived and am certainly better for it.


February 8th, 2010 at 6:43 PM ^

Right now I'm taking EECS 501 (Probability and Random Processes, or something like that), and that's supposed to be really hard, especially since I didn't take the prerequisite EECS 401. It's pretty rough so far. I'm also taking NEUROSCI 570 - Human Neuroanatomy. That's just an absurd amount of memorization.

I had EECS 492 (Intro to AI) last semester, with a new professor. That class was pretty hard, although I ended up doing fine in it.

I think BIO 310 (Intro to Biochemistry) was also pretty tough, but I just might have not put enough time into it.

Tshimanga Cowabunga

February 8th, 2010 at 7:07 PM ^

being a polisci major, I think I worked less in my 4 years than my engineering friends did in 1 semester.

The class I did the worst in had to have been Great Books 192. I thought it fulfilled my upper level writing requirement (it did not) and I had the hardest grading GSI ever. Only class I never got at least an A- on a single paper

PSALM 23 Rod N…

February 8th, 2010 at 7:27 PM ^

My vote goes to any foreign language class that required you to speak that language throughout the class, while getting drunk five nights a week while pledging a fraternity.

"Ich verstehe das nicht" "Noch Einmal Bitte, aber langsam"
"Wie Sagt man auf English?" "


February 8th, 2010 at 7:39 PM ^

I replied to another comment about this but I've got to say that ChemE 487 was the hardest course I took. It was the ChemE senior design class... we had to keep track of our time so when I say that I'd spend 30 hours/week on that BEFORE it got hard then you know that I'm not exaggerating. I had a great group, the best one that I ever had at U of M, but it was insanely tough. I learned a lot, but it was hard.

Also, I found MSE 410- Biomaterials, very very difficult. Part of that was that I had a bad group for the project, part of it was that I suck at memorizing and subsequently suck at Bio, and a lot of it was that the night before the first exam I stayed up until 3:00 studying and woke up half an hour into the exam, by the time I got to North Campus I'd already missed half the exam.

Yeah, it was bad.


February 8th, 2010 at 10:14 PM ^

I didn't think it was that bad, but I was an MSE major, and I think I took it the first time it was offered (the prof was from the Dental school, or something like that).

Anyway, I thought it was very interesting, especially all the materials in implants and that kind of thing.

Durham Blue

February 9th, 2010 at 10:57 AM ^

Who were your prof(s) for ChE487? I can't remember the guys' names that I had but they were ass kickers no doubt. One guy was an MIT grad, old as dirt, white hair, wore bi-focals. He had an uncanny way of staring at you above those bi-focals during presentations. It made an uncomfortable situation nearly unbearable. EDIT: The guy's name was Rane Curl. Wow, it took me all night to remember that one. Drove me nuts.

Ahhh, those were the days. It was difficult but it was fun as HELL. I loved my time at Michigan and miss it very much.


February 8th, 2010 at 7:43 PM ^

It was an LS&A art class, with a prof emeritus, Prendergast, who looked exactly like John Gielgud in "Arthur." He would discuss the work of Paul Klee for five minutes, and then for the remaining two hours, we would artistically interpret a word he had written on the board. We all used crayons. The final was a triptych (three panel drawing) done with markers and crayons, inspired by Paul Klee.

Oops, did I just bring down the US News and World Report ranking??


February 8th, 2010 at 7:52 PM ^

4th semester of the Honors math sequence (295-296-395-396). I think this wins by far in terms of sheer difficulty of the material. It's supposed to be a class for sophomores, but it's closer to a second year graduate course. The year I took the class, it probably would have been considered difficult even as a second year graduate course.


February 9th, 2010 at 9:46 AM ^

Not really serious. It is/was an intro class for non-NERS engineers with Ron Fleming, mostly populated with IOE students. If you did his extra credit assignment you got an A (my only A+ at Michigan).

However, the class average on the midterm was like 25%, the high was 60%, and people were despondent over it. Then again, hard for IOE kids needs to be taken with a grain of salt. EECS kids probably would have got 100% on everything (all of 2 graded exams).


February 8th, 2010 at 8:19 PM ^

Calc II and Orgo probably get that reputation because they are really hard classes, that while not as hard as 400 level classes, are probably a big shock to freshman who take them. I know Calc II was for me, and I took a ton of AP classes in high school and pretty much aced Calc I.


February 8th, 2010 at 8:38 PM ^

What a lot of these classes have in common is how marginal amounts of studying mean nothing.

I have seen EECS, Calc II, Calc III, Diff Eq, and econ 401 all mentioned in this thread, all classes I have personally taken. Some times, I was on the side of things where I could do essentially no work at all and still ace the course, and others I could study all day, yet some other guy was undoubtedly blowing the class off and still getting an A and wrecking the curve.

A lot of the courses are more about how well you fit the curriculum before the syllabus was ever handed out.


February 8th, 2010 at 9:20 PM ^

Second term junior i did well in ME fluids then decided to take the grad level course my first term senior year. Same prof but it didnt take long to realize he didnt like underclassmen in his grad classes.

i worked my ass off then on the final - 4 questions. I couldnt answer one!

After 5 or so minutes he asked the class if anyone wanted a C+ they could turn their papers in now. the other 3 under classmen did. -- smart move.

prof left the room for about 10 minutes then came back and asked if anyone wanted a C

I went for it

30 years later i still think about that final - DAMN that man!!!


February 8th, 2010 at 9:25 PM ^

I don't remember the class name, but I think it was EECS 470 (or something like that). Basically, had to create a processor pipeline from scratch, which sounds easier than it is. Not necessarily the hardest material, but testing was a bitch.


February 9th, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

I took Fluid Mechanics (in the ME dept, I think it was 370) after some brutal 400-level physics classes and thought it was cake in comparison. There was a girl sitting in the front row who stopped lecture one time to ask about the "giant S". The prof couldn't figure out what she was talking about so she walked up to the board and pointed to a integral sign. The professor, incredulous, said it was an integral. She replied, "And we're just supposed to know that?" I knew then I'd be getting an A.


February 8th, 2010 at 10:12 PM ^

For those complaining about Calculus 2, I am currently teaching that class (not at Michigan, sadly), and it is really hard to teach too. It is for the most part repetitive and technical and incredibly difficult to make interesting.
But think of it this way: it is the Barwis workout of math. What everyone really wants to do is play football. But before you can do that, you need to run up and down the stairs of the stadium several thousand times.
To do interesting things in physics or engineering or whatever, you need to not be phased by hairy quantitative problems. One reason Calculus 2 is generally such an ordeal is because it is attempting to whip you into shape for that.


February 8th, 2010 at 10:16 PM ^

I found the hardest class in MSE was the one on electromagnetic properties of materials (I don't remember the number, it was a while ago). It took a lot of the Physics 240 and 242 (which I didn't take) and all that Schrodinger equation crap was confusing.


February 8th, 2010 at 10:54 PM ^

Thermo-fucking-dynamics (MECHENG 235). I know I took the class, but that's about all I can tell you about it.

Unless there are any Structural Engineers in here, I doubt any of you are familiar with CEE 517, Reliability of Structures. This class was a turning point in my life. Before it, I thought I wanted to go in to the Structural aspect of Civil. After it, I went into Construction Management. The coursework was heavy on probability and statistics, of which I had very little exposure. I tried to suck it up but couldn't hack it and ended up with a fat "W" on the transcript.


February 8th, 2010 at 10:53 PM ^

It made the regular old fluid dynamics look like a cupcake course! Surprisingly, all the math courses I took there even, partial differential equations were easy!


February 9th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

I remember having 70% of the class in GGBrown computer lab or 3rd floor Dude at 4am any day within a week of a project being due. SO much of that class was the blind leading the blind, but you make some good friends during times like that. I remember a grad student bringing in like $40 worth of McDonalds breakfast for everyone after an extended session for the final project. A lot of work but ended up with an rare (for me) A.

Durham Blue

February 8th, 2010 at 10:56 PM ^

I am also a member of Alpha Chi Sigma chemistry fraternity.

Hardest class I took at Michigan was ChE 210. That was the weed out class to end all weed out classes, IME. It almost made me want to quit Chemical Engineering. But I toughed it out and went on to finish my B.S. ChE. As it turned out, my job steered me towards an M.S. MechE and I am now working as an M.E. Go figure...

Reading the posts below mine it would seem that the entire Mgoblog community are engineers.