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 9th, 2010 at 12:04 AM ^

EECS 280 sucked. Worst class out of all the EECS courses, hadns down. It was annoying b/c the professors I had sucked, the autograder sucked, and half the class was filled with nerdy kids with tons of prior programming experience who ruined the curve. Once I submitted a program to the autograder and got a 29/100. I took it to the GSI for advice, and after incorporating his comments, the score dropped to a 9/100. Then I took it to another GSI and a professor (it was team taught), and after their help, it didn't compile any more. I promptly dropped that class, retook it, and (barely) passed.

All in all, a lot of classes depended on the professor and the way in which things were taught. For example, I remember Physics 240 being really hard and confusing because the professor and methodology sucked. Then I started the EECS courses and could've blown Physics 240 out of the water. Different way of teaching the same material.

The math courses were pretty easy if you were going into EECS, probably in the same way that 280 was easy for the CS majors. At the end, none of this mattered too much, since I ended up becoming a lawyer anyway.

If you're reading this and are in the EECS program, I'd give you two pieces of advice: 1. It's hard as hell, but stick it out, because it pays off. 2. Each semester, try to take one class outside of EECS (in the humanities, other than the sequence or whatever requirement)--the reason is because you'll be able to meet normal (and more attractive people), you'll be able to stay balanced in things you're interested in, and you'll be able to do really well in other "hard" humanities classes. You'll feel like you got your money's worth, and it will surprisingly make you feel more connected with the University. I majored in EE and minored in PoliSci; I took some of the hardest PoliSci classes. They were cake compared to any EECS course. And UM had (has?) the #1 PoliSci program in the country. The reason I say this is because you have so many interesting opportunities that you won't even realize that you had until you graduate--trust me on that. Stick with EECS, but explore other things to maximize the high UM tuition that you're (presumably) paying.


February 9th, 2010 at 1:07 AM ^

I'd probably have to go with the NERS 590 class I took while still in undergrad (I was one of two undergrads in the class along with 8 or so grads). The semester I took it, it was Stochastic Processes (I think it's one of those classes that changes topics every semester). I'm big into statistical analyses, but damn if that class wasn't an exercise in futility. It was all calculus derivations of the most obscure and mind-numbingly complex statistical equations, but at least the professor (Akcasu, for the record) was very good and willing to help, which happened a lot for everyone.


February 9th, 2010 at 1:21 AM ^

Never too late to pile on a topic.

Intermediate Mechanics.

By far, the most frustrating class I ever took. Like an earlier poster said (about a different class), it's like taking fastball after fastball down the middle, but unable to get the bat off your shoulder.

I scored a 21/100 on the first exam...and it curved to an A-. I considered dropping that class long and hard. Unfortunately, I stuck it out, and it never got any better. There isn't a more dreadful feeling than reading each question on a final exam, flipping each page hoping to find a question that you can at least get some points on, and returning before long to the first page without even putting a pencil to paper.


If you asked me, I couldn't even tell you what that class was about. Figures I spent top money for that kind of "knowledge."

Blue Durham

February 9th, 2010 at 10:23 AM ^

General chemistry, 2nd semester (this was back when a year of general chem was a prerequisite for organic). I think this was Chem 126, and much of what they taught was actually physical chemistry.

All of the exams were multiple choice, an apparently nobody understood anything as the mean was below the guess-rate (which was something like 4 out of 18).

Anyway, the question that virtually nobody got right:

In a sealed room (no heat transfer), there is a refrigerator that is plugged in with the door open. Does the room:

(A) get colder
(B) stay the same temperature
(C) get hotter


May 6th, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

I'll admit that I was a poltical science major, so I never had to deal with these tests where an A is really a 25%. How is that even a legitimate class? If an A-level student is operating at a level of comprehension that is below just marking "C" on everything, is one really learning anything at all?

It seems to me you can't have it both ways. If a class like this is curved, is it really a hard class since the objective is clearly not to actually learn what is being taught?


February 9th, 2010 at 11:22 AM ^

Just saw yours after I added mine. I had Aronson as a prof. One of my classmates went to her office hours for help and she said that providing help to him wouldn't be fair to the other students. He started to break down and begged for help. She told him "That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." He dropped the class.


February 9th, 2010 at 1:23 AM ^

Does a class qualify as hard if 1) you got a decent grade but 2) you look back years later at the work you did (e.g., lab reports) and don't recognize it as anything you possibly could've ever done or understood?


February 9th, 2010 at 6:24 AM ^

For all the architecture grads (and students) reading...

First year design studio is a bear. 6 credits. Late nights from week one of the semester, and the workload only gets tougher as the weeks roll on. The information isn't the hardest I had to deal with, but the workload... oh the workload! Not to mention the constant barrage of soul dong punches that accompany the endless reviews and critiques you are subjected to throughout the semester.

Easily my hardest class. The good news is, you get used to it by your 8th studio (in grad school), and they end up becoming kind of fun.

Feat of Clay

February 10th, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^

My husband (Taubman grad) said that at his orientation, several current students presented on surviving the place. They asked the assembled new faces "How many of you have boyfriends or girlfriends?" and when a few people raised their hands, they just shook their heads and said "you can forget about that lasting."


February 9th, 2010 at 7:34 AM ^

I took it during the summer and had an eastern european professor (with THICK accent) who had parkinsons, so I couldn't understand him or read what he wrote on the board. It was brutal.

Maize and Blue in OH

February 9th, 2010 at 9:29 AM ^

20 years ago, there were 3 different professors teaching Econ 402 and each taught what he thought was important. On the day of the bluebook final, a multple choice scantron portion of the test suddenly appeared. Since nobody had brought pencils to the final, they gave us stubby golf course pencils to fill out the scantron. Turned out that the scantron test was only for information gathering to determine whether there should be one uniform Econ 402 class and was not part of the graded test.


February 9th, 2010 at 9:38 AM ^

Econ 400 something the course was "International Finance" I do believe that it was 453 or something like that. Also Bio-Chem (310) I also thought was a very difficult course.

I personally thought that Orgo 1 & 2 wasn't that difficult and that most of the econ classes weren't terribly hard either (especially the "terrors" 401 and 402).

The actual hardest class taht i ever had was Heat and Mass transfer in Chemical Engineering with Professor lahann. Class was a MONSTER!

Also agree that P-Chem Chem 261 totally sucked a big one.

Blue Durham

February 9th, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

These were thermodynamics classes.

When I took ChemEng 230 (thermodynamics I), there was standing room only in one of the the Angel Auditoriums (they may not be there any longer). There must have been over 400 people signed up. Homework due twice a week, and there were requirements as to the exact size of the paper, where your name and date and assignment went, etc. A friend wrote his on spiral bound (not allowed) and cut off the fringe. Got a 0 as his paper was then 8 3/8 x 11 inches, not 8 1/2. These assignments usually took 5 to 6 hours to complete.

After the midterm, half of the class did so badly that they dropped the course. Half of the remaining class failed, so the department got the number of majors down to what they targeted, about 100.

There were then 2 50-student classes for ChemEng 330 (thermodynamics II), one taught by (I think) Martin, the other by Gulari. I was in Gulari's class. The guy with the highest raw score got a B+. There were 2 B's and 2 B-'s given, all the rest was C's D's and E's.

When I found out the grade distribution, I became quite proud of my C+. But by then, with all of the damage done to my grade point by these course, I had to re-think my med school aspirations.


February 9th, 2010 at 11:18 AM ^

This list starts and ends with Physics 401. It was the weeder class. Seems like every other major was trying to attract students and the physics dept was trying to get rid of as many as possible. Problem sets took a group of 6-8 students 2 days to do and we had means on the exams in the teens. Just brutal.


February 10th, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

Anyone on here have to make a custom computer chip by hand from scratch? This class was the worst of all time. It did get me a job, but I have to say, it was horrifyingly hard.

My friend at work TA'd it in grad school, and he said kids would come to him crying because they couldn't get their designs to work.

When I took it we had a great group and the amount of time spent was deplorable and the subject matter was extremely dense. We had a rule that everytime a team member had to pull an all nighter to finish the project that we'd all do a shot. We ended up saving up all the all-nighters and cashed two bottles of jaeger after finishing the class.


August 26th, 2010 at 1:00 PM ^

I had to chuckle at the few mentions of ME 235 (Thermo).  I remember getting something like a 17% on the second exam....and an A in the class.  The material was difficult, but at least there wasn't anyone out there who could wreck the curve.

Diff EQ was tough for me as well.  I aced Calc 3 somehow, really no trouble at all.  Then Diff EQ blindsided me.  My professor didn't speak English either.

I think for sheer amount of work, ME 395 takes the cake for me.  As someone noted, it was just a bunch or really long lab reports.  Lots of sleeping in the Dude that semester.  The hilarious part was the class had a technical writing portion that was just about equally weighted with the engineering work.  We had these brillant controls professors whose lectures carried the same weight as the tech writing GSIs.  The split for amount of effort the two sections required was about 99/1 weighted for the science, but the grading was 50/50.

Fluid Dynamics (don't remember what the course# was) was probably the hardest conceptually.  Everybody could tell that not even the professor understood Navier-Stokes.  Heavily curved at every turn....

Willy Wonka

November 16th, 2012 at 9:52 AM ^

"Why Do People Believe In Gods?" with Dr. Malley. I took it to finish up my psychology bachelor's as a senior. For such a "philisophical" style psychology course, the content was pretty dense and not really as open to interpretation as the title might suggest.

He also made sure to publicly ridicule you if you missed out on his lectures. Office hours were pretty non-existent and I swear that if you didn't agree with his opinion/views on particular subjects he held extra disdain for you.

Also, he wrote the textbook for the course and constantly touted it as the "bible on religion" (no pun intended). Definitely not the way I wanted to spend my last semester at UM. I ended up with an A but the workload was definitely not neccessary for such a specialized psych course.