Hard classes

Revision as of 13:11, November 11, 2005 by AVanRhyn (talk | contribs)

Because some people just like a challenge.

Arth 101-102

Unless you really like memorization, this class is quite hellish. The lectures are great, but the memorization -- five facts for each slide -- is a lot of work. Also, since virtually no one has written an art history paper before (at least no one who is taking 101-102) you just write the papers like regular papers, and it turns out that art history papers are supposed to be totally different, and since there are only two papers in the semester, it's hard to improve much.

Estimated weekly workload: 5 hours

Organic Chemistry

It seems hard for me to imagine this page to be complete without listing one of William's most painful classes. Organic Chemistry takes two semesters to complete, and is taken the spring of one year, followed by the fall of the next. So, even stucturally the class is difficult, but I'll get to that in a bit.

The first semester of Organic (Shortend to orgo here, and o-chem at most other schools)is basically learning the bare-bones basics of organic chemistry, analogous to learning the alphabet of a new language, and logically the second semester builds on the knowledge creating paragraphs and papers of this alphabet (to continue the analogy). Now notice how I made the jump from alpha-bet to papers over a summer; this is basically how it feels. And, of course, this is not to say at all that learning the basics of organic chemistry is easy. Quite the contrary, the basics are very memorization based, there is no way around it. This memorization becomes even more of a hinderance when you arive the fall of the next semester and realize that you have forgotten everything. Of course, there is hardly a day of review, it would be impossible though to review more, there is far too much material to get into the semester. Thus the first month of that second semester of orgo is really a blind, frantic scramble to remember what the previous semester entailed, while trying to to understand complex reaction mechanisms which apear to happen almost by magic.

However, if you can get though that, the rest of the semester should be only regular hard. Of course, this is all in addition to the lab section in which you are given three unknown samples (two of which are mixed together) which you are supposed to purify, analyze, and identify using the methods learned the semester before, and some new techniques as well.

Workload: Bi-weekly problem sets: three hours (usually done over two-four days)
Tests (four over the course of the semester)- usually between 10-24 hours of studying
Regular reading-1-2 hours (usually two-three reading assignments during the week)
Lab prep-1 hour
Melt-temp- 30minutes to i hour 30
Lab- 4 hours
Lab report*- 8 hours or so per report except the third, which is a short work sheet.
  • Or for the chem masochist, there is the extra lab-hard lab section (255). Be prepared for about two hellish consecutive all-nighters for both the (ungraded) rough draft and final 60+ page book that is your lab report. But not having to do pre and post labs is so deliciously tempting...

Chem 342: Synthetic Organic Chemistry

For those with enough testicular fortitude, this class is interesting but the workload is constant and makes intro orgo look rather pale by comparison. Getting through this class with a decent grade is a blessing bestowed upon few. With Smith its a whole new world of pain, he's a great prof and helps out a lot but with:

Weekly Problems sets averaging 6-8 hours as a minimum; Two "6 hour" take-home midterms that would frighten the bravest chemist; Labs that range from 4 to 8 hours long of actual in lab time; Running Spectral Instruments (outside of lab) 1 hour; Spectral Analysis and lab prep that take about an hour; Lab Reports that take approx 40-50 hours to write up....

This class is no joke. But if you're willing to get your ass kicked for a semester the knowledge imparted upon you is vast and powerful...for you shall become an Organic Chem Lord...

Greek 101-102

It's not the work itself that's hard, it's the sheer amount of it for a 101 language course. You have to learn enough grammar to read Xenophon and Euripides by spring (which is, by the way, totally worth it).

Math 346

Topology is hard. And the final exam is really hard, definitely nothing like what is in class. Since the textbook (Munkres -- pretty much the only topology textbook in existence) is created for a two-semester graduate school course, and this class covers it in one semester as a 300-level course, you have to skip a lot, so it's hard to know what to review in the textbook. Also, there are very few examples, and a lot of long proofs, and almost no illustrations.

Estimated weekly workload: 10 hours

Math 401

a.k.a Functional Analysis With Applications to Mathematical Physics

Functional Analysis (FUN henceforth) is like Topology (MATH 346 –see above for description) on steroids. This is to say that if you have taken Topology, FUN is relatively manageable, since you build on the knowledge obtained. If you have not taken Topology before taking FUN, let’s just say that you are in for an interesting experience.

Of course, a question emerges: if Topology and FUN are so hard, why bother taking them? Well, I guess that one needs to have a certain masochistic streak in himself/herself to take these classes; that, and it really counts a lot for Math/Econ/Physics grad schools.

On the plus side, Functional Analysis has been known, in the Budapest math program, to be called Fun Anal. It is rumored that this abbreviation alone is reason enough to take the course.

Estimated weekly workload: 12+ hours

Any physics tutorial

Goodbye weekend, hello problem set. For the masochistic physics major in all of us.

Estimated weekly workload: 12-15 hours

Japanese 101-102

Many will enter, few will get through 102. Japanese 101-102 would easily be the biggest weeder on campus, except that the upper-level classes don't exactly get easier. For the first two years, the class is two classes' worth of scheduled meetings, and even thereafter it holds two classes' worth of homework time. Skills required include rote memorization, ability to quickly adapt to deeply bizarre material, the ability to not snicker at conversation videos, and the ability to assimilate grammar without ever having it explained. (Part of this class is called the "lecture" section. Despite this, there will never be a lecture.) On the plus side, if you can survive it, the Japanese language courses will teach you a lot, and every other department will seem easy in comparison.

Estimated weekly workload: 10-15 hours