People pursue college for different reasons. Some go to gain knowledge or training to prepare for a career, others want to earn credentials, and there are those who go for the joy of learning and "having a degree."  While the reason for making the decision to go to college will vary from student to student, one common thing college students have is the desire to reach their set goals.

Every educational journey is a personal one, and the results a student gains depends upon what he or she makes of the experience. And the coursework a person chooses to study helps shape what he or she will get out of an education too.

Selecting and registering for your classes is a great opportunity to spread your wings. 

Geese flying
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As many colleges are now in full swing for fall registration, it is a good idea to carefully think about what types of courses you select. Not only will you want to make sure you don’t make any mistakes and sign up for classes that do not apply to your degree, you also want to consider the overall courseload you carry. You don’t want it to be too overwhelming, but a little challenge never hurt anyone either.

If you have made the decision to go to college to pursue some individual growth as part of your educational experience and not just cruise through your coursework to "get the piece of paper", selecting some difficult courses in your schedule often comes with many advantages.

There are many terrific reasons why selecting difficult courses can enhance your educational experience. Here are a few of the benefits you can gain from taking those tougher classes:


If you love a challenge, taking a tough course, or two or three, will be right up your alley. Some young adults need to have challenges, else they get bored. (And for some, boredom can lead to getting into trouble or can create a lack of incentive).  If this is you, taking hard classes not only helps you to push your own limits, you may find taking these classes leads to a discovery of new abilities you might not have previously known you possessed. 1

The knowledge attained will be long-lasting and, while the easy "A" is nice and boosts a GPA, in the long-term it won't offer the same benefits as that same "A" received for doing strenuous coursework. Not only do you push yourself to thrive, you also are rewarded with the knowledge you'll acquire as opposed to simply nabbing the easy grade. (Not to mention taking tough courses and balancing the work will probably increase your time management skills).

Gain Valuable Critical Thinking Skills

It is hard to land a job and succeed at it when the time at college was spent dabbling in easy coursework. While the strong GPA looks nice, if these good grades were attained from non-challenging work, your education likely won’t carry over into real-life situations or decision-making. Tough classes that make you think will better prepare you to take on real-life problems and solutions that will occur during your career or other life situations.

Literature textbooks
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Transfer Credits

If you plan to immediately transfer to another school or if you plan to pursue another degree down the road, taking demanding classes will look great on a transcript! Not only will harder courses look impressive, going the more challenging route in your degree program will well prepare you to take classes in an upper level degree program. (Occasionally employers will also ask to take a look at transcripts; in this case you'll dazzle them with your tenacity to do well in tough courses).

University campus
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved


Completion of thought-provoking courses gives a great sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction of a job well done. While the easy grade looks attractive and can be pretty tempting, unless you’ve taken the tough road, you won’t know what an exhilarating feeling it is to know you've achieved more than just the minimum requirements. This sense of pride can be a real morale booster and motivator when it comes to pursuing a college degree.

Building Blocks

Successfully finishing a tough class makes it easier to learn other concepts in other courses. Often a hard class will make the others seem much easier in comparison and you'll effectively grasp other ideas without difficulty because you've established a strong foundation.

The benefits of taking a few courses that offer a degree of complexity can stretch far. The ideas, thinking and analysis skills to be gained in these harder classes are many and, in the end, will enhance your overall learning experience. Sure, there might be some mistakes along the way , but these too are learning experiences. All these experiences, both good and bad, add to your education and life experience.

When planning your semester’s schedule, why not look to include a few tough classes in the mix? You never know how it might set you on a strong path to take flight and soar.

[ Related reading: Planning Your College Exit and Entering the 'Real World' ]