Olin Correspondent: Olin’s Hardest Classes

Olin Business School’s Simon Hall

What does MGT100, MEC290, and ACCT2610 all have in common? From an outsider, these may just seem like a series of letters and numbers — but to an Olin student, they are some of the hardest courses they will take. After conducting a survey, these courses were the ones coming up again and again. Most of these courses make up the schedule of an Olin student their first year at school, so Olin students are given a taste of the real business world as soon as they step foot in a classroom.

These three courses — Individual in a Managerial Environment, Microeconomics, and Principles of Financial Accounting — give Olin students a well-rounded introduction to business. For someone who is unfamiliar with all things business, these courses are definitely an adjustment. Personally, my only experience with business before coming to WashU was a high school course appropriately named Intro to Business. However, I didn’t get my true intro to business until I took MGT100 the first semester of my freshman year.

Here’s a rundown of the courses Olin students view as the hardest.


Lots of firsts happen in MGT100 — first Olin exam, first time working in groups, first case competition. All extremely important to the growth of an Olin student, but all of these things hitting a freshman at once can be overwhelming. This course does what my high school course could not. It gives a thorough overview to what “business” is all about. From how markets work to business strategy to corporate social responsibility. A sophomore at Olin explains, “I never took an Econ class before and there was so much math.” In the end, students saw the value of this course by using all their gained knowledge in a case competition. This course also allows students to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie which is helpful when declaring their major (or majors) sophomore year.


Three years ago, I took this class and three years ago I labeled this the hardest class I would ever take at Olin. I still stand by that statement three years later. In high school I had taken Macroeconomics, so I figured this class shouldn’t be an issue, it would just be slightly different. I was wrong. There were so many Greek letters written on the board, I thought I was at sorority recruitment. As the class went on, I found the people that “got it” and sometimes just a different person explaining something is enough to understand something. A junior in Olin explains, “[I] found some friends to struggle through the class with.” While this class was difficult, it taught myself and others to speak up when we didn’t understand something and try different methods to prepare for the exams.  


Accounting is often called the language of business. For many Olin students, this language was completely foreign. A sophomore at Olin shares, “It was easy to get lost in the technicalities and exceptions … and not be able to get out of the rabbit hole.” Although this class was difficult, many students make career-altering changes because of this class. A senior at Olin realized he wanted to pursue a career in accounting after taking this course. Another student became a TA (teaching assistant) for the class and formed a close relationship with his professor. And as another senior puts it, “Accounting is really important to understand for all disciplines of business. If you are going to put in a lot of effort, this is definitely the class to do it in.”

There you have it — the hardest classes at Olin as told by someone who has gone through them all. Were you surprised by this list? Let us know in the comments below!