Wharton Correspondent: Wharton’s Toughest Class

All Wharton students are required to take roughly nine core classes. Each of these classes serves as an introduction to a different area of business. They include — to name a few — Statistics, Finance, Management, and Marketing classes. Although these classes are listed as introductory, due to their thorough nature, some of them are still the hardest classes I have taken thus far in the university — the hardest of them being Finance 100: Corporate Finance.


Corporate Finance in itself is an amazing course because it introduces its students to all the financial terms and calculations that they would need to know for any future internships or full-time positions in finance. This thoroughness however, proved to be a double-edged sword. Though the content was relevant to what would eventually become my future job, I severely underestimated the depth of the class. Naturally, every class featured the introduction of new material. However, it was so often based on adding additional layers to the previous class’s content, that if one concept went misunderstood, all future learning would be compromised. I too often found myself in this position; misunderstanding one concept often due to my own failure to prepare and then finding myself lost in the subsequent classes. Although I was able to pull myself together for the midterms and finals, I learned lessons regarding surviving tough classes that year that helped me to stay afloat for the remainder of my college experience. 


My first piece of advice: prepare. I know that that is perhaps one of the most mundane and repeated phrases when it comes to giving advice about doing well, but that makes it no less relevant. Preparation is the key to success. The foundation for most of the courses that you need in order to do well can be accessed via the resources made available to you. It is just on you to utilize them.

More specifically, do your assigned readings. When certain professors assign readings prior to class, they serve as an introduction to what they will address in greater depth during the in-class session. This is something that we all know as students but often times may not pay attention to. It is simpler to assume that the professor will go over the assigned material or that you will be able to intuit what was in the book, based on what is taught. My advice, even if the previous holds true, is to still read the text. There is no downside. At best, you will be over-prepared, which is not a problem. At worst, you’ll understand the background regarding class content and thus, even if confused by the lecture, be able to ask questions to clarify. By not preparing for classes, best case scenario, you’ll be able to acquire the content easily. Worst case scenario, however, you will understand nothing and by the following class be severely behind. Therefore, there is no substitute for the combination of readings and attending in-class sessions. I know this rhetoric is an obvious one that we have probably heard repeated time and time again by our teachers and parents. Still, it is no less relevant today and if I can reiterate it once more I will gladly do so.

Study groups are also key to survival. More often than not, there will be individuals in your classes that understand some of the concepts that you do not. There will also be concepts that you understand that others do not. Therefore, collaboration on this front can lead to success for everyone. One thing I have learned at Wharton is that students are more than willing to help each other when asked. Even if someone is confident of their understanding of all the content, their helping you will enable them to study for and become more proficient in the content making them even more willing to help. Long story short: make friends and build your network and, chances are, you’ll find your own grades improving as well.


Camille Calvin is another senior at Wharton, concentrating in Management and Behavioral Economics. Her advice regarding prep for Wharton’s toughest classes is simple: “Do you.” When pressed for an explanation, she explained the reality that found her during the first weeks of her freshman year. That is, we all have a unique style of learning. Some of us learn best in lecture, some learn best upon review, some learn best in study groups. Spend your first semester at school learning the method that is most comfortable for you and then stick to it. if you find that your method is not yielding the desired grades, look for another. But first and foremost, make sure that it is not forced. School was made for us to learn, but also for us to enjoy, so do your best with both. 

Alexis Amanda Malcolm is another senior at Wharton studying Marketing and Environmental Policy and Management. Her advice is two-fold. “Do your best and always get personal takeaways,” she says. Malcolm believes that all accepted students have untapped potential seen in them by the admissions council. It then becomes our duty to simply do our best to meet this potential on a daily basis. Always ensure that there is some takeaway that you can say you surmise from each class. Even if it is hard and even if you don’t particularly enjoy it. The toughest classes were designed to give us a broad understanding of most of the areas of business. Therefore, even if your grade is not the best, make sure that you understand the overarching concepts and have done your absolute best always. From there you will be fine.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.