(off-topic) What is the hardest class to take in University that is designed to weedout from the major

In my personal opinion, the weed-out courses I can ever think off are:

  1. Mechanical Engineering (Engineering Statics, Engineering Dynamics, Mechanics of Solids, Thermodynamics 1, Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, Mae 376 Applied Math)
  2. Civil Engineering (Structural Analysis 1 and 2, Soil Mechanics)
  3. Electrical Engineering (Circuit Analysis I, Physics 2 Electromagnetism, Physics 3, and Intermediate Mechanics)
  4. Engineering and Math Core Classes (Linear Algebra 1, Diff Eq, Discrete Math, and Partial Diff Eq)
  5. Chemical Engineering (Physical Chem 1 and 2)
  6. Premed, and Bioengineering (Evolutionary Biology, Organic Chem 1 and 2, Biochem)
  7. Physics (Quantum Mechanics 1 and 2)
  8. Computer Science (CS 1 and 2, Data Structures, CSE 220 Systems Programming)

For my experience I had more difficult time with Statics, and CS 1 and 2 classes, especially my CS professor was not that great. Please feel free to share which class was hardest, and weed-out class in your universities. I am currently taking Diff eq, Linear Algebra, Mechanics of Solids, and Dynamics and I am kinda worried about those 3 classes as they are notoriously difficult in my university.


Organic Chem.


Orgo is the ultimate weedout course for premeds


Lots of these courses are not designed to be weed-out courses, but are just relatively difficult courses, or courses which show the students that the major may be different from what they previously imagined.

“Weed-out” is better used to refer to one of these situations:

  • The major admits more students than it has capacity for, and natural attrition does not shrink enrollment to be within capacity, so academic standards higher than C grades and 2.0 GPA are used to remove additional students from the major. This is common in direct-admission nursing majors, but can also be found elsewhere, such as engineering majors at the University of Wisconsin (Madison).
  • The major has limited capacity relative to student demand, and undeclared students must meet a higher academic standard than C grades and a 2.0 GPA to enter the major, or entry to major requires another competitive admission process based on college record. This is common in engineering and CS majors at popular state flagships and some other colleges of similar selectivity.
  • Other goals which require high grades/GPA and/or competitive admission, such as pre-med.

In all of the above cases, all courses which may be used for the weed-out requirements or competition can be called “weed-out courses”. Yes, for pre-med students, all courses are “weed-out courses” (although biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses are even more important).


For premed Chem 1 and 2 took out the low hanging fruit. Organic Chem took out the rest.


I have 2 kids in college… D18 took a General Chemistry I for majors class at her university and 40% of that class did not sign up for Gen Chemistry for Majors II (all chem majors have to sign up for that class). She has also taken Orgo for Chem majors I & II and Physical Chem I and is now in Physical Chem II. Orgo II was her toughest course.

S20 has taken or is in 5 of the classes on your list (Physics 2, Discrete Math, Diff Eq, CS1, and CS2 so far in his freshman year and he would say that his Freshman English was his hardest class (although Physics 2 is going to be some work this semester). 1/4 of the Electrical/Computer Engineering majors did not take the 2nd Intro to Engineering for Electrical/Computer Engineers class at his institution.

I think your list is too far along in some academic disciplines as most students seem to get weeded out/ or figure out what they really want to do in year 1 from my experience.


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My chem e daughter thought calc 2 and 3 were the most challenging to get As in because of the grading rubrics. LA and Diff EQ were easier for her.

Thermo, Fluids, Seps, and Reactions are all known to be tough courses at her school but certainly not “weed out” courses in the traditional definition.

It’s been my impression that most schools are not looking to weed out students but to help them succeed. We didn’t hear anywhere the “look left, look right and those students won’t be here” comments we did back in the day.

It may not be said out loud, but “hard” majors (e.g. engineering majors) where admission to the college (and major if applicable) is less selective are likely to have this phenomenon as students leave the major due to the difficulty of the course work.

Of course, that can also apply to places where intentional weeding-out is done to reduce the oversized admitted cohort to be within department capacity (e.g. many direct-admit nursing majors).

The schools we looked at all said that they screened during the admission process, not afterwards.

They were lying

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Here are some examples of post-admission weed-out policies:

I don’t believe any courses are specifically designed to weed people out. It’s just that they’re hard. Two classes that come to mind immediately are organic chemistry and data structures.

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Organic Chem. It was much harder than BioChem. Organic was much more difficult than any course I took in med school. And I never used a single bit of it.

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That is crazy. I am surprised that 3.5 core GPA is necessary for UW Madison engineering program. This college’s engineering program might be competitive then. I do not know if engineering classes are curved or not for UW Madison. In my university, engineering professor does not curves any courses, unless the highest grade in the course falls below 70.

H Math 55

Weed-out courses and hardest courses aren’t the same things. Organic chem is considered a weed-out course for pre-meds because it’s among the hardest course they have to take. They don’t have to take quantum mechanics or abstract algebra. The basic CS courses are actually trivial but they’re used as weed-out courses because there’re too many unqualified students in these classes.

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The wheels turn slowly so I’m sure “weed out courses” haven’t changed much. Our pharmacy (already accepted to the program) class were supposed to take a micro biology or biochem class (can’t remember which) and it was a weed out class for med students. The pharmacy college pulled all of us out of the course and started their own class for us.
No need to fail out students already accepted to the program! Fun times!

Back then 2 of 3 quarters of Organic Chem was required to get into Pharmacy school (which was plenty!) but I know the reason was the third quarter was THE cut throat (and I heard horrible stories about labs) weed out class for med students.

Chem classes (only certain levels) have always been weed outs-- I had 300 students first quarter in my class, 150 the second quarter and less than a 100 the third quarter. It was a known weed.

Weed-out courses for limited-enrollment majors are generally the lower level courses that are taken before declaring the major. However, in some cases, weeding-out is done because there are too many qualified (as opposed to unqualified) students compared to the department’s capacity.

For pre-meds, all courses are weed-out courses, since they all count for overall GPA used in medical school applications. Biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses are extra-important, since there is also a science GPA used in medical school applications. (Obviously, a pre-med who is a physics or math major may take quantum mechanics or abstract algebra.)

I my school, abstract algebra, and real analysis is two of the courses which is limited to the students that got accepted to math program. In order to get into math program, students are required to maintain 3.0-3.33 averages in calculus sequences, diff eq, linear algebra, and partial diff eq.

I agree with momofsenior1 above, based on both my and my daughter’s experience in ME. Most people realizing engineering wasn’t for them came early - Calc, Physics, especially DiffEq.

Once you got to classes in your major, most students stick it out. Fluids and Thermo were probably the toughest in the major, but most kids grind through it.

From my CS friends, the weed-out classes were Data Structures and Algorithms. (If you want to give an older CMU CS grad flashbacks, just whisper “211 and 212”.)

For my future wife, a Chemisty major, “OChem and PChem” were deadly terms.

My ChemE weed-out was freshman Intro To ChemE. We had a multiple week assignment that got progressively more complicated, from discrete to continuous flow, culminating with “and that’s fundamentally what ChemE is about” from the professor. I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do, even with an A in the class, and switched to MechE.