A student once complained about my English Composition class and we had a long conversation. She said she had homework every night (that is, she was working more than apparently she was used to) and she was “struggling.” She had no particular complaints other than the class was hard; she did not have a learning disability; but she seemed to think “struggling” in general was a bad thing.

Her words still echo in my head because I remember getting a Twilight-Zone feeling: she’s struggling in college? How is that unexpected? I struggled in many or most of my college classes, as others have and continue to do – I wanted to say “join the club.” You struggle, and you work through it: study more, study differently, seek a tutor; do what you need to do to master the material. But clearly, this student understood “struggle” to be a bad thing, and a problem with my class.

Struggle is not bad. On the contrary, struggle is necessary and important.

You can expect that college coursework will be difficult. Expect to struggle, even to get frustrated; accept that you will make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process, and yes, it builds character.

In fact, the trait of grit has been shown to predict success. (See studies of Dr. Angela Duckworth for more information.) One aspect of grit is perseverance in the face of obstacles; as Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” So accept, even embrace, struggle and work through it; always keep your goals in sight. People with these habits and this mindset are likely to succeed.