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My rant

daigo

Member
Jun 27, 2012
60
I started college late, but I still behave like a child before my first day of classes, meaning I have trouble sleeping the night before because I am too excited about learning, especially maths/science. When I do well in my classes, I feel even more encouraged to study harder and learn more, and I feel very happy every day.

But lately, the material as I rise through the more advanced classes, is becoming more and more difficult (as I expected it) and I am feeling angrier and frustrated every day when I put in 10-14 hours daily for studies, and I barely pass with a 'C' mark. Some people say I that might be studying too much or I am burning out, but I don't feel that way, plus I don't have any interest in anything else besides what I study. As noted, I enjoy my studies and schoolwork very much almost to the point of it being "playtime" and my entire social life consists of discussing maths/science.

I've considered changing my major, but if I do that, I won't be able to return to school for several years because it will take a few years of working at McDonald's before I can pay for another semester of school, and I don't know if I can handle flipping burgers 10 hours a day for the next few years to make ends meet without being able to study anything all day. I'd probably burn out from that, not from studying too much.

Anyway, I am doing my best to not be discouraged even though I still don't understand some material from school I've learned long ago, not matter how long I study it. I guess I will have to learn to deal that I just cannot learn some things no matter how much time and effort I put into it...the tricky part will be to identify these topics before I spend two weeks studying the same topic and falling behind two weeks of schoolwork/topics because I still don't understand that one topic.
 

Ackbach

Indicium Physicus
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,193
Just remember one thing: grades (marks, for you Brits) are extremely over-rated. I work in industry right now, and I can tell you that no one cares what my grades were in school. They care about whether I get the job done or not. Being able to get the job done depends on more things than academic success. Understanding, which is what is sounds like you're after, is much more important, and does matter in the workplace as well as academia.

I would encourage you to talk with your professors. It sounds to me like you suffer from the same problem I did: the pace of school is too fast (or broad) and at the same time not deep enough. I've been pushing myself through some learning (differential equations and Latin) at my own pace, and it's so much more thorough! See if your professors can look at their course syllabi and point out some topics that are more peripheral.

Forgive me for offering advice, but it did seem a little as though you might have been requesting it. Some other tips you may or may not find useful (or even applicable):

1. Take one day off per week and study absolutely nothing. Make it the same day each week, if you can. This one tip will almost surely guarantee that you won't burn out. People are not made to work constantly for extended periods of time (such as a semester). This is an article of faith: step out and do it! Your overall productivity during a week will go up, not down.

2. Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, preferably the same 8 hours of sleep every night. Your brain makes connections while you sleep, and the mind-body connection is rather strong.

3. Watch what you eat. Keep sugar down, especially. Don't overdo it on caffeine, either. If, like me, you have a textbook case of the circadian rhythm, then maybe a cup of coffee at lunch time is a good idea. Try not to depend on caffeine for everything!

4. Keep video games and TV-watching down as well. They're just time-wasters and brain-eaters.

5. Get regular exercise. You should do a rigorous exercise at least three times a week. Don't forget all components of fitness: a. Diet b. Flexibility c. Aerobic d. High-resistance low-repetitions (as in weight lifting) e. low-resistance high-repetitions (as in circuit training).

6. Get outside some. It's the most amazing thing, but you might find that being outside and seeing trees and grass might stimulate your thinking.

These are lifestyle changes, I recognize. People are in different places in life. But I think these are generally beneficial.

Have fun!
 

daigo

Member
Jun 27, 2012
60
Undergraduate grades are very important to people such as myself, intending to apply to graduate schools...naturally I'd like to attend the best, not only because I'll have an easier time getting job interviews with a brand name doctorate's (in addition to the same experience and credentials of those who hail from "lower-tier" schools), but they have more funding for their research (which means higher stipends) and better labs/equipment than the schools who cannot afford certain technology. Of course then, I wouldn't be so concerned about my grades in grad school since they don't matter as much, and as you've stated, most employers won't be asking for your college transcripts.

The advice is appreciated, though I don't believe some of them can be applicable in my situation, but I hope they may help others who may be reading this thread.

For the breaks/taking time off; I've tried that before, but I've found that in my position, I gain much more insight and understanding with 1 hour's worth of studying as opposed to something like 1 hour of going out into nature. Similarly, this can be applied to taking a day off...my performance actually declines if I take too much consecutive hours off. I forget everything I've learned in the past few days (I completely blank on everything).

My diet is something I don't really have too much control over, as I'm limited to what foods I can receive from local soup kitchens and pantries since I don't have time to work (lest I'd be willing to sacrifice even more grades than what I can already afford). I don't eat so much, so this results in me sleeping for a little longer than 8 hours every night. I don't know if too much sleeping can be bad for your health, though. Maybe I can try and make room for some exercise.