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Bored to death and need help

  1. Jun 13, 2008 #1
    I used to be an extremely good student in grade 8, top in my grade in the sciences, and pretty darn good at math. I won every single academic award available to my grade. Grade 9 was similar...but I was already beginning to burn out.

    Grade 10, I got a new "kickstart", because I had this superb teacher for my science course. He wouldn't waste time explaining tiny,simple details again and again, instead he would teach us the stuff nice and quick, and then tell us interesting things about what we were learning. Some of those interesting things would be the history behind the science we were learning, interesting applications, etc. He always focused more on concepts, problem solving, deriving equations, etc. then on plug and chug bulllgarbage.He would always give us constant challenges in class, by asking us questions frequently on what we were learning, and his problem sets were lame pieces of crap meant for rote memorization. They were...not boring. I did extremely well.

    Grade 11 came, and I still had that enthusiasm in me, but by the end I was pretty burned out.

    Grade 12: I happened to get that same science teacher I had in grade 10 for physics. It's the only course in this year I've done extremely well in, and put in a lot of effort in. It was the only class on my schedule that I actually looked forward to. Math, I have this extremely slow teacher (not slow intelligence-wise, but in teaching style), and although he's a nice guy, he bored me to death. I skipped his classes a lot. Still ended up getting 90 something, but I could have gotten much higher. Chemistry, don't even get me started on how much I HATED that class. The teacher told my parents to tell me to stop asking questions that were out of the curriculum, and focus more on what I was learning. After that happened, I spent my time playing and talking with my friends in class continously, even while she was teaching. She hates me now...understandably. Got a low 90 in that class too. Good, but not as good as know I could have, and should have done. So yea, pretty much everything was like that. Calculus was even worse, I gave up...ended up with a mid 70 mark in that course.

    Even though I got good grades in high school, it was all really just rote memorization cramming crap, except for physics (I loved that class well enough to spend time to actually understand the concepts). I happened to be good at cramming on the last day before the test, and still acing it, and that's what I did for every class except for my physics one. I know it won't work in university though.

    I've gotten into a prestigious university program, the best one in the country...it promises to keep us challenged to the death, and they'd like to teach students who want to learn the concepts/principles/proofs behind what they're learning, as well as just learning the standard stuff. I'm very excited about it. But....

    I'm afraid I'm not properly prepared for it. I don't really have a good, strong understanding, of any subject, except for physics. Even worse, I've ended up developing a lot of bad habits (zero organization, no study plan when I'm trying to learn something, EXTREME laziness...a dread of doing any sort of homework....procrastination), that I'm finding extremely hard to cope with...and they even impeded my physics studies.

    I bet I could have done a lot better in physics, than I have, even though I got the best mark in my class. In previous years, physics students in our school have been known to do very well in national, and international competitions. I did nothing of the sort. What's worse...I didn't even try. I hated school so much, I wasted my time as much as I could.

    We had our graduation ceremony last week, and it was one of the most depressing experiences I've had. I didn't win a single award, not even the lowest ones, which are easy to achieve. I got nothing. My parents were there, that's why I felt depressed. They are immigrants, they had high hopes for me. I feel like I disappointed them...broke their trust.

    A number of my friends got awards. Friends I often help out with homework. It was ridiculously shameful...maybe I'm just overly proud, and overestimating my abilities. I don't know.

    All I do know is this: I rightfully didn't get an award. I know I don't deserve one. That's why I feel even worse, because of these horrible habits I have developed in regards with my studies. It's like I'm addicted to...not improving myself. How horrible is that?

    I promised myself, that I'm gonna do extremely well in university, the night of my graduation ceremony, as I was sleeping in bed...feeling depressed in general. I'm not aiming for awards or anything, I'm just going to do the best I can, like I did in grade 8. I assured myself that I would find that same "fire" for learning that I had then.

    I have an entire summer in front of me. I'm going to use it well, and try and understand chemistry and math well.

    But I don't know where to begin. I guess I'm kinda knew to the self-learning "scene". And that's what I really wanted to ask here...the "climax" of this thread if you will, is simply this:

    Do you guys have any tips on how to go about what I'd like to do? I'm sure you have experience on self-learning yourself, how did you go about it? How did you keep your interest "burning"? What resources did you really love using? What should I take care of on my journey?

    Another thing, I've noticed that there are quite a lot of teachers/professors on this thread, and many of you guys (lisab, davidsomething, etc.) have posted some wonderful and genuinely helpful study tips...I've started writing them down...if any of you guys have even more, could you please post them here? I plan on writing them all down. One massive compendium. Maybe we can sticky it later on :p

    Lots of questions. I'm sorry if I've been really confusing, I'll try and clarify if need be.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2008 #2


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    Sorry to hear you're feeling down and confused, ClopClop.

    Have you been sleeping well? People your age usually don't get enough sleep, and chronic sleep deprivation is really hard on a person's well-being.

    You seem to have a really bad case of "Senior-itis." Maybe you're just really, really ready to move on with your life but you're a bit intimidated by the prospect of going to a top-notch school. Use that feeling to your advantage - to do really well, and don't let your tendancies to procrastinate get in the way.

    And don't worry about the awards. In high school, those can be reduced to popularity contests, and I doubt they correlate to success or happiness in life.

    Does the school you're going to have place on the web to meet incoming students (facebook or a school blog site)? Meeting your fellow students might make you feel better.

    Hang in there!
  4. Jun 13, 2008 #3
    I couldn't agree more with Lisa about senioritis. I think you'd be surprised just how many students suffer from that. God knows I did.

    Not to mention, your school accepted you because they thought you not only were able to do well, but because they know you will. I know a lot of kids who went through high school under achieving, because it seemed cool, but as long as you get yourself back on track, you'll be just fine. College forces one to work hard, so either you change your lifestyle so you can succeed, or you don't. Most intelligent students like yourself chose the former.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2008
  5. Jun 14, 2008 #4
    Don't try to force passion for math and science. Study subjects this summer because they interest you, not because you want to make them interest you. You might find inspiration reading about histories great achievements in physics, or perhaps about the physicists themselves. Likewise, see what sort of research is done in a field of interest at your future school. Search for something you are curious about on Wikipedia, and take every link of a term you do not understand.

    Do not worry about your preparedness for college. The necessary skills to draw from high school are proficiency in reading, writing, and basic math. Freshman year also tends to be a trial in time management and responsibility, rather than academic rigor.

    A personal suggestion to you (to which I hope you take no offense) is to not hide behind the excuse of the course being too slow. There will be many times when your determination and focus will be pressed more than your intellect.
  6. Jun 14, 2008 #5

    matt grime

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    Rather than just trying to understand some subject in mathematics, how about trying to understand what makes mathematics, and mathematicians tick as well. I'd suggest Gowers's VSI to mathematics (and his web page at dpmms.cam.uk) and Polya's 'How to solve it'. Gardiner's mathematical recreations books are usually good fun, and at a way more advanced level Bollabas has written a book on recreational mathematics (but it's the sort of recreational mathematics a graduate mathematician might do - often the problems presume a very high level of prior knowledge).
  7. Jun 14, 2008 #6
    That's exactly the sort of stuff I'm looking for! Thank you so much! :!!) However, the link "dpmms.cam.uk" does not seem to work.

    What I really want to learn is what makes these things work, and how real mathematicians, physicists and engineers actually approach and think about their subjects.
  8. Jun 14, 2008 #7
    I believe he meant dpmms.cam.ac.uk. Gowers' home page appears to be here.
  9. Jun 14, 2008 #8
    No, I don't think I'm suffering from sleep deprivation. I do get a minimum of 7 hours a sleep a day. On most days, I get 8-9.
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