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Feel like I'm hitting a wall

  1. Mar 19, 2015 #1
    I'm a first year physics major, and I feel like I'm hitting a wall in physics. I have been doing well in physics so far, even though I have been studying more and more and I just feel like I am hitting a wall and not learning anything. Even though I still like physics a lot, I'm losing the motivation to study and keep up. Every exam I take I do well on(I'm averaging a B) but it seems like everyone I talk to is doing better. Any advice?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2015 #2
    I don't think you should first spend time comparing yourself to others, but focus more on improving yourself. You are losing motivation to study and keep up, why? Are you having trouble understanding the topics in class? Do you go to office hours and talk to your professor? Do you attend TA sessions or work with other people?

    Maybe try one of the above and see what happens. How do you study for physics? Maybe you might have to change the way you study to understand it better.

    Good luck! You can do it!
  4. Mar 19, 2015 #3

    Quantum Defect

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    Don't focus on hwo others are doing. Focus on learning the material. The more that you get the material "into your bones" the less problems you will have with surprises. I found as an undergrad that it was also important to make time for things like exercise and fun with friends. I believe that people studying how people learn difficult things find that time away from difficult problems can actually help people with coming up with solutions. When you feel like you are digging a hole to nowhere, it sometimes helps to get out of the hole and look around.

    Some of my best memories from undergrad days are being stuck on something, and stepping away from it for an hour or so, to take a walk in the arboretum that was near our campus. When I returned to the work, I had renewed energy, and sometimes a fresh insight.

    ... but just make sure to note the operating hours for your arboretum so you don't have to make your way over the barbed wire fence when you discover that you have been locked in!
  5. Mar 19, 2015 #4


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    Not knowing how your individual mind works, I can only give some broad advice.
    Being only one person's worth of experience, you should take my advice at your own risk.

    The first year of physics is often the hardest.
    It certainly was for me, even though I'm now headed for a Ph. D. (in physics) and freshman physics was nearly a decade ago.
    Freshman physics is the class where you really first learn how to "do" physics, as opposed to memorizing hundreds of different formulae for different situations.

    As far as approaches to study goes, I would try to keep focused on the fundamental concepts (of which there are few), and see how those concepts are realized in your homework problems and readings. Once you have done enough to understand how the concept works, you should be able to solve physics problems you've never seen before.

    Depending on where you go, I would make sure to go to the recitations and workshops, as physics is best learned by doing (with a helpful grad student/professor to answer questions). They are here to answer your questions (presumably you're paying them to one way or another), so you should ask early and ask often.
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