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Freshman, few queries

  1. Mar 9, 2008 #1
    Hello All,

    I've been a periodic reader of this forum. Just thought of posting a thread for opinions from you guru's.

    Okay here goes ...

    I'm doing my 1st year of Electrical Engineering. Every class in Physics, I question myself if I really have what it takes to continue ... I find the labs of every science that I take really confusing I need to spend ages figuring them out while others can do it less easily.

    I don't think I'm a person who memorizes stuff, atleast I'd want to believe not to ... however, after I learn something it becomes unfamiliar really soon maybe even in 2 months time. Well not everything like C++ programming sticks with you cause its just a build-up of the basics but that not true for Physics where we do magnetism, electrostatics etc ... I do agree that there is a build-up connection like an electric current produces magnetic field, but they are unique among themselves ... the formula's I derive for the electric field due to an infinately long wire / plane or E field of a ring / sphere ... I forget their derivations as well as the forumla's when I come to magnetism where I derive the magnetic field of an infinately long wire or a ring.

    I work hard I guess, but not smart... I procrastinate alot, waste a lot of time just thinking about non-sense when I should be studying and in the end it shows in my grades. I honestly don't remember much of the things I did in high-school so I have to spent a lot of time learning it again properly. Only thing I have been able to cope up in university until now is Maths, that to with some effort. Yet again, I feel that what I am learning is slowly leaking away. Could you PLEASE suggest a method where I could retain these things longer?

    I've heard that all engineers have to do a 4th year design project based on the knowledge they acquire through courses ... I'm really afraid that the way I am going now ... I won't really know anything and I would have to re-learn a lot just to complete my project.

    I always suffer from this feeling that I'm an idiot and know nothing, sometimes I sit in class and wonder why I even go to them ... cause I don't really understand much of anything taught , its only when I come home and read the text that I actually understand. Recently I've begun taking my textbook to class and learning stuff from it while the prof. is teaching ... I know if I read before and then attended the lectures they would make more sense ... but I really don't have the time to do that .. I'm playying cath-up with mid-terms I have this week, assignments to complete and 2 practical exams.

    Maybe I don't value the positive achievements I have in life, very few any way ... but I always fret about things I can't do ... the list is endless ... I can't get up easily in the mornings, I can't talk with a beautiful girl without making a fool of myself, I really can't even talk with a professor a lot cause I'm too afraid that he'll realize I know nothing .. I'd rather email them then talk to them in person cause of this fear.

    Sometimes, I browse through the discussions through the other sub-forums and I think will I be ever able to hold that kind of arguments in my life? I'd really love to feel "knowledgeable" internally ...

    Also, I have this belief that I would be happy socially and with myself if I had a certain project to do in life ... something related to my field ... which I would keep building up on / updating as I learn more and more ... do you'll have any suggstions as to what I could do? ... It'd be some-what as a buffer like thing ... I could work on it whenever I feel I'm too overwhelmed by everything else and then one fine day it would be complete and god willing ... I would have definately been able to accomplish something significant with it. I've read interesting things right now about Time travel, teleportation, anti-gravity, search for magnetic mono-poles etc ... I understand the beauty behind these yet to be completely discovered "concepts", but I have really nothng to add to them ... I can only read about it and try and make an attempt to understand ...

    Hmm, I aplogize for the long read ... but would appreciate any replies.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2008 #2


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    Gold Member

    You seem to have very low self-esteem, and poor self-discipline. I had poor study habits when I entered engineering school because my studies in HS were so easy that I just breezed through with very little effort. When I got to college, I had to hit the ground running (literally) or fall behind. I started getting up early every morning, jogging for 1/2 hour, showering, eating a light breakfast, and getting to my first classes alert and ready to go. When homework was assigned, I tried to get after it ASAP, and not let it wait until there was time pressure.

    Examine your study-habits, too. Do not try to take copious notes - you can use a digital recorder for that. Whenever the lecturer stresses a concept, make some concise notes in your text. That way, when you study for exams, the notes will not be buried away in a notebook, but will be in a relevant portion of the text. Chances are that future concepts will rest on these, and that your comprehension of the course-work will be tested by exam questions bearing on them. Good luck.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  4. Mar 10, 2008 #3
    I used to worry about a lot of the same things you do, but as you go through school, you realize that you're not so different from the other students. Like turbo said, work on the self-esteem and study habits...it'll help a lot.

    Also, about the memory thing: in my opinion, you don't need to worry about memorizing loads of formulas and derivations to be a good engineer. More than anything, you need to have a grasp on the concepts and how to use them. In EE, you'll re-use a lot of what you learn early on, so with that repetition will come reinforcement. Everybody forgets things they don't use frequently...so don't freak out if you don't know how to derive the electric field of an infinite line charge. You can look up the equation later if you need to. Get involved in various projects to reinforce what you learn...browsing around on PF and helping people with homework problems will help....and even talking with your professor or classmates about the material will make things stick better. Believe me...almost any professor would be more than happy to help you out and talk with you about the course material.

    I'm more and more convinced that most of learning is making yourself believe that you CAN learn the material, not actually figuring it out. If you go into it having confidence in yourself, you'll do a whole lot better than you thought you would.
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