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Given how my college career is going, I'm worthless

  1. Jul 10, 2015 #1
    i have spent the past four years in college already. most of my peers have graduated. I entered, by chance and luck, my dream school as an engineering major, but didn't have the confidence to continue the program. I skipped class almost all the time, because deep down, i didn't believe i could hack engineering, which is what i really wanted to do, since i love physics and its practical applications.

    i got dismissed from the uni after the first year, and attended a CC, where i bounced from major to major.

    I decided to major in statistics, because it has only 54 semester units, and engineering has 96. But even statistics major would take 2.5 years more to finish now, and the degree isn't that employable. I would be 25 when i graduate. I feel like i have wasted so much youth, and will have no choice but to waste the rest of my youth.

    I feel so worthless and hopeless. I don't know where to go from here. i feel too ashamed to face my high school peers, one of which i desperately want to have sex and am in love with. I was planning to lose my virginity with him as my graduation gift, but it seems so far way. I'm too ashamed to see him before i graduate.

    any comments, questions, tips, or advice?
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 10, 2015 #2
    You're not worthless. Nor are you hopeless. And it's not too late for you to get your degree.
    And finally, you're not wasting your youth. I mean, many people don't finish their Ph.Ds until they're 29. So if you're wasting your youth, then they might as well retire before their first post-doc!

    My advice is to find a good balance of life and school. Do you have any hobbies you enjoy? Then enjoy them. Do you exercise? Exercise is an excellent way of clearing your mind and allowing your brain to think better (just ask Einstein about his long walks at the institute of advanced studies). Even a 15-minute walk once a day can help.

    But whatever you do, just recognize that success in school is not equal to success in life (unless you make it that way). Just focus on disciplining yourself with your current classes as well as learning employable skills wherever the opportunities arise.

    And above all else, you're never alone. There will always be good people who want to help you when you're down. Find them and hold on to them. Seek help if you need it.
  4. Jul 10, 2015 #3
    So what if you're 25? That's young. You've barely lived a quarter of your life.

    You can beat the hell out of life for the next 10 years and do whatever you want, and regret screwing around for 5 years because you didn't have the confidence, or you can do nothing for the next 50 years because you haven't the confidence and regret your whole life.
  5. Jul 10, 2015 #4


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    It's important not to tie your sense of self worth to your accomplishments or lack-thereof. Sure, I understand that pursuing a degree is a tough, long slog, particularly if you'e had a few false starts, but that doesn't meant that you're not going to be successful in life.

    With respect to a stats major not being that employable - remember it's not that degree that's employable. It's the person. I think a lot of people subscribe to this idea that they are going to work in a field defined by their degree, but the reality for most is that you gain a certain level of education, you learn how to learn, how to navigate the beurocracy of academia, how to complete complex projects, etc. and then take that out into the world and use it as needed.

    With resepct to being 25 when you graduate - I now that seems late when you're 22 or 23 and your friends are graduating, but in a few years you'll look back and realize there really isn't much difference. And as others on the forum often point out, you're going to turn 25 anyway. Do you want to do it with or without a degree?

    With respect to feeling ashamed to face people remember that life isn't a competition. Or if it is, it's only with yourself. Making those kinds of big life decisions don't need to be tied to major accomplishments, because again, accomplishment and self-worth are two different things. If you choose to engage in a relationship (or specific physical aspects of one) with someone it should be because that's something that both of you want, independent of what you've done or haven't done. That said it's also very imortant not to choose such things in an effort to feel better about yourself.

    You can feel better about yourself by taking charge of the aspects of your life that you can control. Assess where you're at. Make a plan. Move forward. Take time to reward yourself and relax. Allow yourself some fun. Spend time with friends who appreciate you for who you are. Read up on things that really interest you. Practice kindness.

    Alright, I think I got my Dr. Phil moment out.
  6. Jul 10, 2015 #5
    this knocked some sense into me. thanks. it was very well put
  7. Jul 11, 2015 #6
    The "kinder, gentler" response:

    Sorry it's going rough for you.
    "25": When God made time, he made plenty of it. You're not on any one else's time schedule except your own. On the other hand, time was made by God and it is precious & holy. So quit wasting it.

    Maybe you need a job for a year or two to build motivation. Maybe you need a change of venue to clear your head. Consider those options. Chart a course and start sailing.

    And BTW, there are many opportunities in Quality Engineering fields for pure statistics. Six Sigma, Reliability Engineering, etc.

    The "tough love" response (apologies in advance, but you need a kick in the pants):

    Fergawdsake, quit wallowing in your self-pity and snap out it. You think it's hard now? Then go get a job that sucks and find out how millions of folks survive the agonizing grind each day, knowing this is all the opportunity they have. Get on with it. Identify & purge your bad habits that hold you back and get on with it.
  8. Jul 11, 2015 #7


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    First of all, who told you that a statistics degree is not employable? I've been a statistician working in various industries for over a decade, and I can tell you that there are many opportunities for those with a statistics background, particularly those with a solid foundation in programming and data analysis (I've responded to countless threads you've started about this degree, and provided advice to you to the best of my ability).

    As Choppy said, it's not the degree that's employable, it's you. It's up to you to develop the skills that employers are looking are for.

    And frankly, graduating at 25 is not late at all -- don't compare yourself with others. Especially your high school peers -- I haven't spoken to my high school peers in over 20 years, and frankly I don't care one way or the other what they think! Lots of people, for various reasons, graduate a little later than expected -- it's normal, and it's nothing to be ashamed of! Like tygerdawg said, snap out of it! Work on your study habits, work hard, and I'm confident that you'll be able to graduate (anybody who can get into university is capable of graduating).

    [Unrelated aside: As for the guy you're in love with -- why wait for graduation to lose your virginity? If you truly like him, and he likes you, then it doesn't matter when you have sex with him -- the time you spend together is special, and will always be special. Don't wallow in regret or shame -- live your life!!]
  9. Jul 11, 2015 #8
    I think what you need to start with is some reflection. Do you really like engineering? Is it really what you want to do? If you don't feel motivated enough to go to class and to study, then the reason is probably that you're not interested in the major. It might not feel that way, but I remember being in a similar (though not quite as severe) position and realized that the problem was that I hated electrical engineering as a major and I was only interested in the math and the science, and I realized that I had been talking myself into thinking I liked it for a very long time. Once I changed majors, I was much happier and my grades improved really quickly. If you liked what you were studying and truly felt like you could see yourself having a future with it, then you would want to go to class rather than consider it a chore you're forced to put up with.

    If you're not motivated to go to class to study engineering, then down the line you won't be motivated to go to work to do engineering. The career you would end up with would not be a pleasant one.

    A statistics degree is by no means unemployable. It's actually a pretty good one to have, job-wise. And if it's required for the kind of job you want to have, then employers would much rather see someone who graduated at 25 and studied hard in a subject she's passionate about than someone who graduated at 22 after spending 4 years not learning a thing in a major she had no real interest in. If you're not passionate about the subject, you won't be passionate about the job, and employers who sense that won't want to hire you. Also, especially in the tech industry, a little individualism can go a long way and looking like you took the time to find out what you were truly interested in says better things about your character than wasting 4 years in a degree program you hate because you felt like that's what was expected of you. The tech industry is flooded with people who only took engineering degrees because they were told it was their no-questions-asked ticket to a perfect job.

    Your post also contains a lot of talking about shame and defeat, so it sounds a bit like you maybe have a bit of an attitude problem. You're talking about feeling like you only got into college by luck (which is almost certainly not true), that you aren't capable of learning engineering, that your plans are doomed to failure, and that everyone else is better than you. It seems maybe like there's something more deep-seated you may want to address.

    This will be a bit NSFW, but I think we're all grown-ups here.

    First, taking a girl's virginity is a chore, not a present. And, judging how my first went, if he doesn't have any experience then it's just going to be a miserable and kind of humiliating experience all around. Thankfully, it will probably only last like 2 minutes. Not a good graduation present, basically.

    Really, what's stopping you from just starting now? Being so dramatic about it will just be another cause of stress for you, and it sounds like that's something you absolutely do not need more of in your life right now.

    Second, and more seriously, I think you need to maybe evaluate your relationship with this guy if he's causing you to feel so critical of yourself. The person you love should make you feel better about yourself, not worse.
  10. Jul 11, 2015 #9
    hey jack, thanks so much for your comment. You are very wise.
    to be fair, i don't know what if i love engineering. i just know that i love classical physics. I also like most applications of math and science. What did u change ur major to?

    you are right that i have some deep-seated issues. I have low self-esteem and depression that has been going on and off.

    Your comment about virginity is true. i do realize that i am spending a lot of time fantasizing about an interaction with someone that would last only a few minutes, and am stressing a lot over it. i have always thought men wanted to "deflower", tho.

    The man doesn't make me feel bad at all. The shame comes from within.
  11. Jul 11, 2015 #10
    hi statguy. Thanks for commenting on this thread and to my other threads.
    come to think of it, i don't care about the opinions of most of my hs peers, either - just that one guy.
    thanks for the encouragement. I'll try my best to work on my habits and work ethic
  12. Jul 13, 2015 #11
    Some people here are opining that you should just go ahead and have sex whenever you want.

    I would give the opposite counsel. There is something very special about purity - something very special about marriage. I counsel you to first deal with your various issues. Second, wait until marriage. Save yourself and make it special for you and your future spouse. You only lose your virginity once (if at all). Make it special.

    Some thoughts about being self-critical. Being self-critical can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I believe that all forms of flattery are morally wrong, because flattery, by its very nature, is dishonest. Instead, I think we should be truthful with each other. We shouldn't be brutal with each other. We should try to be gentle as we tell the truth. Gentle and patient and forgiving and kind. But truthful. If you are ashamed of yourself, I think you need to be very honest with yourself and with others about the reasons that you are ashamed of yourself. And you need to find people who will love you enough to tell you the truth in a kind and gentle way. But watch out for people who will just flatter you in order to make you feel good about yourself. You can't trick reality, and you can't experience real growth if you are basing your thoughts about yourself on things that are not true. I am a big fan of encouragement, but again, I distinguish between encouragement and flattery. Real encouragement is to infuse other people with courage (the word courage is right there in encouragement). So, I think that hard coaches and drill sergeants are often better at encouraging people than people who flatter you.
  13. Jul 13, 2015 #12


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    To EM_Guy,

    There are comments here that I both agree and disagree.

    I am largely in agreement with your second paragraph about being honest and truthful with each other, and to watch out for those who will just flatter you (I too regard flattery as being disingenous and often dishonest), as well as true encouragement based on honesty.

    Where I disagree is about the sanctity of purity. Personally, I do not believe there is anything particular special about being "pure" (i.e. being inexperienced sexually), nor do I believe that one should wait until marriage to have sex. I see nothing wrong with two people in a relationship outside of marriage engaging in consensual sex.

    Now obviously, the decision for the OP to have sex is a deeply personal one, and she should only do so when she feels most comfortable to do so. I know you mean well, but it's certainly not my place, nor anyone else here on PF forums (including yourself), to lecture her on when she should do this.
  14. Jul 13, 2015 #13
    As you have observed, we obviously disagree.
  15. Jul 13, 2015 #14

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    Personally, I would never ask physicists for advice about my sex life. Just sayin'.
  16. Jul 13, 2015 #15
    sex is physics
  17. Jul 15, 2015 #16


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    I think there's a Feynman quote/reference in there somewhere.

    Joking aside, do you have anyone in your life who is completely honest? Someone who will tell you the truth about your decisions/behavior without being judgmental? If not, get someone like that. Better yet, find multiple people like that. You are at a point in your life when you need to be around people who are going to hold you accountable for poor decisions, and celebrate the victories that come from good choices and hard work.

    Don't get me wrong, sometimes emotional support is necessary, but when you're facing decisions that alter the trajectory of your life, it's best to be around people who not only have your best interests in mind, but who also know when to be supportive and when to be critical.

    Right now, you need to do what's best for you. Not your friends from HS, not a love interest. YOU. As hard as it might be, you also need to seriously evaluate the consequences of getting into a romantic/sexual relationship right now. When things get rough (they always do), it will make it very difficult to focus.

    You've got many years ahead, don't waste them by succumbing to depression. Get professional help if needed. I honestly wish you the best of luck and hope you don't give up.
  18. Jul 15, 2015 #17
    Even with all that, it's hard for me to know if you have the basic math and science skills to succeed in a chemistry, math, physics, or engineering major.

    Look back at your old ACT scores. If you have over a 28 in math and science, I'd say stick with it. Otherwise, you might not have the chops in math and science to succeed after this experience.

    Another thing to try is the ALEKS on-line pre-calc course. If you can finish the course in 2-4 weeks, I'd say you have the skills to make it. If it seems like it's gonna take months, then pick a different major.

    Picking a different major does not mean you are worthless, it just means you were created differently from us math and science geeks. That is a good thing.
  19. Jul 15, 2015 #18


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    I got a 23 on the mathematics portion, 26 on the science portion IIRC. Currently a math major making A's in 400-level courses. I don't consider the ACT to be the end-all-be-all measurement of intellect or success. I think this thread has established that the major problem here is a personality problem i.e. depressive, lack of confidence, scared of making decisions, etc.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  20. Jul 15, 2015 #19
    I've seen hundreds of students flunk out of physics, chemistry, and engineering majors. Inability in algebra and trig (pre-calc) was the deadly arrow in most cases. A's in 400-level math courses is no guarantee of competence in the pre-calc material needed to succeed in physics, chemistry, and engineering.
  21. Jul 15, 2015 #20
    i'm done with calc 1 and 2, physics with calculus 1.
    i'd say the SAT is a better indicator of raw/fluid intelligence. That or a good IQ test.
    ACT is a better indicator of crystallized intelligence, which is acquired. So, if you didn't do well in ACT or didn't master precal, you could go back and learn it. It's not like raw intelligence, which is out of our control and due to only genetics. Also, i didn't take the ACT. it's not popular in CA.
    Picking a non-quantitative major as someone with an IQ of at least 95 makes that person worthless. Have you seen the BS they teach these days? Most college degrees are about puppies and unicorns.
    And while most people aren't natural math and science geeks, MOST people have the intelligence to acquire degrees in them with reasonable effort. So no, it's not a good thing to get a useless/worthless/mindfudgery degree unless your IQ ( i mean raw intelligence) is far below average. Do you even hear yourself? Go major in puppies and unicorns in this day and age with this massive education bubble, if your ACT score wasn't x,y,z, and it's a good thing?

    i do agree with you in that most people fail in calc and physics because they failed to master precal, but it's mostly due to laziness.Also, about finishing the course in a few weeks or months. That depends heavily on previous exposure to the material. Those who have had exposure to it in hs (and didn't miss hw most of the time) would master it in a few weeks, because it would be review. Those who haven't had exposure would take months. And assuming that this is the first time they've been exposed, a few months is pretty good. Precal is a year long course in the US high school system, and a semester long course in college.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  22. Jul 15, 2015 #21
    My experience has been that the math in physics, chemistry, and engineering majors is almost trivial by comparison to what math majors do,
    so while not a guarantee A's in junior and senior level math courses are a good indicator where the ACT is not.
  23. Jul 15, 2015 #22


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    Hi annoyinggirl,

    I have seen you on this forum (and even college confidential) over the past few years. Your threads have a lot of the same themes. You are always bouncing from major to major. Because of this indecision, you are not progressing towards a degree, seemingly going nowhere, so you are probably becoming depressed by lack of progress. Maybe you are depressed about other circumstances in your life which is causing the indecision causing more depression, like a vicious cycle.

    I highly suggest to go talk to a college psychologist about depression and deciding to study something that you truly care about (maybe school is not the right choice at all, there are many successful people who didn't go to college). Many people (myself included) have had to deal with this, when I went to the psychologist at school it helped me get on a path that kept me sane (at least temporarily). Your problem is much deeper than you are projecting on these forums, there are fundamental issues you need to address before things begin to get better.

    Please get professional help, I mean that in the best way possible.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  24. Jul 16, 2015 #23
    So I was in a similar position when I was 25 (29 now); I entered college at the normal age of about 18 thinking I'd do CS as a segway into animation but I got interested in physics and engineering (only saw up to precalc in high school). I basically failed alot mostly because I didn't know how to study and I constantly suffered from imposter syndrome (thinking I didn't actually belong there), so relatively easy courses like calculus and freshman physics were all super daunting and it got to the point where I'd failed so much I became somewhat suicidal. Long story short, with lots of support from family and improved study methods I eventually graduated at age 28 with a double major in physics and electrical engineering and I now have a job at a national lab (the imposter syndrome never really goes away IME but it hurts less now, age was a non-factor in my hiring btw); I also have aspirations to get a PhD, I'd be in my mid-late 30's when I finish. I think it was Feynman that said what one fool can do, another fool can do; and I whole heartedly believe that. I'm not going to win the nobel prize; but if someone with as bad a start as I had can succeed in STEM in the small way I have, I think most people (that includes you) can do something, standardized test scores be damned.

    A statistics major can be quite employable depending on the industry, there's loads of data out there in various places that needs statistical analysing and certain industries will pay quite well for such a service. I know people who did statistics in grad school and in their experience it involved lots of 'pure' math as a segway to the applications. The issue is that if you pick a major just for employment purposes than you'll probably end up not liking it as much as you possibly could have and the fact of the matter is that degrees by themselves tend to be necessary but not sufficient conditions to getting a job. You essentially have to show that you can dig into your subject by doing out of the classroom research and/or work and that's always easier when you're generally interested in said subject. Soul searching, professional help, and seeing what really interests you (the subject as it actually is not what you think or have been lead into thinking it is) would be a good thing to do right now, don't worry so much about your age or what your hs peers may or may not be doing but I will say living with regret about not scratching that intellectual itch isn't a fun thing to live with but any stem major will involve lots of focused studying (look into Cal Newport's study hacks blog btw). Sorry for the TLDR length rambling, best of luck!
  25. Jul 16, 2015 #24


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    Dr. Courtney, I disagree with the advice you are giving here, primarily because a single test is no indicator of someone's underlying ability in a quantitative field, or even what pace that individual can learn such material. Perhaps you are one of those people (like myself) who have had interests in and aptitude for quantitative subjects from a very young age, but I have met many individuals who have developed an interest and aptitude for mathematics later in life (one of my good friends had received a MA in political science & worked in the IT field before returning to school to finish his BS and PhD in mathematics).

    The crux of the OP's problems (which she has highlighted both here and in other threads in PF) have nothing to do with her aptitude in STEM, but has far more to do with psychological issues (e.g. maintaining disciplined study habits, issues with self-confidence, depression, etc.). The advice that I've given, and what others have given, have been to address those issues.
  26. Jul 16, 2015 #25
    You are welcome to your opinion, but I've seen too many aspiring STEM majors with weak math backgrounds crash and burn.

    It's not just about an ACT score, one who has not mastered algebra and trig (as would be quickly demonstrated by revisiting pre-calc in the on-line ALEKS assessment) will not succeed in a physics, chemistry, or engineering major.

    My suggestion to re-visit one's ability in algebra and trig as a vital part or assessing one's preparation and likelihood to succeed in physics or engineering is sound. Success for a stats major in 400 level math course may not indicate the needed preparation in algebra and trig, without which no physics or engineering major will succeed.
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