Grad school is fleeting and I literally don't care anymore

In summary: I don't know what you call it... Plateau. I don't think I could have done it then if I didn't have my degree.TLDR:In summary, this early in your undergrad, you have failed some important classes and you are feeling overwhelmed. You might benefit from counseling and trying new things to boost your creativity.
  • #1
ProfuselyQuarky
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[Mentor Note -- thread moved to the Academic Guidance forum]

Oy vey! Is this allowed? I didn't post this on academic advising because this is more of a lament and honestly I don't think there's anything new that that can be said. I'd rather have internet bots read this as opposed to crying on the phone with friends/family.

I was supposed to apply to doctorate programs this fall but the past two quarters have been nauseatingly terrible. I'm known around these parts as "the person who failed bioenergetics AND gene expression twice in a row". And "by these parts", I mean myself and the professors I've never met in my life because I haven't told anyone about my affairs this whole year and my human interaction is next to nothing.

Hell yeah. I only have two years at this school because I'm a transfer. One year down and absolutely nothing to show for! So even if I do replace those grades next fall, my grad school applications are only going to have absolute BS. How'd my academic record become so dramatic.

None of the schools I want require the GRE so no chance of looking good there. The only thing that makes me get up in the morning is a research assistant position I managed to somehow score (one of the few still hiring students during c*vid, for that I am eternally grateful) but the PI's research is literally nothing I'm personally interested in. So I can only imagine how little value that has. Congratsssss PQ, you can cheat your way around R Studio and the GC that never works, how are you going to explain the fact that you can spell words with your transcript. Rising senior somehow still doesn't have her act together!

TLDR: I DO CARE. GOD. Summer session 2021, PLEASE be kind to me. I swear I'm a hardworking person, albeit annoying. Chronic illness is so rude. QED. Peace.

EDIT: Also, NO, I'm not lazy. I thought deleting social media and throwing away hobbies and cancelling Netflix/HBO would help me to do good. But, no, since I don't have anything to preoccupy my time, what do I do? I sit on the floor of my apartment as if I'm in jail, listening to Spotify and telling myself I should do something more respectable and literally not. doing. it.
 
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  • #2
I had a very hard time in the beginning of undergrad as well, but it was because I came from an easy high school where I did very well and didn't have to study much. I don't know if that's your background as well. You can see my Mentor Biography thread for more details.
ProfuselyQuarky said:
I was supposed to apply to doctorate programs this fall but the past two quarters have been nauseatingly terrible.
You are early in your undergrad in the US, I think. How are you applying for a PhD program?
ProfuselyQuarky said:
I'm known around these parts as "the person who failed bioenergetics AND gene expression twice in a row".
Do you have any thoughts about why you failed those classes? Low interest? Difficult to understand material? I had big problems with one particular class in my EE undergrad, and I never figured out why. But if these classes are fundamental to your major, you really need to figure out this problem before moving on, IMO.
ProfuselyQuarky said:
None of the schools I want require the GRE so no chance of looking good there.
So your practice GRE scores were very high? If so, you should still include them in your applications, IMO.
ProfuselyQuarky said:
I sit on the floor of my apartment as if I'm in jail,
I work as a medic part time outside of my EE work. Please talk to your family (or school) doctor about this. It's an important sign that you will benefit a lot from some counseling. Please be well.
 
  • #3
It’s so true that these are trying times. Our old habits can no longer be practiced. Restaurants, stores and other venues simply aren’t the same anymore.

Our ways of showing what we can do have been curtailed as well but as my son used to say:

Now it’s time to play.

Use this time to boost your creativity, imagine living on an arctic outpost with no one for miles around. What things can you do?

Personally, I would explore art, music and exercise. For art, I’ve always wanted to learn Origami engineering, for music, slack key guitar and for exercise, Tai Chi. I’m sure you may have similar interests, ask yourself what skillhave you always wanted to learn.

I remember my undergrad years, I worked my way through college doing 20 and later 30 hrs per week while commuting to college daily with a full course load Of math, physics and liberal arts courses. My junior year was really tough, I remember hitting that wall where courses were no longer introductory ones, they were the real deal like Classical Mechanics, General Relativity with tensor analysis, algebraic topology and other heavy courses.

I felt overwhelmed and just limped along deciding not to go to grad school at that time, I felt I had accomplished very little, understood very little and didn’t know how to escape the grind.

What saved me was my other interests in martial arts, music and zen. In the end, I did graduate with a decent grade, got a job and after a few years went back to school to get an MS in CompSci.

Perhaps, there’s something @berkeman and my stories that will inspire you and help you through this slump.

Take care,
Jedi
 
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  • #4
berkeman said:
You are early in your undergrad in the US, I think. How are you applying for a PhD program?
I'm a junior so next year is my last year of undergrad. I was planning on applying this summer/fall because that's when the programs I am/was interested in open their applications for Fall 2022.

berkeman said:
Do you have any thoughts about why you failed those classes?
I honestly don't know why I'm not doing well. I used to study daily to keep up with material clearly, but now if I study I literally can't focus on the page/lecture. The only time I can focus is before exams where the need to know the material is immediate. It's tragic because during the rush of studying for midterms, I go through the material and it's so interesting and I get so mad at myself because I totally could have enjoyed the material to the fullest degree if not for whatever is happening. Fully aware it's my fault. It's a vicious cycle and I recognize that I have to find some way to break it.
berkeman said:
So your practice GRE scores were very high?
I took the GRE last year before I realized the two schools I wanted "took no scores to consideration". They were great, so I'll add them anyway if that's the right move.
jedishrfu said:
Use this time to boost your creativity, imagine living on an arctic outpost with no one for miles around. What things can you do?
I generally use time spent on hobbies as a reward for good performance. E.g., "you can't skateboard or paint today unless you've done x amount of work or received an A on x assignment". And since I haven't been happy with my performance, I feel too guilty to engage in anything. I did that with cooking/eating/sleeping last quarter, too, but that was really stupid and I had to force myself against that. I agree that's not the healthiest mindset.

Thanks for the change in perspective. and thanks to you both for taking the time to read my nonsense. I didn't realize anyone would
 
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  • #5
I would add to my post not to undersell yourself. This is a common student trait especially among the brightest students as they attempt to quantify themselves and their skills.

My nephew applied for a job and got an interview. I helped him with his resume and suggested he add his C programming skill because he took a course and did a project in it,

However, when asked at the interview he said he didn’t know it that it was just a course. In his case, the job interview was a formality since the hiring manager knew his parents. Incredibly, his comment torpedoed the offer as it was hardper to make the case for hiring.

I asked him why and he said he felt he didn’t know it well enough. I told him but you knew it well enough to do your project and you could learn on the job right?

A short time later, he got another shot at it with the same manager and got in having learned to not to undersell himself.

Getting into grad school is not unlike getting a job. So take note and start applying no matter what your grades are. Many other students are going through the same pains and grad school admissions know this and are adapting to this new reality.

One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier post is to take some walks not as a reward but as an essential part of your routine. This simple routine can add structure to your life and help you think more clearly. @fresh_42 reminded me on Hamilton’s walk where he discovered quaternions while contemplating how to extend complex numbers into the 3D world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_quaternions

Thanks @fresh_42 and @berkeman

Jedi
 
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  • #6
jedishrfu said:
One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier post is to take some walks not as a reward but as an essential part of your routine. This simple routine can add structure to your life and help you think more clearly.
DYK that people in Königsberg / Kaliningrad used to set their clocks when they saw Kant on his daily routine of a walk in the morning?
 
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  • #7
fresh_42 said:
DYK that people in Königsberg / Kaliningrad used to set their clocks when they saw Kant on his daily routine of a walk in the morning?
The important question is how many bridges did he cross?
 
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  • #9
This is fun but I kind of feel bad hijacking the thread. PQ, I’m with @berkeman here. You should probably seek out professional advice from someone who can take the time to understand your individual situation and experiences, be it a counselor or a psychologist or what have you. Based on your posts, it sounds like you’re having a really hard time focusing on necessary but possibly tedious tasks for your schoolwork. The pandemic probably doesn’t help. I know my and @berkeman’s suggestion might sound like we’re blowing you off, but it’s honestly probably the most caring thing an internet stranger can suggest. You have time and options and you’re young. You’ll do fine; just make sure to take care of yourself first.
 
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  • #11
Oh, quarky, I'm sorry to hear things are so miserable for you. The advice that I personally think is most important to you right now is that you see a shrink. I'm serious. You need to dig into WHY you are where you are more than you need to focus on getting out it, else you're likely to just be spinning your wheels.
 
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  • #12
I found this
ProfuselyQuarky said:
I'd rather have internet bots read this as opposed to crying on the phone with friends/family.

to be most compelling, and I understand the sentiment. Tell everybody. What have you got to lose? Sure some folks close to you will not be useful because they do not understand. But some may understand far more than you know, and that can be your salvation.
There are also avenues open to you for professional counseling. Do not be too self-involved to see if they can help. Give it a shot...you may strike gold and make new friends. It might even change your life.
You seem to think that you can "bootstrap" your way past this and perhaps that is so. So what?? There is no downside to seeking help from every avenue open to you. You will emerge stronger than you can imagine , and with a larger support group, . Start now.
.
 
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  • #13
ProfuselyQuarky said:
I thought deleting social media and throwing away hobbies and cancelling Netflix/HBO would help me to do good. But, no, since I don't have anything to preoccupy my time, what do I do? I sit on the floor of my apartment as if I'm in jail, listening to Spotify and telling myself I should do something more respectable and literally not. doing. it.
It's not just you. A lot of people, including myself, struggle with this kind of problem. And during the pandemic, it's basically normal. Besides, it's not uncommon among people who would do well in research to suffer from these kinds of problems.

https://observatory.tec.mx/edu-news/procrastination-pandemic
https://www.instyle.com/lifestyle/covid-cloud-concentration-memory-issues

People reviewing your application will most likely be understanding (not just because of covid, but especially because of it). Also, if the University doesn't look at GRE scores, it probably means they are trying to look past raw performance scores, and instead trying to be qualitative in their assessment. What you write in your statements might make a bigger difference than you think. They probably encourage you to explain your bad grades, and might be ready as spaghetti to look past them. I think they'll also possibly be looking for people with qualities you might have; someone with ambition, who has an interesting take on things, who is humble and perseverant, etc. Especially, if you have a health problem but didn't quit, it is a good sign. Anyway, if you want to get into grad school, all you can do is try and see what happens. Apply to a bunch of places to increase your chances.
 
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  • #14
hutchphd said:
What have you got to lose? Sure some folks close to you will not be useful because they do not understand. But some may understand far more than you know, and that can be your salvation.
I have zero pride but I guess terrified of people who care about me unnecessarily worrying. Also, I've always hated the possibility of being known as someone who makes excuses for their poor performance. I.e., I'd rather be known as an idiot as opposed to a capable/lazy individual blaming stuff like covid/medical conditions/etc for failure.

Thank you for your comments. I was panicking but have since found a therapist, will retake the classes this summer, and accept the fact that if I'm rejected this year, I can just try again the next. I'm stubborn and am only interested in two schools.
 
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Related to Grad school is fleeting and I literally don't care anymore

What does "grad school is fleeting" mean?

"Grad school is fleeting" means that the time spent in graduate school is short and will pass quickly. It implies that the experience of being in grad school is temporary and will soon come to an end.

Why do people say "grad school is fleeting"?

People say "grad school is fleeting" because it is a common sentiment among graduate students who are overwhelmed and exhausted by the demands of their program. It is a way of acknowledging the temporary nature of the experience and the desire to move on to the next stage of their career.

What does it mean to "not care anymore" about grad school?

When someone says they "literally don't care anymore" about grad school, it means they have reached a point of extreme exhaustion or frustration and have lost motivation or interest in their studies. It can also indicate a feeling of burnout or a lack of fulfillment in their program.

Is it common for graduate students to feel like they "don't care" about grad school?

Yes, it is common for graduate students to experience periods of feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or disinterested in their studies. Grad school can be mentally and emotionally taxing, and it is normal to have moments where one may question their commitment or passion for their chosen field.

What can I do if I feel like I "don't care" about grad school anymore?

If you are feeling burnt out or disinterested in grad school, it is important to take care of yourself and seek support. Talk to your advisor or a trusted mentor about your feelings and consider seeking counseling or therapy. It may also be helpful to take a break or find ways to reduce your workload to prevent further burnout.

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