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Has anyone changed themselves during undergrad?

  1. Oct 24, 2014 #1
    I am a sophomore in my undergraduate studies aiming to go to grad school. My journey so far has proven difficult as I essentially make straight B's in all math and physics courses with a few A's in random general education classes.

    I feel as if I love part of physics, mainly its impact on society and the profound understanding it has provided to humans, but I can't seem to translate this love into school.

    In the past two years I have been reading books and using introspective thought as to what allows a person to be a successful, high-gpa student. I know what I need to do but through some way I always fail to implement my action plan.

    I skip lectures, I take shortcuts on homework to get it done without truly understanding it, I cannot pay attention in lectures even when well rested, nourished, and otherwise satiated, I stay up way too late, and my only attempts to understand the material occur 0-3 days before any exam. I realize when I do these things as I do them, but even when I fix them for a day, a week, or two, I always slip back in to my terrible ways.

    For example, I am enrolled in a standard multivariable calculus course where the homework grade is an extremely small amount of the total grade, I didn't attend lecture which I can't pay attention in or do any homework for 1/3 the course. The day before the exam I go to the library and study for 14 hours with breaks only to eat, reading the entire textbook's worth of reading, reading outside sources, and doing a plethora of practice problems all to get a B on the exam - of course thats nothing more or less than I expected. Had I simply gone to bed earlier, gotten even a modicum of knowledge from lectures, spent a little bit of time on the homework when it was assigned, and then studied for a few hours a day in the library 7 days before the exam, I could have easily obtained an A and a possible 100 %. The exams always seem easy to me in retrospect and I know I have talent, I simply fail to apply myself even in full knowledge that my methods wont work.

    Christ, I got a 36 on the science ACT, so some portion of science must come naturally to me. I just feel like a spoiled brat, with potential but without a spine to use it, almost like some part of me is content with B's and an extremely unhealthy lifestyle.

    The worst part about the situation is that I am not stressed, mad, or sad that I have a mediocre ~3.35 GPA, I feel nothing.

    I don't post this thread seeking sympathy, I am simply wondering if anyone has manged to CHANGE themselves and turn around bad habbits deeply ingrained within them to succeed in this field or anything in life that was previously a road block to them. If so, how did you do it? Was it purely an act of willpower that I need to keep trying to find?

    I'm not sure how long I should keep trying to change or if I should just cut my losses and get an engineering degree.

    - Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    Your problem is not unique. I think I had a similar situation though in my case I had too many interests and not enough time to get into them all. I think even if I did have enough time I would find even more interests to play with so its not really time its something else. In your case, It could be something like ADD where you just cant focus on things that are important at the moment.

    You need to find your passion, something that keeps you focused. Perhaps as you're taking a class, you come up with a project that needs the skills you're learning so while your mind is focused on your project the urgency of studying is kept in check because you need the skills to do the project.

    As an example, while learning Calculus III you consider writing a physics-based computer game. Now your vector studies come into play as your spaceship travels in its universe using vector transformations or the curl / divergence of imaginary force fields...
    basically try to weave what you're learning into your game...

    In Buddhism, they say people have a monkey mind which resists being trained and wants to do what it wants to do. Its your job to train it using treats or discipline or to trick it into doing what needs to be done.

    Some of these problems result because in high school you had a more structured environment where you could get away without studying and now in college you don't have the discipline to study and still want to play. So the trick you must learn is how to study and play with what you're studying...
  4. Oct 24, 2014 #3
    I have the exact same problem. Though I am in Calculus 2. Iv'e been suggested to be tested for ADD/ADHD so I would recommend that to you as well. Also, it looks like you have identified what you are doing wrong, now try to fix it. This is easier said then done for sure. I have recognized what ive been doing wrong for the last few semesters and I will only fix the problem for a few days, some how we need to figure out how to stick to it :P
  5. Oct 25, 2014 #4


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    Your school probably has resources to help you with learning strategies and time-management skills. Check them out. They're there because there are a lot of students who are experiencing the same problems you are.

    I'm guessing you feel numb because some part of you feels your situation is hopeless. You recognize you need to make a change, but you lack the will to follow through for whatever reason. You simply need to commit to making a change, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable initially. A lot of times, simply getting started is the kick in the butt you need to get out of a funk.
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