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Studying Having trouble studying

  1. Apr 5, 2017 #1
    Hi all. As seen by the title, I am having trouble studying. I am currently a college student and especially since my parents are paying for my tuition, I feel the pressure of doing well. I know I am not allocating enough time to doing well in my classroom and much of that time is spent grinding a game that I enjoy or watching youtube/TV shows. People have given me the advice that once I find something I enjoy I will be able to excel at that, but what if the things I enjoy are not seen as useful in society. I cannot say that I do not enjoy math which is my class that I currently want to excel most in right now, but I am more willing to give up and work less than when I am grinding ranks in my game. Much of my bad study habits has to do with relationship with my parents, but unfortunately that is a way larger problem than study habits. How can I make studying math more enjoyable? I have found asking the professors for direction and hints worked very well, but I cannot rely on my professors all the time. As I've said before I enjoy the grinding aspects of games. is there a way to make math like that? Finally, what is a good way to make studying a more positive experience?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2017 #2


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    Self-discipline! Stop playing the games. Spend your time studying your courses and try to learn every topic or section as thoroughly as you can. Enjoyment is less important. You need to find your goal of what you want as a career so you pick your courses accordingly.
  4. Apr 5, 2017 #3


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    I'm not a gamer, so I have no idea what you mean by "grinding aspects of games" but here are a few thoughts...
    1. There's nothing wrong with gaming, provided it's not interfering with your other goals in life. But based on what you've said here, it sounds like it might be. I would guess that on a neurological level, your brain is used to getting a little hit of dopamine as a reward for "grinding" through your game. I think some people get that same kind of feeling after struggling through a math problem, which is why they tend to enjoy the process of doing the math. Replacing one with the other is not that easy though. Perhaps you could try quitting any and all gaming for a while (i.e. through finals). That likely still isn't going to make you suddenly enjoy the math more, but it might help to reduce the urge to put down the books and pick up the *whatever they call a joystick* now.

    2. It can help to surround yourself with others who have similar goals of doing well in math, and who are doing so. I know it may not be easy to make new friends at this point in the year, but to the extent that you can, you might want to try hanging out with the math nerds. It's surprising how much it can help you to focus when your peer group is oriented in the direction you want to go. You'll talk more about your problems, find out what other people are struggling with and what's helped them, and if you can pick up on even just a few key points that you otherwise might have missed, this can make a world of difference.

    3. Don't underestimate the value in taking good care of yourself. Get a decent amount of sleep. This will give you more willpower to stay focussed on math and avoid gaming when you need to. (Conversely I'm sure you can see how staying up late gaming leads into a negative feedback cycle.) The same goes for eating well, and getting good exercise.

    4. Time in. I can't necessarily say you'll enjoy math more, if you study more, but the odds are you will get better at it, and there does tend to be a correlation between how good one is at something and how much one enjoys it.

    5. Take a serious look at how you're studying now. How often do you take breaks? Sometimes people get overwhelmed if they don't break up larger goals into smaller steps and then it becomes easier to slack off because instead of seeing a bunch of small victories, you just see one far-off goal that isn't getting any closer despite a lot of effort.

    6. Different points of view. Sometimes it can help to check out a different textbook or two that essentially covers the same thing. Sometimes the course textbook just won't jive with you. Sometimes it can be downright horrible. There are a lot of people on these forums who can recommend good textbooks depending on the level you're at and the level you want to get to.
  5. Apr 6, 2017 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    If your parents weren't paying your tuition, there's a better chance you would be more motivated, since it would be your money you're wasting.
    A major part of getting a university education is delayed gratification -- the willingness to forgo the immediate gratification of playing games or watching videos in favor of the delayed gratification of building a path to a career.
    If it's something you really love, studying math can be enjoyable, but in a school environment, you're usually not at liberty to pick and choose the topics you want to explore, so studying is more like work.
    It seems to me you are fooling yourself. You seem to believe that playing games and watching videos is somehow a positive experience. Is that what you want to be doing in four or five years, or would you rather be an independent person, making your way on your own?
  6. Apr 6, 2017 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    Same here. I have no clue what this means.
    Like an addiction. I had a friend who got heavily into crack cocaine for about a year. After he got clean, he told me that he enjoyed it so much that nothing else could bring him pleasure in the same way. Reading the OP's post reminded me of what my friend told me.
  7. Apr 6, 2017 #6
    What happened to this friend of yours?
    I am starting to see a correlation with all of your answers and sorry for me not being super specific with the word "grinding". It is similar to honing your skills in mathematics or any work by doing a lot of problems and figuring ways to improve your speed or accuracy in doing a problem. Besides that, I truly do agree with all the posts. I definitely sound like a whiney kid, and I need to put aside my instant gratification for what I wish to do in the future especially since I've been given this opportunity by my parents. Therefore, may I rephrase the question to how did you guys put aside instant gratification for your long term goals. I liked Choppy's answer, but would really enjoy as much input as I can get. And do I need to make a snap decision to just put aside me playing games? I know Mark44 called it an addiction. Will I get withdrawal symptoms and if so how should I deal with it?
  8. Apr 6, 2017 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    I don't mean that you are addicted to the games and so on, although I have seen reports about people who were so used to being in constant contact via their phones and social media, that when they didn't have these devices, they began to grow visibly agitated.

    You don't have to go "cold turkey," as they say, but you should be able to limit how much time you spend doing non-study things. As Choppy mentioned, it's a good thing to break up the time you spend studying by doing other things not related to what you are studying. The problem is if you wind up spending all your time in non-study activities, and little or no time on the actual studying part.
  9. Apr 8, 2017 #8
    I had that problem too at home, ended up procrastinating in games or browsing instead of studying. Try going to a public library or other place where you are away from your computer and force yourself to be there for X hours. Starting to study is always the hardest, but after the first minutes it gets easier and more enjoyable.
  10. Apr 9, 2017 #9
    Use games to your advantage. Math physics and logic is what makes games, games. Challenge yourself and instead of just "playing" games, when you play the game, study the game and try to guess what math, physics and logic is making the game run.
    Then use your knowledge of math to make a game of your own.
    Don't make games an enemy of your studies, use it to enhance your studies.They say you don't really understand something until you can teach it to someone else. Maybe you can make a game about math, and teach others the math you learn. Or just make a game, and write a tutorial of how the math, logic and physics of your game operate.

    I can't tell you how many gamer friends I have who don't get it. They will just play games and play more games, but when I say "Hey...let's make a game" they just won't help. They don't get how making a game is so much fun. In fact I would have lost my interest in gaming completely if I was not able to make a game. Because when I'm playing a game I just fantasize of "Oh...how could I make this game even better than it is?" Or dreaming of making my version of the game or make a silly/parody version of the game.
  11. May 24, 2017 #10
    I've had a similar issue with video games. I think Mark44 did an excellent job of answering you in the 4th comment, but I want to add a couple of things to what he already said. I would definitely say uninstall or sell the video games you're most addicted to. When something is affecting your life in a negative way you need to remove it. Uninstalling League of Legends has allowed me to focus on more important tasks such as schoolwork. Next I would say that you need to get in the mindset of being great at whatever it is you do. Even though its summer I'm studying for next semester already because I have this new mindset of having a problem with being bad at Physics. You need to have that same mindset when it comes to math. It needs to bother you that you're not as good as you should/want to be. As far as math being exciting, I've realized that the more math I know and can do the more "fun" it is, but like Mark44 mentioned, since I'm all done with math classes, I can go study whatever it is I'm interested in like Topology, Differential Geometry, reading Newton's Principia, Spivak's Calculus, etc.
  12. May 26, 2017 #11


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    Best advice I can give is to uninstall these games. When you finished your year, and you did well, you can install them again, but when the year again starts, you have to delete them again. This way, you will be able to focus more on your study during the year, you will have plenty of time to make exercises, .... Eventually, you will become better at the subjects and because you will be rewarded with good grades (hopefully), you will also enjoy the courses more. What you don't want, is to tell yourself in the future 'what if I wouldn't have gamed'. This is a regret you will carry for the rest of your life.
  13. May 30, 2017 #12
    Im beyond the videogame addiction phase. Videogames bore me when I play them too long.

    My problem is that I am depressed and have low-energy. I am a morning person so I do the most science-intensive stuff in the morning. I can be a genius for about 2 hours, and then I go back into tired-blond mode where it feels like my brain is a muscle that ran out of energy.

    Anyway, my hypothesis is that I think his main problem is, he isn't recognizing that what attracts him to games is that his brain runs out of energy, promoting him to be lazy and play videogames. His main problem here, I would guess is energy management.
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