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How to deal with people having a headstart.

  1. Dec 22, 2012 #1
    I have colleagues who have a head start in engineering things quite early in their lives which I never had access to. It feels like I am trying to constantly catch up to them and they have better insights which I find hard to arrive at. I am curious as to how people deal with it here especially in universities.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2012 #2


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    Self- study, Self - study, Self - study.
  4. Dec 22, 2012 #3
    I am doing that. I venture into other fields of science and engineering where I find people doing things when they were young. I kind of feel demotivated as I either did not have resources then or it didn't strike me then. :(
  5. Dec 22, 2012 #4


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    Hey nascentmind.

    I would suggest you talk to as many people as you can and read what other people have to say either online or in book form.

    Think of it in a way where you have one perspective and everyone else has another: whether they overlap or not is not the issue: the point is to widen your perspective by engaging in sharing of others perspective with yourself so that you all grow.
  6. Dec 22, 2012 #5


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    For me, such experiences have always motivated me to redouble my efforts. Just because others worked hard in the past doesnt mean you cant work hard now. I once knew a chap who, upon entering our undergrad program, had no idea what a derivative was. He left the program at the top of our class.
  7. Dec 22, 2012 #6


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    Like what? Focus please!

    Some well known people have published biographical experiences that indicate how they were thinking and what they did to develop their selves. A computer science expert, when very young, decided to disassemble a A.M. radio receiver to see what was inside and get an idea how it worked. Another computer science expert used access to his fathers company's electronics and programming books to begin learning how to write program. See, not everyone has the same level of environment advantages, but young people's curiosity combined with what they can find can allow them experiences which they take if they have the impulse; or not take if they not have the impulse.
  8. Dec 22, 2012 #7
    Umm... Ignore them : )

    Focus on your own pace and let them focus on theirs.

    Also, if you need to them to explain things just be open and honest about it. If they're good colleagues they'll be understanding and help. If not, then you may consider trying to spend some more time with colleagues closer to your level.

    You can also look into receiving some one-on-one time with your professors, or see if there is a T.A./department tutor or more general tutoring group available to you. Finally, you can try posting some flyers in your department asking if anyone would like to volunteer to be your study or tutoring partner.

    Best of luck : )
  9. Dec 22, 2012 #8


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    I'm not sure what you mean by "deal with it."

    Everyone has different advantages and disadvantages. One of the eye opening experiences that many people go through when they get to university is that they just aren't on the top of the heap anymore. High school was easy and they earned very high marks. Then along comes the first challenging university class (sometimes this isn't the first one) and they wonder what's wrong with them when they start getting average marks. The answer is nothing. They've just gone through an academic bottleneck.

    This happens again on entrance into graduate school.

    You can drive yourself insane by comparing yourself with others, particularly when the comparison has no real bearing on anything.

    There will always be students whose parents were professors, who build particle accelerators in the garages over their teenaged years, who got to go to space camp, whose parents had the means to buy them a new computer if they broke the one one they began tinkering around with, and who didn't have to deal with a divorce, an alcoholic parent, moving to a new country as a refugee, work two jobs to earn tuition, post tramatic stress injuries, etc.

    That's just the way the ball bounces. Some people get natural advantages. Some don't. Some have to deal with a whole lot of poop before they can get to the fun stuff.

    On the other hand some people have everything going for them and just don't wake up until later in life. This can be a hard one to deal with because it leads to the head games of wondering how your life would be different if you would have done more reading as a kid, studied a little more instead of playing video games, etc. But in the end, you have to deal with it because you can't change your past. You can only change your future.

    So get busy making it the best you can, without sacrificing so much that life in the present isn't fun.
  10. Dec 23, 2012 #9
    Exactly that but I didn't have parents who were engineers and my parents did not have the means to buy a new one if I broke things and would get my head chewn if I broke anything. They would buy toys only if I promised them I don't open them up to see how it works.

    Thanks for the awesome reply. I have also been on the other side where sometimes I just wasted my time and have an incredible feeling of guilt later on.
  11. Dec 23, 2012 #10


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    The point was not that the children had rich parents. The point was that they were curious and with what was available, initiated informal investigations or small constructive projects on their own. Some of the children had an advantageous parent but some did not have.
  12. Dec 23, 2012 #11
    Got that. My point is that to try out things if its costly to fail its hard to learn anything. Most of the people who had a headstart had their parents in the same profession they went into or had shops where they used to hang out.
  13. Dec 23, 2012 #12


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    My suggestion would be for you to build some projects in your area of study. Build them on your own during your spare time and school breaks. If you are studying EE, build some electronics kits that do something useful for you. If you are studying ME, build some mechanical projects that do something useful for you.

    Building practical things gives you some experience, and also helps you to start "asking the right questions" in your studying of your engineering discipline.
  14. Dec 24, 2012 #13
    Make friends with these people who are ahead of you. Learn from them. People love being asked about themselves and what they are doing. Introduce yourself and start asking questions.

    You can't change your life experiences up until this point, but you can make the best of opportunities that present themselves now and in the future. These people who are ahead of you are presenting an opportunity.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
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