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Other I feel like others want me to give up but I don't

  1. Mar 19, 2016 #1
    I'm a first time poster(little bit of a lurker though). I am a physics major at a smaller state university in Texas, and my track(or concentration) is astronomy. I just switched my freshman year over the summer to this major from environmental science. I'm having to retake my physics and calculus this semester, and I'm not failing, but I'm a c average student. Just about anyone else I know is an A student, but I'm just a little bottom feeder. I talked to my family, and they just want me to be happy, but I think they want me to give up. I think my physics professor is feeling the same, but dammit, I don't want to give up. I'm tired of just giving up when it doesn't work out, I like physics, I really do, and I do study, and go during office hours, I go watch the MIT lectures, and I work out problems from Halliday's book. I've even started redoing algebra again because I want to get better. I'm working at a planetarium, and I do research on a binary system with another professor, and am learning to use our telescope proficiently and study while I wait in the wee hours of the night for exposures to be done. I've gotten pretty far in my life considering the past, and I don't want to be told to just leave this field. I want to be in astronomy, I want to work at an observatory, but I can't help but feel this over my head. I'm a c student, not an A like everyone else, and I feel like since I'm not good enough, they don't want me there. How do I kick it to the curb? I know I'm not the fizziest soda in the box, but I busted my butt to get this far in life, I'm not about to go down for the count just because I'm not acing every class I sit through all in one round with no confusion. If tl;dr, then I just want to ask how do I stop feeling like I should just abandon this field for something 'easier'?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2016 #2

    QuantumQuest

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    Gold Member

    There is no magic recipe for success and this applies to each and every field and level, in the whole life. Patience,concentration and strong determination, are usually three pillars of success. I don't know if you are really sure about the switch you made i.e. if it is what you really want to do. If it is, then just go for it. I think that the problem is to be effective, and this requires more than mere efforts. You really have to take account of what you need, in order to fill potential gaps in your knowledge/ expertise, in relatively small time and get on the "main board" of what you need to learn further. This, inevitably requires to know, what you know well and what you don't. And what keeps someone on track, is a strong will to achieve a goal. So, I think, the problem boils down to how determined you are to achieve your goal and how much time and efforts you are willing to spend.
     
  4. Mar 19, 2016 #3
    Dont try to improve your grades alone. You have resources such as your professor, and you should really have a heart to heart and show him or her that you have a passion for astronomy, but that you are struggling with the material. I guarentee you that your professor probably thinks you dont really care about it because of your grades; if you talk with him or her it is almost certain that
    he or she will help you out as much as possible. But aside from that you could talk with your classmates and ask them for help. Dont be afraid to ask others for help. Also, just spend time reading and studying. You cannot spend too much time chasing your dream of being an astronomer.
     
  5. Mar 19, 2016 #4

    Choppy

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    You might start with dropping the "I'm a C student" label.

    You're a student who is currently getting C grades, and you want to do better. It's a given that C grades are highly unlikely to lead to advanced study or a career in astronomy, so you need to figure out how to grow from what you're doing now.

    To do that you have to take a hard look at your current studying approach and start modifying it, because the devil really lies in the details.

    Okay, but how much and what are you studying? What do you spend the majority of your time on, and when? Do you read ahead in the lectures and come to class with questions? Do you read over the relevant chapters in the textbook? Do you identify specific topics that you don't understand and seek other references? And how much time is spent problem solving?

    Are you finding this helpful? Does your professor or TA help you understand concepts you're struggling with, or do you leave with more questions than you came with? Is this an efficient use of your time? Would you get more out of sitting down in the library and working through things yourself than travelling all the way to your professor's office and then waiting in line and listening to the professor answer the questions of other students?

    Are you finding this effective? Or is this mostly just a rehash of topics covered in your class that you're already comfortable with?

    What kind of feedback system do you have? How do you know whether your answers are correct? What about your methods? How much of your study time is spent doing this? Where are you getting stuck?

    Great. It's important to review the concepts that aren't coming back to you quickly. But how much review do you need and are you quick to identify the specific material that's giving you trouble. I've seen some people who review by going over a lot of stuff they already know. While this can build confidence, you only have so much time.

    This is all good stuff too. One thing to consider though is how thin you might be stretching yourself. At the first year level I think it's more important to concentrate on classes and grades so that you build a strong foundation for later work. If you're doing well in your courses then of course getting involved in research is a good idea, but if you're struggling, that time might be better spent doing other things.

    And if you're a night owl, studying into the wee hours of the might can be a good thing. If you're not, this could be part of the problem. You need sleep and one of the first and foremost rules of effective studying is taking good care of yourself - including getting the sleep that you need, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining healthy relationships.
     
  6. Mar 19, 2016 #5
    This is kinda why I'm here now, I had it on the back burner for a couple of years and had went through trade school and two other majors before deciding. I do see your points though, and I do agree. No miracle will occur into success, that's all up to the person looking to achieve it.


    I'm actually pretty close with them in a way, and its part of how this got into my head. They mentioned needing a plan b..well, this was it. I had no plan if I couldn't cut it for this. Now I do, but of course, but I'm not gonna go switch just because of one comment like that.
     
  7. Mar 19, 2016 #6
    I spend the majority of my time working out problems in the text book and doing algebra, after I'm done with homework for my other 3 classes. I study for about 4 hours a day, take a break, and then try at it again. Its hard, because I have the attention span of a gnat, but I just try to ignore that and keep trucking. I will do problems out of the text book on the chapters we're on, and if/when I get into a road block, I go to their office to get help. I do this all the time. I spend about 4 hours a week in their office, sometimes more. I've gotten to the point of even knowing there isn't other students visiting because I spend so much time in there and have figured out the pattern of who exactly comes by, what time, and learning that hardly anyone comes by anyways.
    Working at the planetarium isn't hard, its actually minimal student worker type of stuff. I have learned quite a bit with it, but its nothing that bothers my studies. Doing research isn't that hard either, because most of it coincides with my two astronomy classes; which I enjoy quite a bit. That and we only meet twice a week, if weather is good those nights. I think a big part of my problem is not understanding the concepts. We have talked about it and they think reading it aloud and comprehending what goes with what, and putting it where I have used it will help. But I also think having system would help too. I'm doing a lot better than last semester, but I have a lot of room for improvement. I have changed sleeping habits, I used to stay up way too late reading and get up early for 8 ams; bad choice on my part. My mental status may play a part, but I honestly don't think it does. I just think I need to stop letting things get to me, and find a way to work at what I need to succeed. How I can do that though, is a little more challenging.
     
  8. Mar 20, 2016 #7
    I can't really help but I too, have the attention span of a gnat, that and my mental problems have me reconsidering university everytime, I just want to post here that do what you want and dont feel too isolated or alone. I am sure someone else is struggling in your course too..maybe try different ways of learning such as mindmapping, among others.

    Good luck.
     
  9. Apr 7, 2016 #8
     
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