Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I just don't know what to do.

  1. Dec 7, 2005 #1
    Note: If you don't care, or think it's sad that I'm asking a community about my problems, then don't post, please. While I respect your opinion, I'd rather not hear of it.


    I'm 15, in Sophomore year. Class finals happen in 2 weeks.


    Rewind, back to 1st grade.

    I'm in school, and I'm bored. Why? My elementary school didn't bother taking IQ tests or anything of the sort, so while I learn the stuff in a matter of minutes, other people take days. The work is incredibly easy, with me being able to get perfect As without even thinking. Of course, on all reports, they say "Student not working to full potential", but who's fault is that?

    The work remained rediculous until 6th grade, when I started to have to think about what I was doing. Still fine, got Bs and such.
    Bs throughout middle school.

    Now in High school, and I'm going to FAIL! Why?

    1. I can't focus on anything for any amount of time, I always drift away. Chaos in computer classes.

    2. I have NO study habits. At all. I've never needed to study, and they didn't teach studying.

    3. I've never self-taught. I always played Videogames when I was younger, so I never thought about learning on my own.

    4. I have NO note taking habits. I don't know how to take notes, how to be organized, or anything like that.

    5. I have NO idea how to really put an effort into class. I'm too used to just lazing my way through to do anything.

    6. My counselor sucks. Not meaning to insult, really, but she watches the clock and darts out the moment school ends, and takes extended lunch breaks, and sometimes has been gone for days on end(3 days before Thanksgiving comes into mind).

    7. I'm getting low Cs in all my classes, and unless I actually learn the stuff quickly, I'm screwed. Problem? Computers. I don't have Java, so I can't teach myself it. The teacher was a nut, anyway. -.-

    8. Standardized tests are no issue. They make them way too easy. However, schools apparently don't look at the test scores to see if students MIGHT be more advanced then they are.

    I just don't know what to do. I'm stuck between not being able to work, not knowing HOW to work, and still not being interested in classes.(2 classes are too slow, 1 of the slow classes are RETARDEDLY easy, and the other two are just UGH to me(History and Biology[I normally like Biology, but they're teaching the STRUCTURE OF DNA, FFS. It's 10th grade, We shouldn't spend 3 days on A-T C-G A-U C-G Sugar-Phosphate Base-Hydrogen bonds, then DOING A FREAKING 50 POINT ARTS AND CRAFTS OF MAKING A DNA? WHY MAKE AN ART PROJECT WORTH SO MUCH IN SCIENCE???)

    >_< What do I do? I'm gonna fail my Math and Programming if I don't learn the stuff, and I gotta spend time on History too, just to make sure I know everything. Not doing well in Biology because I refuse to do art projects for half my grade.

    (Note: all contradictions are accidental, and I'll clarify if needed)

    Going nuts here, I'm gonna fail, and I CAN'T fail, otherwise I can't go on, and kids who fail don't go to college, where supposedly we learn at a much faster pace, and at what we WANT to learn.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2005 #2
    You sound depressed. You haven't really given any indication about the things you like to do other than playing video games when you were younger. I get the impression that you're somewhat isolated from people or perhaps shy. Are there family members or friends that you can talk to about your feelings? Have your parents gone to parent/teacher meetings and have they expressed their concern about your grades? You sound all so alone.

    You said that you were having problems with the computer. What difficulties are you having? What kind of computer classes have you participated in? Do you search for a lot of information on the computer about things you're interested in? You can use any of the search engines such as "Google" or "Yahoo" and it's very simple to just type in the words in the search box for just about anything that you wish to find information about on any given subject.

    Have you ever done your studying with a classmate at your home or their home? Do you have friends that could help you with the computer? You must have done some studying in elementary school.

    I think you do need to talk with someone. You didn't mention your parents. Is there a teacher that you liked from another class that you'd feel comfortable talking to?
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2005
  4. Dec 7, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I second that.

    About point 1 through 5: take your responsibility. Placing the blaim on someone else is not going to get you anywhere! See what you can do now to make the situation better. I'd advice you to see if you can take on practical work on the subjects, volunteer in a lab or something to apply your knowledge and get motivated to work on stuff again.
  5. Dec 7, 2005 #4
    Sounds like you could use a good peer tutor too, someone who has the qualities you wish to learn. Like note taking and study skills.
    It seems your well aware of yourself, yet lack the desire to push yourself harder. Make it happen, you half to take charge of your life. Where ever you end up in life, is pretty much where YOU have chosen to be. Make your choices wisely.
  6. Dec 7, 2005 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I would echo the advice of Gabrielle, Monique and hypatia, but add - you have identified the problems, now think about solutions.

    That's 2.5 years away, so there is plenty of time to correct the current situation. Also, at the very least, one can go to a junior college then transfer to a 4 year program, assuming one is not accepted to a univesity which offers 4-yr programs. So put that concern aside for now.
  7. Dec 7, 2005 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The university I attend has a peer-tutor system. Students who think they can contribute their time, volunteer to join the project; they will meet with students a few times a month who have indicated that they need support in their studies or personal life. I think it is a great initiative.

    Two quotes I like: "you're responsible for your own life, don't wait for others to do stuff for you" and: "winners work hard at things losers don't want to do."

    Take some inspiration from that :wink:
  8. Dec 7, 2005 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I felt exactly the same way for the first 2 years of uni.

    Ultimately, you've just got to decide what you think you want, decide if you actually want it, force yourself to do the amount of work you think you need to do, and then accept the outcome.

    Not much help, but I know how hard it is to motivate you to do something you're not interested in, even if you know the outcome will be worth it.

    If you want to get to the outcome, just stick at it, don't be a pussy, and try to do some work. It's worth all the turd in the end, honestly.
  9. Dec 7, 2005 #8
    look how long your first post was. don't give me that bull you can't concentrate for more than two minutes. Took me half an hour just to read it.
  10. Dec 7, 2005 #9
    Sign up for some challenging AP courses. They will force you to study.

    Who cares that you don't have any study habbits? You can just start studying anytime.....
  11. Dec 7, 2005 #10
    Meh, I'm usually fine, but when I realized all this stuff a few days ago, it's just horrible. >_<. Course, NO WAY will I commit suicide. There's too much to learn before I go!

    What I like to do: Play videogames, joke around, talk about current events/politics.

    Isolated from people? Somewhat. There's usually a group of 3-5 people I hang around with, who are considered "Social outcasts", through intellect or rebellion. Not bad influences, we agree not to do drugs/sex/crap like that.

    My dad's a single parent, and it's hard on him to take care of me and my sister, so he's kind of detached from how my grades are. However, he does look at them, and has punished me(via removal of games) on more then one occasion. However, the incentive-based reward/grade system has never worked for me.

    Problems with the computer: I spend time in my comp classes drifting around the internet, and around this website too. I have a hard time trying to do something that doesn't really interest me. I thought that programming would be okay, even fun, but I guess not. >_<

    I've searched about things i'm interested in, since I've decided to start self-teaching myself. Search engine information, while already known/old'd, is appreciated.

    I'm starting to study science with a friend who's interested in Biology. I have another friend who's in the same programming class as me, but he's lost, while I just don't pay attention. No, I never studied much for school, except for the occasional project, and in 6th grade, when we were researching "How your favorite invention works", and I researched the A-Bomb, talking about quantum particulates and nuclear fission, confusing my classmates in the process.

    My dad's basically has his own problems (Trying to start his own business, depressed, ADD, etc.), and I feel wrong by trying to have him help me with my problems.

    About who I should talk to, the thing is, I don't really feel close enough with anyone to talk about any of this stuff, which is why I'm talking about it online. Impersonal and such.

    Anyway, that's that quote. Respond as such.

    @ Monique: I'm going to try. I did a bit of research, and discovered the disorder of ADD, and I asked my dad about it, and he said it runs in the family and that he has it as well, and i've been previously diagnosed, then taken off of Ritalin after a few years, so that MAY solve the inability to focus. After that, I should be able to work on stuff much more efficiently, because I won't have 10-minute lapses of not focusing. The rest, I'll have to start putting effort into. Big jump for me. >_<

    @ hypatia: I'll look into that, and TRY to ask my counselor, assuming she's here more then 2 minutes before school starts. I'll try to put effort into it.

    @Astronuc: The main focus is that I start doing effort, right?

    About the College thing: I have a 2.35 GPA, and I need like a 3 point to get a scholarship, since my dad can't afford to pay college tuition. Am I screwed, or if I start next semester, will I be able to bring it back up? Remember I'm taking semester courses, not year-courses.

    @ Monique(again): I'll remember those quotes.

    @brewnog: I'll try. When I try to force myself to do work, I start something else, or just freeze up. Hoping to fix that.

    @tribdog: Ever hear of ADD?
    http://www.add-adhd-help-center.com/symptoms_add_adhd.htm [Broken]

    Kids can focus on something enjoyable (E.G. Videogames), but not easy, boring, tedious work.

    I've been previously Diagnosed with ADD, but I thought that it "went away" or something by 6th grade, because they decided to stop giving me Ritalin.

    @ moose: Already did. Taking College Algebra and physics next semester, and AP Physics I, AP Physics II, Pre-Calc, and AP Calc 1 next year(along with other classes).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  12. Dec 7, 2005 #11
    Sounds almost exactly like me. I recommend the advice of the older people here, since many have experienced the exact same problems. In fact, I was almost exactly like that until this year (junior year of HS). Now I'm not terribly better, but I'm getting B+'s and A-'s. I'm capable of much more, so I'm still actively trying to improve.

    My current solution involves mental "tricks". My current plan is to link the feeling of success I get during video games to schoolwork and getting up on time (I'm often tardy). Unfortunately I don't know exactly how I got to the point where I can manipulate my mental processes, but I generally tell inquisitive people to meditate. My favorite form is to think w/o words, then operate that way. It makes communication hard, but removes stress extremely effectively.

    As for note taking, it's just a learned process. Whenever a word is spoken that relates to the subject matter, write it down and make marks (= signs, arrows, etc) to show relations between that word and other words. Don't take notes on everything a teacher says: you'll just hurt your wrists that way, if you can even keep up. One useful tactic is to make a key of symbols and/or abbreviations to minimize how much writing you have to do (use "w/" for "with", "+" for "and" (unless inappropriate), etc).

    If you want to learn programming effectively, you could try making simple programs on your own time. Tic-tac-toe is really easy and will teach you the basics of a programming language. Once you make a simple program, work on optimizing it and/or expanding it (tic-tac-toe is ok, but 3D tic-tac-toe is awesome).

    As for biology class: I had to color and cut and paste, too. I spent most of the class talking (and/or flirting, of course), or working on other things. I'm still unclear on some biological processes, but I still learned plenty (a quarter as much as I should have, but a decent base).

    Anyway, good luck! Old habits die hard.
  13. Dec 7, 2005 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It requires effort as well; medication won't do it by itself. I have ADD, but wasn't diagnosed until in my 40's, so my school experience was quite similar to yours. One thing that I want to point out is that if that is indeed your problem (and it's often diagnosed by lazy doctors when there's actually something else wrong), Ritalin isn't necessarily the way to treat it. There are lots of other drugs, or even St. John's Wort herbal stuff, that might be more appropriate. For me, what works is a combination of Wellbutrin and Citalopran. Check with more than one doctor before making your decision.

    edit: Just saw your post now, Smasherman. Good tips.
  14. Dec 7, 2005 #13
    Yes I've heard of ADD. I believe there is a small percentage of kids who actually suffer from it. However, if you can concentrate on "fun" stuff but not boring stuff that is not ADD. That is being a spoiled punk. You don't like to study, boo hoo, who does?
  15. Dec 7, 2005 #14
    The problem as I read it, is that, because you were able to soak things up so quickly and effortlessly, you ended up developing no study skills. Now you're encountering things that you aren't grasping automatically, and you have no tools in place to learn them in the slow, pedestrian way that most have to use.

    You don't know how to take notes, how to concentrate in class, how to study, because for a long time, you never had to do these things.
    So, what you have to apply yourself to now is figuring out what you have to pay attention to in class: which things are going to be important to remember and learn, and how to take notes that will be clear to you about those things. Then you have to figure out how you need to go over that material at home to secure it in your mind.

    One thing I always used to write down and stick up in front of me somewhere was the sentence "If you can't say it, you don't know it." What that means, in study terms, is that you should shoot for the goal of being able to teach it to someone else. If you study the material with the goal of being able to teach it to someone else, then you automatically make sure you REALLY understand it.

    And you mentally rehearse that: imagine someone you know who doesn't know the material, and figure out what you would say to explain it to them.
    I would often write these explanations out, too, which is a really good exercise.

    In all cases, simply writing out something you want to remember, in your best handwriting, forces you to review it in "slow motion" so to speak: one word at a time. And this word by word examination of the fact or concept makes each part more precious and memorable.
  16. Dec 7, 2005 #15
    From my experience I would have to agree with Trib. I've met kids that have ADD. They can't concentrate on anything. They'll watch five minutes of their favourite cartoon and then get up and wander away because they are bored. Play a video game for a little while then put it down to look for something else to do because they are bored.
    I also tend to think that it is a habit which is aquired by people that grew up in a chaotic environment who were never taught to focus or have discipline and that it can be broken by training yourself.
    I had many of the same problems you do when I was in HS. I just had to train myself to focus. I'm still not that focused or disciplined but I'm much better than I used to be. One of the things that I think helped was reading more often instead of watching TV and playing video games. How often do you read? Do you read for your own enjoyment or just when you have to read something for an assignment?
    Writting on a regular basis is also a good way to help you focus.
    Ofcourse I'm a bookworm type and would love to be a writter someday so these things might work well for me and not so well for you.
  17. Dec 7, 2005 #16


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I would agree with this. You've grown accustomed to everything coming so easily that when you really have to work for it, you don't have the patience to do the work. If you can focus on video games, you probably don't have ADD. That's part of how ADD is properly diagnosed, by watching how kids behave outside of the classroom. If you can't stay focused on even enjoyable tasks, that's ADD. If you can stay focused on enjoyable tasks, but get bored of harder tasks, that's just plain boredom or laziness, or possibly even frustration.

    I would lean toward frustration since you were never taught proper study skills, so are now frustrated at that deficiency. This is something your teachers should be able to help you with more so than your school counselor. Ask your teachers if they can recommend someone to help tutor you who is especially good at teaching study skills.

    There are people who can help teach you better study skills, it's just a matter of finding them. Consider yourself fortunate that you've recognized these problems now, when it's much easier to get help and while you still have time to catch up. I've run into many students who enter college without these skills because, just like you, they coasted through school for so long that they never developed the skills. They have a really tough time in college until they realize this and seek help.

    Here are just two websites I came across that give some advice to address your problems. Do a google search on "Study Skills" and you'll come up with even more.

    http://www.ucc.vt.edu/stdysk/stdyhlp.html [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  18. Dec 7, 2005 #17
    As I always say,

    *Grade inflation carries with it a false sense of academic competence.

    *It is crucial to develop a personal discipline towards academics.

    *Public education sucks. (But are you any better?)-->If you want to be :wink:, then
    1) follow my last two tips :shy: and
    2).....individually do your research, deepen your understanding, develop additional skills, read beyond the curriculum...etc..etc...(individually).
    3) Finally, find a way to measure your efforts thus far (that does not involve public schools)

    *Always seek/try to increase your


    quotient without becoming incompetent!

    *And always aim beyond mere [tex]\text{Competence}[/tex]--->towards ' [tex]\text{Mastery}[/tex] ' :approve:
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2005
  19. Dec 8, 2005 #18
    @Smasher: Will remember tips. Thank you. ^_^

    @Tribdog: Slight insults aside, maybe you're right. However, I read in a book (ADD: The facts, I believe), that people with ADD can focus on something enjoyable, but not something that's boring, which can causes grades with As and Ds on the same report card. However, I may be wrong about this, so No conclusions yet. I'll ask a psychologist/physician about it.

    Good info, and I'll remember the rest of it as well, but I quoted that because it stood out.

    @TheStatuaryApe: Same with Tribdog. No conclusion, will ask/look for the book I read it in. However, I've had ADD, and my family has a history of ADD, so the likeliness seems high.

    About other points: I read. A LOT. I'm known for reading whenever I get a change, basically. I hate TV, because it drains all activity. At least in games, you do something.

    My handwriting sucks, but I'll practice writing.

    @Moonbear: I'd agree too. I'm not used to having to try to finish work, so I'm not sure how to go about trying to finish work. Will look at websites, thank you.

    @bomba: Hey again. Offtopic: I read the book, Inside American Education, interesting book. Anyway, good tips, thank ya. Above and beyond. ^_^

    So, I'll try to follow what everyone's said, and maybe say what's happened afterwords. Not sure anyone cares, but hey, even if you don't, you sounded like you do. ^_^''
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2005
  20. Dec 8, 2005 #19
    (Doublepost)What's the best way to go about homework?

    I get sidetracked, talking on comp and reading other stuff, and don't finish it.

    When, how, and where should I do my homework?
  21. Dec 8, 2005 #20
    The way I finish homework is to turn off my instant messenger, maybe put some music on (unless I have to read or write, anyway). The best time to do homework is just after school. Have some snacks available to munch on as you do your homework. A pleasant place is best for doing homework (quiet, clean air, temperate).

    If you have a larger writing assignment, it's best to write a first draft, then fine-tune it over a few days, since it will be easier to catch mistakes with the time gap (also it'll be less boring). For math, if you can, finish one day and check your work the next day. That way you'll catch your mistakes and you'll have a much more solid understanding.

    The main thing about homework is to just find a quiet place with room to
    work at, and don't stop doing homework until you're finished (if you have a huge amount of homework, you should take breaks, though). Also, I generally do an easy assignment first, to get me started.

    Comment on Zooby: You're totally right about the teaching thing; even now I'm getting a better understanding of how I get through school, by trying to teach someone else.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook