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I need support, I'm in a rougher patch than usual

  1. Sep 20, 2015 #1
    Hello. I am a physics student and recently I have not done so well. This is one of those times when even your best effort isn't enough.

    I have had those before and have come through, I know I can, I just don't believe it right now,.
    And I really love this ****, I really do, that's why I am so scared, I don't want to do anything else.

    Any advice?. Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2015 #2
    You have to find out why you're struggling. Dig around, find out where your weaknesses are.
  4. Sep 20, 2015 #3


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    Education Advisor

    What do you mean by "not done so well?" This can range from flat out failing to getting slightly less than an perfect grade.

    In the latter case often the best strategy is just to accept that you're not perfect and move forward.

    In the former case, as suggested above, you need to figure out what it is that isn't working. Some of the usual suspects include:

    1. Being on your own for the first time. Having to cook and look after oneself can be a challenge for some students. Changes in diet and sleep habits can lead to lethargy, which interferes with your ability to take in new information and solve problems.
    2. The talent bottleneck. In high school you're competing with a more general population. In university, particularly in the upper year courses, you're competing against a group that has specifically chosen to major in the same subject as you (and tend to perform well in it). The probability is that in terms of academic performance you've slid from well above average to something a lot closer to the mean under such circumstances.
    3. Old study habits. Building on that last point a lot of "bright" students find they can often do well in high school without putting in a lot of effort. In some cases putting in effort even becomes frowned upon. And then when you're in a more competitive atmosphere, those old habits are not strong enough to deal with the onslaught of new information and challenging problems.
    4. Environment. Do you have a quiet study space? Do you have a room mate who comes in drunk at 3:00 am every night and wake you up to tell you about his drinking misadventures?
    5. Social factors. Are you lonely? Are you blowing off steam in a constructive manner?
    6. Time management. Have you bitten off too much for the semester? Are you overloading course-wise, and trying to balance a job that demands 20 hours of your time every week, and a one hour commute? Do you have any time sinks (video games, internet, partying) that pass the point of healthy recreation and interfere with you achieving your goals?
    7. Not seeing the forest for the trees. Some student get seriously hung up on details to the point where they are unable to move forward in a course. You should be putting some sweat into the details of course. But occasionally people can get hung up on a problem that turns out to be an error in the textbook, a disagreement on a definition, or some situation where a key piece of information was not provided. If you can't let go of a problem you can easily spend a weekend fretting over one thing, where you could otherwise be using that time to learn other things.
    8. Quality of instruction. Are you generally happy with your professors? Are others? Do you feel that you're getting your money's worth for your courses?
    9. The accumulation of small negative factors. Are you reading ahead in your courses so that you come into lectures with good questions? Are you reviewing old material at all?
    Anyway - there are lots of reasons a person can struggle and they have solutions - to varying degrees. Don't be afraid to have a hard look at what you're doing and make a serious effort to pinpoint your problems.
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