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Learning new things is fun, yet I hate school with a burning passion.

  1. Feb 6, 2012 #1
    I'm a 2nd year math student. I'm taking 5 courses, but only 2 are math courses (differential equations and linear algebra). The rest are just 1st year electives I never did earlier (first year psychology and first semester biology). In short, I hate things like midterms, final exams, the idea of having 2 or 3, or 4 midterms in a day, you know, things like that. We've all been there done that. To make things worse, I am suffering from severe depression and I have a terrible sleep disorder. I will sleep some nights and other nights I won't. I sleep in and miss entire days of classes sometimes.

    I have dreams (or goals?) of going to graduate school and some day earning a doctorate. I want to teach higher education, but I can't imagine doing this (school) for the next 5 to 10 years. I can complete assignments and do very well on them. I don't cheat or copy answers or anything stupid. I put a lot of time and effort into these assignments, but when it comes down to an exam, I can't do it. For example, I was doing well with psychology (assignments and all), and I ended up getting 63% on a multiple choice exam (for a 1st year class). Grades like that will never get me into graduate school. I have a midterm in 7 and a half hours, and I get the concepts, I can do problems, but I feel like I'll do poorly on the exam. I hate it if I miss a class because of my illnesses (some people don't even call them that) and then I start to fall behind. I hate going to class and not getting what's going on that day because I missed the last class. Not to mention that fact that most instructor's don't care about my situation. If I was suffering from a serious physical illness, they might be more compassionate. I have talked to counsellors and they have never informed me about anything like medical withdrawal, aegrotat grades, etc. I once asked about it and the counsellor said he had no idea about how to deal with medical problems that affect school, and kept talking down to me. I told him to jam it. I went to medical services and they told me all they do is take medical certificates and say to the registrar's office whether or not it's a legitimate reason.

    I went to disability services and I was told it takes 3 months for an application for accommodation to go through. Even still, how would I be accommodated for my situation?

    I attend a 2 year college and my GPA is terrible because of my mental state. Back in high school I got straight As! I would aim for 100% on test and I would get it most of the time! I would be disappointed with 86% on a test, but now i'm worried i might get 36%. I know highschool is easier, but is the difference that big? I understand topics and I know true to my heart that my GPA does not reflect my knowledge. I have applied to a university and I've spoken to the disability services center about applying with special consideration, and even doing so, they have strict guidelines like: the illness must be showing drastic improvement, must send in letters from doctors (cost is $700 for a typed letter with a letterhead from a private doctor), things like that.

    I went in to see a disability specialist or whatever, and the way it seems, thousands of people apply for the same thing I'm applying for (special consideration). If I don't get in this year, that gives me a whole year to do what? Nothing? Retake courses? I can't afford to retake courses over and over, and even if I did, my GPA isn't going to change drastically. Take time off? So what, live with my single parent and get a job working at mcdonald's and end up getting an undergrad degree when i'm 36? I want to get school over with so I can get a decent paying career. Everyone I talk to who has a degree of some sort tells me to take my time, but it's so easy for them to say that since they're all good and done. I don't even care how much I make, I just want to be considered a smart person and be able to make it on my own. I just want to be happy, and school is making me the opposite.

    I know this is a school guidance section and not a life guidance one, but I'm sure many of you have been through similar experiences; I am not the only one. So my question to you is, how did you do it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2012 #2


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    Hey stripes.

    I read your whole post, but I wanted to focus one particular thing you said which I think is important to address:

    This is a very very subjective issue and I think its a very serious issue that warrants further discussion.

    The natural question I ask is what does smart mean to you? Does it mean having a degree? Does it mean being known by other people as 'smart' after you start talking to them?

    One thing that I want to tell you (and I tell this in all honesty) is that I see a weird kind of definition of smart.

    The thing is, many people are smart at least one thing. It may not be an intellectual endeavor like mathematics or physics but that doesn't discount anything. Some people might be hopeless at mathematics but they can win over people at the drop of a hat and know how to throw a good party and make a great night for the rest of the crowd. These kind of people might be natural born salesman, entertainers, or businessman.

    Then you get the type of people that are really really street smart. Again they might know anything intellectual, but they have the ability to see things in say a dangerous environment that might otherwise make them a dead person.

    Think about all the people out there that do all the different jobs that see things every day that add to their experience. Think about all the different roles that are played out in society even by people who are otherwise considered average on an IQ test.

    The point I am making is that smart besides being so subjective to begin with, is something that for all useful purposes be distinct from just 'intellectual' smarts or 'academic' smarts.

    You might be surprised that after meeting people who aren't academically or intellectually inclined that you learn something that might be the 'smartest' thing that you ever read.

    If you have the desire to learn, try things, and take a few risks then you will do it regardless of the environment you're in. In fact if you had that mindset you would end up moving to an environment that you can do this in.

    I felt that I had to say this because if you feel like you are defined by having a college/university degree with good marks, then that could be a very devastating thing if things don't turn out the way you hoped (which is what it sounds like). If you accept the possibility that you can very well be smart and successful without needing those things, then even accepting that possibility will allow you to see other avenues that you can pursue.

    I have had similar pressures before in my life, and one of the things that has helped me is to experience different things.

    Meet other kinds of people or communicate with other kinds of people in a nonphysical way. Read what other people have to say even if they aren't in your field of study or endeavor. Everyone has a story to tell and a message to leave you with.

    We all have our take on life, what we consider success and a prosperous life and we all have something to share. When you become aware of all of these different viewpoints you will naturally ask questions. You will question your own existing beliefs and what you thought the world was really like and perhaps you will investigate more and ask even more questions.

    You might end up seeing that a majority of your life up until a point was based on a lie. If this happens then the next step after coming to the fact is to go from there.

    From this you may find that you have become as a result, a lot more unrestricted in your thinking, your expectations, your attitude, and other things like more curiosity and skepticism of what other people say and what is accepted in the status-quo.

    Even if none of this doesn't happen to you, I guarantee when you start to look at the pockets of the world that you have been ignoring or haven't had the chance to be exposed to, you will start to think and things will not become so generalized, so clear cut, so inline with the expectations you had. From this you will question both the world and yourself and it may even cause pain.

    But hopefully you will see that there is so much opportunity out there for you even with your restrictions that people overcome all the time: many who you never hear about.

    I say the above from personal experience not as something that is without reference or without purpose. I hope that you see through your own endeavors this message and that you benefit from your experience to help you develop further in your life.
  4. Feb 6, 2012 #3
    You might want to check out "The How of Happiness" by Sonja Lyubomirsky, especialy p.266, "Commit, with passion".

    This wavering will get you know there - you hav eto decide that graduate school is a goal, and not just a dream, and then commit to it! Of course you can imagine doing it, then you just have to decide if what you imagine is realistic. As get straight As I can't see why it isn't realistic...

    Some first year classes can be tough, and 63% doesn't sound all that bad. Everyone has a bad exam - once got a D (<50%) that knocked me off base for a while... but I soon recovered and so did my grades....

    There are some bad instructors and counsellors out there. Can't do much about instructors. But you *can* do something about counsellors, keep on trying different ones until you get a good one... also, read a few books about keeping happy, with a strong scientific backing (e.g. Lyubomirsky's...)

    You need to less of a perfectionist! College is much harder and getting a 100% would be very unusual. If you make 100% your standard you will fail and that will destroy your confidence. Just aim to get better grades - 63% seems a reasonable launchpad for doing better next time. And do you need to be that much better? What % do you actually need, as a minimum?
  5. Feb 8, 2012 #4
    Well that's definitely some food for thought. That midterm on Monday actually went okay, though I haven't gotten the mark back yet. I have a biology lab exam and differential equations midterm on Thursday...it's really frustrating because I've been getting (I am not trying to brag, trust me!) perfect or near perfect scores on the assignments. But I'm getting more and more confused and I almost feel lost in the course...this makes me think I'm going to fail the midterm. I mean less than 50% fail. I can't study right now, as I need to sleep. If I don't get enough sleep, I will sleep in and miss class. As for the lab exam, well I understand the basics but I can't memorize everything...like where the rough endoplasmic reticulum is in a cell and so forth.

    I have been constantly thinking about your responses to my post, but I can't seem to figure things out. I'm waiting for this aha moment where things will fall into place. It's almost like there's something drastically missing from my life, but I can't pinpoint it. Unfortunately, life can't stop because of this; I need to keep going. But it's just so damn tough sometimes. I need to stress that I'm not trying to extract sympathy or anything, I'm just asking for advice and how you all got through it. But again, I really appreciate your responses and I am putting thought into them. Really, I am.
  6. Feb 8, 2012 #5


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    Sometimes the answers that you are looking for come from the places that you least expect them too.

    If I were only to give you one piece of advice, it would be to pay attention to everything that comes your way and not just the information that you 'expect' to recieve.
  7. Feb 8, 2012 #6
    Maybe a stupid question: are you seeing a psychiatrist at the moment?? Are you on medication?? If the medication doesn't work, then perhaps you should change the medication or change the daily dose??
  8. Feb 8, 2012 #7
    Some good advice here stripes. I thought I'd add my two cents. If you are feeling this stressed and ill, it is no wonder that you are having a tough time in school. Like others have mentioned, seeking treatment for physical or mental health issues is essential to doing well in school. Although I have not been in your exact situation, it seems to me you are looking too far ahead into the future rather than taking things one day at a time. It's hard for the best of us to contemplate finishing undergrad, getting into grad school, getting a doctorate, getting a good job, etc. without getting stressed. How about just thinking, "ok, today I will study for 3 hours for my test, eat a healthy dinner, tomorrow I will take my test, the day after I will write down any questions I had on the test and/or hw and ask my professor about them" etc. At least to me, setting short-term goals helps me stay less stressed and actually helps me accomplish more, because I'm not wasting energy on theorizing about things way in the future.
  9. Feb 9, 2012 #8
    I do see a psychiatrist/sleep doctor, a psychologist, and my family doctor regularly. I am medicated. It seems to have worked for a while, it was just in the past month or so I have felt fairly worse. I see my doctor in a week, perhaps then I will talk to her about this.

    Sweetpotato, it is definitely less stressful taking it one day at a time, but if that happens too much, midterms, exams, assignments, etc creep up on you and then one is scrambling last minute to get things done. It's really hard to find the right balance.

    Again thank you everyone for the advice.
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