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Loss of motivation

  1. Mar 8, 2008 #1
    I'm a first-year EE grad student at a prominent university, and I feel like I'm at an impasse. Basically, I've lost all interest in my research, as well as my (once strong) peripheral interests in physics and math. I have no more motivation. At the risk of sounding like I'm venting, I really have no one else I can talk to about this, and I'm hoping someone can offer me advice.

    First of all, I have serious doubts about my research group. Though my advisor is respected enough to be tenured, over the past nine months I've slowly come to the realization that he doesn't really do anything new. Pretty much everything he does is incremental, using other people's leaps. In other words, I think he might be a hack. As I would like to eventually go into academia, I worry that I am tying myself to the wrong horse.

    In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests to me that his group has a high attrition rate. Presumably, a lot of his students quit. I suspect that one reason for this is that he is a terrible motivator. I've noticed that when I come out of our meetings, I feel less enthused about things than when I entered. It's hard for me not to contrast this with my undergrad research advisor, who was able to get me excited about his topic. Lastly, for several months, he gave me little-to-no direction, and I practically had to beg him for something to work on. This is not normal for first semester students, correct?

    I stopped caring about my research topic itself, several months ago. I don't know why, it just became boring. Since then, I've been going through the motions. Also, it used to be that I learned extra math and physics on the side, kind of as a hobby (since I have no social life). I've found that I stopped caring about that, as well. Basically, my day currently consists of me going to the lab and/or class from 9 to 6 (where I phone it in), and then I come home to either play video games or read the news for the rest of the night.

    Ultimately, the problem is that I want to be motivated about things, but I'm not. I'm stuck in a rut. Can anyone who's been in a similar situation offer me tips about how to get out?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 8, 2008 #2


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    The description you have is depressing.
    Could you find a job based on your current amount of education?
    Additionally, could you change to a different research group?
  4. Mar 9, 2008 #3
    sorry to hear that. my rhetoric professor was ina similar situation. she studied chemistry, foudn out she didnt like it, and dropped out. worked for a while(i think doing groceries) and then found her true calling: rhetoric. So maybe you might need some time off and find yourself? I dont know how it'll happen, but its hard to find out what u really want to do. taking more EE classes and doing research probably wont help out. Remember you dont wanna take too much useless units before they kick you out of school.
  5. Mar 9, 2008 #4
    Kukurio, do not take time off. That is really bad advice. It seems that your loss of motivation is stemming from the fact that you practically have to beg to get any sort of work from your professor. Also, it's coming from your lack of interest in the work your adviser does have. Without the feeling of excitement from new research, full-time grad school most likely feels no different than undergrad - except that the coursework is harder. To really enjoy grad school full-time you need to have a research focus.

    I see only one solution: find a new adviser that has enough (exciting) work for you. Once you find a topic to get very excited about, your net motivation will increase. Luckily, you found out all this information about your professor during your first year. You still have time to seek out a new adviser and a new research focus.

    I am a first year EE grad student as well. If you'd like, send me a private message and we discuss this further.
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