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Studying Need some guidance how to progress -- Having trouble with EE/CS classes...

  • Thread starter JeffTheStudent
  • Start date
J

JeffTheStudent

Hi, I hope my post will be clear enough, because I got a lot of things on my mind.

Some details about me, I'm a student in the best college in my country for engineering/science etc... I study a combination of EE & CS. I think I'm smart, although I have to work very hard in order to grasp concepts and improve. Before I started studying, I had an excellent salary working as a programmer.

Before I started studying, I had to do a lot of thinking whether to keep my job, and if not whether I should study more than CS. I decided to study them both, because I guess I have one life, and I want to get my degree as an engineer, something that will stay with me for lifetime.

In my first semester I got good grades, my math exams were not bad, but in my CS test I got an A+, moreover I only took 4 courses that semester. The second semester, I tried taking 6 courses (as I should), including one physics course. I couldn't complete the 6 courses, and only went for 5. I failed hard in most of my tests, and took my retests (we have one retest for each exam). Finally finished with a B+, 2 B and 2 D. Now I'm currently after my third semester, I got a B+ in one math exam, C in other one, and 3 more failures. I'm before my retests.

Well... I have to say I work hard, I don't do nothing but studying, I get up early in the morning and go sleep late at night. I do all my homework, come to any lecture and even come and ask the lectureres questions when I got the time. I should mention that physics is very hard for me, maybe it takes my time from other stuff, and also the CS courses became not easy. Moreover, because of the combination between CS and EE, I don't have friends who take my exact courses, and my exam seasons aren't arranged very good.

I currently don't know what should I do, I'm not young as I was before, all I do is study, and I fail a lot.

Thanks for any help.
 

marcusl

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Don't know where you are but in my day 3 STEM courses was a full load and four was very heavy. I can't even imagine taking 6 at once. Cut back to a normal load so you can put the time into each class to do well.
 

Choppy

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A few things that might help...

  1. It might help to take a deeper look at how you study. How much are you just reading vs. actively solving problems? How challenging are the problems you're practicing? How close are they to what you're seeing on your exams? What do you do when you encounter a problem you can't solve? Is there any way you can engage with the material in a different manner from what you're doing now?
  2. Look at your exam-taking strategies and see if there's anything you can do to improve your outcomes simply by your approach to the tests. Most schools have seminars on exam-strategies covering things like organizing your time, strategies for solving multiple choice problems, getting your short-answer points across efficiently, how to check your answers effectively, etc. They can also help with psychological techniques for dealing with exam anxiety.
  3. Not doing anything but studying is a recipe for disaster. You have to take good care of yourself so that when you do hit the books you can focus and learn efficiently. Taking care of yourself means getting decent sleep, eating properly, exercising, socializing and being constructive with your down time.
  4. The evidence thus far is that with a 4 class schedule, you tend to do well. With a 5 of 6 class schedule, you struggle. This would seem to suggest that 4 classes per semester is your sweet spot. That may not be what you want to hear as overall it may add more time to the length of your degree. But in the long run, having a higher GPA (and more importantly a better understanding of the material) after 5 years is better than scraping through with a shaky understanding in 4 years... MUCH better.
  5. Something else you might want to consider is talking with your academic advisor. Sometimes students get into trouble because they take courses they are not academically prepared for. Have you had the right preparation for the level you're currently at? What do you need to do to get to the next level?
  6. Having friends in the same boat can help. Try to spend time with people in your classes - preferably ones who are doing well, have a clear sense of purpose and don't suck away your energy. You never know when a casual discussion can make a light come on in your brain, or comparing answers can highlight a mistake in your work.
 
D

DS2C

Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique when studying? For example 30 minutes on, 5 minutes off is fairly common. Ive found that it keeps my brain fresh before it starts to get lazy and drone on without absorbing any information. You can adjust the time intervals but the premise is to keep yourself intensely focused for short effective bursts of time rather than long drawn out sessions.
 
J

JeffTheStudent

A few things that might help...

  1. It might help to take a deeper look at how you study. How much are you just reading vs. actively solving problems? How challenging are the problems you're practicing? How close are they to what you're seeing on your exams? What do you do when you encounter a problem you can't solve? Is there any way you can engage with the material in a different manner from what you're doing now? I waste each week about 22 hours of going to classes. The other time is being wasted in making HW and assignments. I got to say that if I take 5 courses for example, I can invest only 1-1.5 days in each course assignments. Each course can have really different HW assignments. For example, CS courses can have really time consuming programming assignments (4-5 assignments per semester), but each one takes a lot of time (I once had to write 6 thousand lines program with a parter during the semester, no kidding). On the other hand, physics and math courses releases one HW assignment each week, but the questions are complicated and takes a lot of time for me also. In physics/math you most of the time have the option to search for existing answers, which is also something that raises questions - how really important is to solve the problems on your own.

  2. Look at your exam-taking strategies and see if there's anything you can do to improve your outcomes simply by your approach to the tests. Most schools have seminars on exam-strategies covering things like organizing your time, strategies for solving multiple choice problems, getting your short-answer points across efficiently, how to check your answers effectively, etc. They can also help with psychological techniques for dealing with exam anxiety. This semester for example, I had only two days for studying to the Data structures exam, and 3.5 days to study for ODE. It didn't work well. but The other options are not really good as well (not taking the exam, and create some gaps with my knowledge, and I also would have problems taking the next courses). I have to say that I had 6-7 days to study for physics (electricity, relativity, magentism and so on), but still I was just like had my worst test, I couldn't solve the problems. I guess maybe in physics, I need to study harder, maybe my basics are not good as well, and maybe I'm just not goot with physics.
  3. Not doing anything but studying is a recipe for disaster. You have to take good care of yourself so that when you do hit the books you can focus and learn efficiently. Taking care of yourself means getting decent sleep, eating properly, exercising, socializing and being constructive with your down time. I try to go out in the weekends in the 4-5 first weeks of the semester, when I can still handle the tasks. Somewhere in the 6-7 week, I get really busy, and a lot of information, assignment and more is thrown. In the 11-12 week, most of the time the lectureres teaches new important subjects for the test. This semester my first exam was two days after my semester has finished, so I had to give up classes of the last week of the semester. It also something that created some gaps with my knowledge at some areas.
  4. The evidence thus far is that with a 4 class schedule, you tend to do well. With a 5 of 6 class schedule, you struggle. This would seem to suggest that 4 classes per semester is your sweet spot. That may not be what you want to hear as overall it may add more time to the length of your degree. But in the long run, having a higher GPA (and more importantly a better understanding of the material) after 5 years is better than scraping through with a shaky understanding in 4 years... MUCH better. I'm afraid that the courses are just getting harder each semester, maybe in the first semester, I got A+ in the CS course because I just had a lot of experience with programming. I'm afraid I'll take 4 and fail them also, because the exams are very hard no matter what.
  5. Something else you might want to consider is talking with your academic advisor. Sometimes students get into trouble because they take courses they are not academically prepared for. Have you had the right preparation for the level you're currently at? What do you need to do to get to the next level?
  6. Having friends in the same boat can help. Try to spend time with people in your classes - preferably ones who are doing well, have a clear sense of purpose and don't suck away your energy. You never know when a casual discussion can make a light come on in your brain, or comparing answers can highlight a mistake in your work. I don't have problems creating connections, however no one really studys this combination and in the same "semester" as I am. So I have some friends, but nobody is being examed with the same exam session as I am, which is important.
Thanks!
 

Choppy

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I waste each week about 22 hours of going to classes.
Do you mean commuting? If so, you might want to look at options for living on campus or transfer to a closer school. That's a lot of time to be stuck in a vehicle. If nothing else, you could try taking public transit and at least get some reading in over that time.

On the other hand, if you see the actual lectures as a waste of time, that's a bigger problem. If you're not getting anything out of them, it might be worth re-assessing whether you're attending the right school. Admittedly some lecturers are worse than others, but if you're just seeing all class time as a waste, it's really worth thinking about why that is so. In some cases, students find that they actually do better by not attending classes and learning the material on their own. Everyone learns in different ways.

The other time is being wasted in making HW and assignments.
But doing homework and assignments is how you learn the material. The professors don't give these out to torture you. They assign the work so that you'll get the experience you need in working with the concepts that they've been teaching. Most people learn best by actively engaging with the material rather than passively absorbing it.

In physics/math you most of the time have the option to search for existing answers, which is also something that raises questions - how really important is to solve the problems on your own.
It's critically important!

If you find that you have to look up the answer to a problem, something in your mind hasn't made the right connections and won't necessarily make them just by jumping to see how it was done. If you do see how it's done, you should then find a different, but similar problem and work your way through it. Your goal should be to get to a point where you can independently solve the problems presented using the methods covered in the lectures without having to look anything up (other than perhaps necessary constants).
 
J

JeffTheStudent

Do you mean commuting? If so, you might want to look at options for living on campus or transfer to a closer school. That's a lot of time to be stuck in a vehicle. If nothing else, you could try taking public transit and at least get some reading in over that time.
No haha, I live on campus. I have 22 hours of lectures and etc...

On the other hand, if you see the actual lectures as a waste of time, that's a bigger problem. If you're not getting anything out of them, it might be worth re-assessing whether you're attending the right school. Admittedly some lecturers are worse than others, but if you're just seeing all class time as a waste, it's really worth thinking about why that is so. In some cases, students find that they actually do better by not attending classes and learning the material on their own. Everyone learns in different ways.


But doing homework and assignments is how you learn the material. The professors don't give these out to torture you. They assign the work so that you'll get the experience you need in working with the concepts that they've been teaching. Most people learn best by actively engaging with the material rather than passively absorbing it.
I try solving the questions by myself or with the help of the professors. However, sometimes it takes a lot of time and maybe no so cost effective, because the test isn't always the same...

It's critically important!

If you find that you have to look up the answer to a problem, something in your mind hasn't made the right connections and won't necessarily make them just by jumping to see how it was done. If you do see how it's done, you should then find a different, but similar problem and work your way through it. Your goal should be to get to a point where you can independently solve the problems presented using the methods covered in the lectures without having to look anything up (other than perhaps necessary constants) What you're saying is nice, but most of the time you just want to finish the HW, because a lot of other things are on the way. If you get stuck on the same thing a lot of time, it's not always a good idea I guess. .

OK, I think I'll sit and re-think about my studying methods, and about topics where I may need to improve my basics.

Can you tell me what is your way of studying? Because let's say I don't have time for doing everything in every subject, like reading any book, creating myself more HW than exist and so on.
 

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