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

  1. Aug 1, 2017 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2017 #2


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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.
  4. Aug 1, 2017 #3


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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.
  5. Aug 1, 2017 #4
    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.
  6. Aug 2, 2017 #5
  7. Aug 2, 2017 #6


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    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.

    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.

    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).
  8. Aug 2, 2017 #7

    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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