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Courses Scared about college -- First time I've been scared of academics

  1. Aug 22, 2016 #1
    I've always been the "Doesn't study but does well" type. Not only have I been informed of this being basically impossible in college, but I've also learned that my major, (Computer Engineering) is quite a bit of work.
    This I do not mind. I enjoy the work. What I worry about, is being able to understand the material. I've been told that it can be quite complicated. I need a B or higher in most of my courses to keep my computer engineering major. I am currently enrolled in Computer Science 202(I think it's 202, it's basically a programming class for those with prior programming experience.) Physics 1, Calc 1, and intro to ENGR.
    Later on of course I'm dealing with other classes such as circuit theory, diff eq and the sort.
    I've always been average/above average at math but this stuff seems a bit intimidating. Not to mention how every time I say what I'm majoring in, others act like it's impossible. Not for me, simply in general. I'm quite scared to start college now. I always had the optimistic view of "So long as I study and dedicate time, I'll do fine" but drop out rates and others opinions are really making me worry I'm not intelligent enough for this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2016 #2

    Fervent Freyja

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    Just do it regardless of how much anxiety you feel at the moment. Register for classes, go to class (be prepared), and take it day-by-day at first. It isn't as overwhelming as it seems when you can maintain the overall organization of your course load. But, you cannot allow yourself to slip. Don't start out missing any classes, never turn in work late, or come unprepared for an exam (or to class)! This is different than high school and requires a lot of self-discipline and multi-tasking. If you can stay organized well enough in the beginning and stay on top of the work, then you should be fine. It really isn't about being intelligent 'enough' for college, it's more about how hard you're willing to work to learn and well you can stay focused, motivated, and organized. Many people allow their anxiety and self-esteem to defeat them, when it hadn't been their intelligence or competency, they probably didn't try hard enough! Believe in yourself. Take it day-by-day and don't it overwhelm you!

    It's okay to have some anxiety. That is normal for everyone starting out. And also, people who've had years of college still get nervous every now-and-then! I just read through a 41 page long syllabus- who in the world does that? Probably to scare their students!
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  4. Aug 22, 2016 #3


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    This part doesn't bode well:
    You can get away with that in high school, but more than likely not in college. I'm less concerned with how intelligent you are or aren't, but more concerned that you're taking classes with significantly higher workloads than what you've seen before, and covering material at a faster pace.

    Without knowing what classes you've had in high school, and how well you did in them, it's hard to predict how difficult the classes you listed above will be for you. If you did above average in your math classes, that's one thing, but if you did only average, starting with Calculus in college will be difficult.

    You've picked a major that isn't an easy one. An important predictor of how well you do in them is how disciplined you are at keeping up with the reading and homework, which will likely be two to three hours per hour of class time.
  5. Aug 22, 2016 #4


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    I'm willing to bet most people who drop out do so not because they aren't intelligent enough, but because they don't/can't put in the time and effort required to learn the material. When the going gets tough, those who don't really want to be there are the first to leave. Even many who do want to put in the time and effort simply aren't prepared for how much of both they have to put in, or haven't yet learned effective time management.

    Dedication is key. If you put in the required time and effort, you will almost certainly make it through. If you haven't already, I highly recommend looking into strategies for using your time effectively. Make schedules, ensure your study environment is actually helpful (don't study in your room if you are easily distracted by video games or computers), that sort of stuff. I'm serious. I don't care if you don't think you need it. You do. No really, you do.
  6. Aug 22, 2016 #5


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    I think it's only natural to feel intimidated at this point. Yes, it's going to be tough. And yes, you'll have to do a heck of a lot of work if you want to earn some decent grades, but it's not like you're attempting something that's impossible. Thousands of people graduate with degrees in computer engineering every year. Some tips on how to be one of them:
    1. Try to focus as much as you can on the opportunities that you have in front of you. Hopefully you decided on this major because you have a deep interest in the subject and now you have the chance to learn about it in great depth, and from people that are researchers in the field at that.
    2. You need to study to do well in university. Plan on it. Make time for studying and be disciplined about it.
    3. You're not on any kind of predetermined path. If something's not working, you can change it. If your classes are too overwhelming, you can always drop one to make more time for yourself. If you're having trouble studying, seek guidance on studying techniques, taking good notes, exam-taking strategies, etc. And if you give it the ol' college try and it's really not working for you, you can always change majors.
    4. Remember that there will be hundreds, if not thousands of other students in the exact same boat as you in a few weeks... new to the campus, new to university lectures, new to each other. Be willing to make new friends. Seek out positive people with similar interests and passions. University can be one of the easiest places to meet new people.
    5. Take care of yourself. Eat healthy. Get good sleep. Exercise. Try as much as possible to stay in positive relationships and avoid the negative ones when you can.
  7. Aug 23, 2016 #6
    I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!! I see so many STEM students who do not consider this point and end up failing classes that they could have easily passed. Yes, it really is sometimes worth foregoing an hour or two of studying to get more sleep before an exam (and in general). In college you will find people bragging about how little sleep they got the night before, as though being busier and more stressed means they're more important.
  8. Aug 23, 2016 #7


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    OMG! I started college yesterday and I'm loving it. I signed up for all the study groups available for my courses so I do all my homework first and then browse PF.
  9. Aug 23, 2016 #8
    Thank you very much, this put me at ease a good bit. I'm just expecting that I'm going to be spending hours studying for the first time in my life. An odd transition.
  10. Aug 23, 2016 #9
    My senior year I took College Algebra/Trig. I never took a math class my freshman year, so I never caught up with my year to take AP Calc 1 like I actually wanted to do my senior year. (Didn't know how much I liked math until later on, sadly).
    It was an absolute joke, difficulty wise. I needed to complete a placement test just to take calc 1 in college, so I'm hoping that their test is an accurate measure of capability.
  11. Aug 23, 2016 #10
    Yeah, I've started looking up ways to prepare for the workload of college. I've always been lazy and bad with time management. I really need to perfect this for college.
  12. Aug 23, 2016 #11
    This is absolutely crucial. Don't be intimidated by whatever intelligence needed. If you passed high school, you surely have what it takes on intelligence department. But being lazy and bad at time management, that is what could screw you over.

    Whatever you do, don't fall behind. Keep track of the course always. Do the readings and the homework always. It doesn't matter if there's a fun party or not, you shouldn't go until you completed everything you needed to complete.

    When I started my undergrad, it was said that over 50% would not make it through the first year. That turned out to be true. But I noticed that the people who dropped out absolutely were intelligent enough. They just lacked the willingness to work for it.
  13. Aug 23, 2016 #12


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    I was the same way when I started. I took a couple of basic classes when I was in the military, but found that I had huge problems with not doing the work. It wasn't until years later when I started going to college full time that I learned that I needed to get out of the house to a quiet place if I wanted to get anything done. That probably had the single biggest impact on my performance, as I was able to sit down and study/do homework for hours at a time instead of minutes like I'd do at home.
  14. Aug 23, 2016 #13
    Luckily my dorm offers a quiet study zone with no distractions. I'll likely go there to study, away from my computer. There I have 0 distractions and will be forced to work.
  15. Aug 23, 2016 #14
    Make sure it's actually monitored... a lot of times that is where people go to have phone calls :p It can get annoying! I would advise a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
  16. Aug 23, 2016 #15


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    Why does everyone look at studying as work. You shouldn't be forced to put in the work, you should want to.
  17. Aug 23, 2016 #16


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    I think it's partly semantic or vernacular in nature. People tend to describe it this way because studying is often spoken of as a series of necessary tasks that lead towards a specific goal. Many of the tasks may be enjoyable on their own, and in most cases the goal itself is pleasurable, but working through a series of tasks, even if they are generally interesting or even fun requires self-discipline and focussed attention - qualities commonly associated with working. So that's just how people tend to describe the process.
  18. Aug 23, 2016 #17


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    I want to do my calculus homework (or maybe I just want to get it done), but I don't enjoy it. It's tough, frustrating, and I could put those 10-20 hours a week into something which I actually enjoy, such as video games. But I know that I need calculus to get my engineering degree and get a job, so I force myself to do it. That's not to say that I hate calculus or math in general. I enjoy having the knowledge and skills and being able to do math, but it is not something I would call "fun".
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