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Should I give up on becoming an engineer?

  • Thread starter JJRKnights
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I'm 19, I am about to try to pass physics with a 60%(I might try to retake the course) but will most likely fail.. I have a 2.2 GPA and it's probably about to go down to 2.0 after this semester is over.

I have no problems with the material in the classes I'm taking, I can usually do the work. I just don't have the patience for the material. I mostly get C's and D's in my classes because I get bored. I have excellent math skills, but I average C's in all of my Calculus classes. What is wrong with me, and why can't I get an A in anything, my highest grade was a B+ in astronomy, and I attended like 4 classes total, all of my answers were based off previous knowledge of astronomy.

Should I quit engineering? I can do the work, I just don't know how to get the work done.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
vela
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Why do you want to become an engineer? Your post reeks of the sentiment "I hate this stuff." It could be because you're not as good as you think you are and the material is, in fact, difficult for you. If this is the case, it doesn't sound like your motivation for becoming an engineer is great enough to power you through to the end. On the other hand, it could also be because the stuff just doesn't interest you, so you just don't have the motivation to learn the material. In this case, perhaps you'd be better off in a major that actually interests you.

Your post also makes me wonder about how accurate your self-assessment is. For example, if you had excellent math skills, you wouldn't be getting Cs in calculus. You say you don't have patience and you get bored. It sounds to me like you get frustrated and give up.
 
  • #3
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I do get bored, I get frustrated when I feel prepared for an exam but i'm not. The reason I got an average of C's in calculus was because I only attended test days and several days in between when I felt like going and there were tons of quizzes i missed. Attendance will always be an issue for me. When I graduated high school I did so missing over half of the school days, and that carried on to my college career. I'm already into my second year and it's not slowing down, actually getting worse.

Motivation and attendance are the main problems. I'm motivated to learn but once I learn the concept I stop looking at problems, and end up falling behind. I hate going to class because I feel like it's wasting my time, I've missed several quizzes and tests because I just don't feel like going to school. But I really want to have an engineering degree.

I really like solving problems, my mind doesn't sit right with things other than engineering. If it's too much reading, I get bored, If it is too easy, I get bored and fall behind. If it's too complex, I put it off until later or see how somebody else did it.

How do you guys study, please in detail tell me how you spend your studying days, I am honestly curious to know. Also those with 3.75-4.00 how do you spend your days? Do you read every word of each chapter in your physics books? Write down every concept? How many problems do you practice?

Also, how many of you lived on campus while getting good grades? I want to try that also to test to see if the reason i do bad is because I live about an hour away from my university.
 
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  • #4
vela
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Well, there's what you say and then there's what you do. What you do is a better indicator of what you truly think and how you truly feel. You say you're motivated, yet you can't be bothered to go to class, even to take exams, or keep up with the material. You say you really want the degree, yet everything you've done (and not done) says you really don't care that much.

You're well beyond being helped by getting tips on an internet forum. There are obvious things you can do to try improve your grades, like doing the homework and going to class, yet you dismiss them because you would get bored. I really think you need to talk to someone in person about what's going on with you. Have you talked to your advisor? Your school probably has numerous resources that might help you. Take advantage of them.
 
  • #5
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The main question I really want answered now is:

"How do you guys study, please in detail tell me how you spend your studying days, I am honestly curious to know. Also those with 3.75-4.00 how do you spend your days? Do you read every word of each chapter in your physics books? Write down every concept? How many problems do you practice?

Also, how many of you lived on campus while getting good grades? I want to try that also to test to see if the reason i do bad is because I live about an hour away from my university."


I basically answered myself with all the other stuff, but how do people study? I don't know how to study, i've looked at many websites with "study tips" but their too vague and I learn nothing from them.
 
  • #6
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My study habits:

- Find a good book for the course, start first by surveying the textbook and the list of references. If none worked well, find other book(s) which can allow me to keep up with the syllabus. I often like to check which books being used by other universities.

- I sometimes just go to the relevant section or an interesting section of the library and start browsing, one can come across awesome books.

- Actual reading of the book, take my time with it (I might spend 1 hour in a single page depending on its content, not far fetched for science books), reading means reading the book along with using a pen and sheets in order to write things down, this includes writing my own explanations and definitions, drawing graphs and so.

- Doing the exercises if possible, but not all of them, some can be long (I dislike those).

- Avoiding people who annoy me (or waste my time) socially and academically (I still hang out with my good friends).

- Never giving up, being persistent and patient is a key.

- If there is something that I don't understand then I meet up with the professor/instructor or his /her teaching assistant, I don't like to ask class mates for various reasons.

- I keep my stuff well organized and tidy, this includes my desk and the place where I live.

- If the course is using slides, then I print them before the lecture actually takes place so that I can write my own notes on them.

- Study location can have an impact, I am not a fan of libraries.

- If I screwed something, then I try to analyze the situation to figure out the source of any problem(s), e.g. distraction factors.

What works for me need not work for you, so its up to you to figure out whats fits you most.

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Edit # 2: updated.
 
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  • #7
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How many hours a day do you think you spend studying? Sounds like you have a 10 hour study day or something.

I think I only have about 2-3 hours that I can study after school. Yet it doesn't feel enough.

This is my average school day:
Wake up at 7 am
Leave for school at 7:30 am
get there at about 9 am
physics starts at 9:30 am ends 10:20
I go to the school gym and work out for about an hour and a half.. (Yes it's a necessity)
Go to calc 3 at 12 am get out at 1:20
Go to chem at 1:30 end at 2:20
leave and get home at about 4 o clock, by this time i'm extremely tired.
I come home and try to do 1 to 3 physics problems per day(10-12 due at the end of the week)
Look over my calc, phys, and chem notes for about an hour total(20 minutes each).

Even after that, I never feel confident about my work, I always feel like i'm wrong when I put answers in(mainly because it's true).

Is that even suffice studying time?
 
  • #8
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When I was an undergraduate, I often skipped entire courses if attendance was not mandatory. I would only sit for the exams and usually I pulled Bs in those courses.

I was a musicology major and spent 3-6 hours in class or studying music theory/history, 3-4 hours a day playing my trumpet and 6 hours a day working a dead end job. I would only read my science textbooks casually, and I would work problems until I felt I was able to perform ably on the exam. This resulted in straight Bs in my science classes BUT I had a 4.0 in my music history, music theory, and music performance classes. I took those seriously since it was my major ... the science stuff was just interesting to me and I took it with the same seriousness (or lack thereof).

It wasn't until I ultimately decided to go to medical school that I had to really work my butt off. Since then, I've been extremely hard working, and now that I'm working towards an eventual PhD, I spend 6-10 hours a day 6 days a week doing math and physics. I find pdf versions of books and do every problem in them, I ebay and amazon textbooks that are one edition too old (so they are super cheap) and do every problem in the book. The more problems you work, the better you will understand the material and with that mastery comes more questions which makes you look deeper and learn higher levels of that material. When you have mastered those more difficult things, keep doing it and eventually you'll get to the point where you're an expert in whatever field.

The best advice I can give is work problems and more problems and even more problems, whether it be physics, math, engineering, chemistry, etc... the more stuff that is thrown at you and the longer you spend digesting all the information, the better you will be. It's kinda a no brainer, but yeah long term potentiation (LTP) is how your brain alters itself and learns and remembers things, so the more time you spend regularly solving problems and digesting the information and concepts from these subjects, the better you'll do when asked to prove that you truly understand things and can apply them via an exam, an interview, on the job, etc...

Over the years, this concept has really lost its profoundness: for ever hour you spend in class, you should spend 3-4 hours outside of class studying ... so if you have two MWF classes for an hour each, you should also be spending 6-8 hours outside of class doing problems/reading/studying. The same goes for TR classes ... if you're in those for 3 hours each day ... well between Tues/Thurs/Sat you should be spending 18-24 hours studying those courses. University education should really be significantly more time consuming than a 40 hour work week ... when you're done with school and only working a 9-5, it should seem like a breeze since you'll finally have evenings and weekends free for relaxation.

This is just my take on it many years after the fact ... I just wish I wouldn't have had to work a full time job while I was an undergraduate, because I really didn't get as good of an education as if I would have focused my time and energy on learning stuff in school.
 
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  • #9
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24/7: No way, but if I study something then I give it a good hard shot.
What I wrote in my earlier post was just a condensation of my experience through 7 years (and counting) of university education.

Naps were a necessity for me. A state of tiredness must be avoided at all costs when studying.
Even now, even after some studying or some activity I still love naps to relax and wake up with a fresh mind then start studying.
I used to go to the gym but this was during the evenings, I found it as way to de-stress.

Regarding looking at the notes, I can't say much on this matter.

The mass of my study was during the lecture free days and the weekend. This is why I tried to organize my lectures to consume as little weekdays as possible and finish early.

A suggestion: Why not go to the gym after the lectures and use the morning slot for studying or catching up with one of the courses.
 
  • #10
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Interesting, and you don't go insane working so much? [to bpatrick]

Also, I was wondering, if I dropped out of my current university with a 2.0, would I even be able to make it back to a university later on?
Or if I just dropped out and made it to another university, would I have to transfer my credits over, or could I start from scratch again? I would love to get rid of those years of bad grades to start over again.

I really hate the fact that I'm wasting my 17-21 year old life trying to get a degree that probably won't even guarantee a job. People say those years are more important to have for the memories, and then just go to college later. I'm only 19 now and about halfway done. I feel like i'm just trapped, I can't enjoy life while i'm young.
 
  • #11
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A suggestion: Why not go to the gym after the lectures and use the morning slot for studying or catching up with one of the courses.
Well I use the bus system, and it's very unreliable half the time. So I like to leave early as possible so I can make it home before dark, the only free time I have to work out is after my first class.
 
  • #12
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I find pdf versions of books and do every problem in them, I ebay and amazon textbooks that are one edition too old (so they are super cheap) and do every problem in the book. The more problems you work, the better you will understand the material and with that mastery comes more questions which makes you look deeper and learn higher levels of that material.
Ok like right now I'm having problems with a Gravitation problem, the book I have shows nothing like it, doesn't explain what to do with it, so how do I know what to do with it? I'm at home, the internet doesn't have any solution guide to it either.

I know the formulas I need for this problem, but i don't know where to start. What do I do?
 
  • #13
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Well, if I ever feel like I'm going insane, I only put in a 6 hour day doing science stuff. I'll go out with friends or my fiancee or just stay in.

What would drive me insane (and a little window into what I put up with on my dead-end job during college) is taking a pre-cut cardboard box off a skid, folding it into it's box shape, taping the bottom and folding the top flaps out then putting it on an assembly line for 6 hours straight ... with one 15 min break after the first 3 hours ... no music to listen to (had to wear ear plugs due to all the machinery), nothing colorful to look at, and the only thing that I could really see was a machine right beside me that did the exact same thing that I was doing but for boxes that were a different size (and different product) going about 10x faster than me ... really makes what you're doing seem meaningful, lol.

I'd GLADLY be spending 6-10 hour days working math/physics problems or reading papers on neurology or studying physical biochemistry or anything vs 36 hour weeks of assembling cardboard boxes or any other equally mundane dead end job.
 
  • #14
AlephZero
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I think you need to start by making a list of what you do want to do, not what you don't.

From this thread, that seems to be
1. Work out in a gym
2. Avoid travelling when it's dark.

That's not much to work with, but I guess if you moved south to avoid dark winter nights and because a sports coach, you could made a living from it.

Seriously, the world doesn't owe you (or anybody else) a living. And you only get one life, so it's a shame to waste it.
 
  • #15
Dembadon
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The main question I really want answered now is:

"How do you guys study, please in detail tell me how you spend your studying days, I am honestly curious to know. Also those with 3.75-4.00 how do you spend your days? Do you read every word of each chapter in your physics books? Write down every concept? How many problems do you practice?

Also, how many of you lived on campus while getting good grades? I want to try that also to test to see if the reason i do bad is because I live about an hour away from my university."


I basically answered myself with all the other stuff, but how do people study? I don't know how to study, i've looked at many websites with "study tips" but their too vague and I learn nothing from them.
I live 40 minutes away from mine, and distance has not been an issue. I get to the library when it opens and study before my first class. I then go to the library in between classes to study. After my last class, I study at the library until I feel like I've made an acceptable amount of progress on what I had planned to get done that day. Sometimes this means I don't get home until 10 or 11PM, but I cannot say that a 40-45 minute commute has had any negative affect on my studies.
 
  • #16
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Seriously, the world doesn't owe you (or anybody else) a living. And you only get one life, so it's a shame to waste it.
I know exactly what you mean. I feel like I'm wasting my time right now in college, because my GPA will drop until the school kicks me out.. I really don't want that to happen, but for some reason, it seems inevitable in my head that it will happen.

I'm so helpless and lost, I can't even think of a place to start to get back on my feet. I honestly will make a list of things, prioritize things in my life, even if you said it jokingly. It seems like it could be really helpful right now.
 
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  • #17
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I was kinda in the same boat, and you really have some bad **** happen, or something significant to make you mature.

Do practice problems out of the *** and you will do well on exams. Go to ****ing class. You aren't as smart as you think you are. So suck it up, and grow up. Eventually you will have to get a job, and you have to show up there on time every day.

Most of all you have to start doing things for yourself, not because you're supposed to be in college, or because you want to set yourself apart from others.

Ok like right now I'm having problems with a Gravitation problem, the book I have shows nothing like it, doesn't explain what to do with it, so how do I know what to do with it? I'm at home, the internet doesn't have any solution guide to it either.

I know the formulas I need for this problem, but i don't know where to start. What do I do?
literally take pics of your hw problems and post them on here in the help section...
 
  • #18
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I'm 19, I am about to try to pass physics with a 60%(I might try to retake the course) but will most likely fail.. I have a 2.2 GPA and it's probably about to go down to 2.0 after this semester is over.

I have no problems with the material in the classes I'm taking, I can usually do the work. I just don't have the patience for the material. I mostly get C's and D's in my classes because I get bored. I have excellent math skills, but I average C's in all of my Calculus classes. What is wrong with me, and why can't I get an A in anything, my highest grade was a B+ in astronomy, and I attended like 4 classes total, all of my answers were based off previous knowledge of astronomy.

Should I quit engineering? I can do the work, I just don't know how to get the work done.

You sound a lot like myself. I was having a lot of the same problems as you until recently when I changed my major from physics to computer science. Perhaps in your studies, you're finding that the deeper you go in your courses, the more you feel detached. At this point, look at the university's offerings. Engineering is a LOT of work; if you're having difficulties right now (especially with your 2.2 GPA) you should seriously reconsider changing majors to something a little less taxing and more enjoyable. Perhaps all the logic you enjoy about physics and math can be translated into some other major, like computer science. Don't be so narrow-minded about choosing an area of study. Do your homework and there's bound to be something for you. Talk to professors or other colleagues about this. College is the place to find yourself; at 19, you're still young, but you better act fast or things will quickly catch up to you.

Good luck.
 
  • #19
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You sound a lot like myself. I was having a lot of the same problems as you until recently when I changed my major from physics to computer science. Perhaps in your studies, you're finding that the deeper you go in your courses, the more you feel detached. At this point, look at the university's offerings. Engineering is a LOT of work; if you're having difficulties right now (especially with your 2.2 GPA) you should seriously reconsider changing majors to something a little less taxing and more enjoyable. Perhaps all the logic you enjoy about physics and math can be translated into some other major, like computer science. Don't be so narrow-minded about choosing an area of study. Do your homework and there's bound to be something for you. Talk to professors or other colleagues about this. College is the place to find yourself; at 19, you're still young, but you better act fast or things will quickly catch up to you.

Good luck.
Yes, I agree that OP should try computer science classes.
 
  • #20
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A suggestion: Why not go to the gym after the lectures and use the morning slot for studying or catching up with one of the courses.
Although this might increase alertness later, I recall one of the best times to work out is in the morning.

Moreover, to answer the initial question:
I don't have a set amount, as my schedule is not uniform and I am not blessed with the luxury of avoiding a part time job during school work (despite my good gpa). However, I work on school related subjects each day as much as I can. This is dependent on how awake I am, how interested I am, and how much time I actually have. I don't condone an unhealthy lifestyle, but I have most definitely abused caffeine throughout my university school years..
 
  • #21
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Interesting, and you don't go insane working so much? [to bpatrick]

Also, I was wondering, if I dropped out of my current university with a 2.0, would I even be able to make it back to a university later on?
Or if I just dropped out and made it to another university, would I have to transfer my credits over, or could I start from scratch again? I would love to get rid of those years of bad grades to start over again.

I really hate the fact that I'm wasting my 17-21 year old life trying to get a degree that probably won't even guarantee a job. People say those years are more important to have for the memories, and then just go to college later. I'm only 19 now and about halfway done. I feel like i'm just trapped, I can't enjoy life while i'm young.
From this post, it really sounds like you may be ultimately happier if you were to "start over" ... maybe not entirely but is there a community college or something closer to where you live that you could go part-time to? Maybe you could drop down to part-time, also work part-time to build work history, get some cash, and pay for part-time classes.

It really seems like you might enjoy the schedule you'd have if you (for example): took two classes, both on MWF, then you worked part-time on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, then you'd still be able to study a bit throughout the week (like 2-3 hours a night) and be able to go out and have some crazy Friday and Saturday nights while you're young and energetic. If you dropped down to a 2 class per semester schedule you could go part-time for 5 years and get 60 credits done including all of your gen-eds out of the way, build a really solid GPA, save up $, build your resume, establish good credit, and still be able to have enough time to work out, and spend loads of time with friends or just going out and partying on the weekends.

I'd imagine you could easily then transfer into a full time thing for the last two years and just finish up quick (probably on a good scholarship if you kept a solid GPA over those years going part-time). Then too the job market may be a bit better, and you might know more of what you want since you'll be more mature.

Everybody has their own path, good luck finding yours.
 
  • #22
Also, I was wondering, if I dropped out of my current university with a 2.0, would I even be able to make it back to a university later on?
Or if I just dropped out and made it to another university, would I have to transfer my credits over, or could I start from scratch again? I would love to get rid of those years of bad grades to start over again.
It's typically your choice as to whether or not to transfer credit from one institution to another. That said, generally employers (or future paths of education) will require you to at least REPORT all education (and perhaps include transcripts)... so you can't erase it entirely. If you don't report it when they ask you to, there could be repercussions if you are found out (especially if in the process of say, an already nasty firing process where benefits are being disputed).
 
  • #23
882
34
Don't try to become an engineer if you aren't willing to put in work.

You ride the bus for 3 hours every day and you say you don't have time to study? That's a heck of a lot of time if you ask me.

And Highway said it best here:
Go to ****ing class. You aren't as smart as you think you are. So suck it up, and grow up. Eventually you will have to get a job, and you have to show up there on time every day.
Engineering is hard work. It's not shameful to not want to be an engineer and put in the time if that isn't what you want to do. If you want to be an engineer and enjoy your 18-21 years, then you've got to learn to live without sleep. Having a 1.5 hour commute doesn't help.

As for your original question:

I went to school and got a dual major in Aerospace and Mechanical engineering. It was a s**t ton of work. I spent hours a day doing homework and studying and I had many sleepless nights when big homework assignments were due or big exams were coming up. It wasn't just me, either. Damn near every one of the kids who also did well in my classes was there, putting in the time.

But I also had a ton of fun as well. It's a balancing act.

Asking other people how they studied isn't going to help you. You wont do it, or you wont like it. Either way, you aren't going to get anything out of it. You need to work on a routine that works for you and stick to it.

But know that engineering classes get harder as you get further along. If you are pulling C and Ds now, you wont fare well at all with the higher level stuff.

My advice:
Commit
or
Change majors
 
  • #24
1,033
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I do get bored.... The reason I got an average of C's in calculus was because I only attended test days and several days in between when I felt like going and there were tons of quizzes i missed....

Motivation and attendance are the main problems.

If it's too much reading, I get bored, If it is too easy, I get bored and fall behind. If it's too complex, I put it off until later or see how somebody else did it.
I'm so helpless and lost, I can't even think of a place to start to get back on my feet.
Hmm, we both supposedly have great problem solving skills, but I can't figure this one out for the life of me. All sarcasm aside, Go To Class!
 
  • #25
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I was a lot like this my Freshman year in college. I would only go to class on exam days. I had already taken Calculus in High School, and thought that I knew it all, so why did I have to go? I thought the teacher's were boring, and I couldn't be bothered with listen or going to lecture. But, then my grades suffered because of it. I got a C in calculus my first quarter (I guess I wasn't as smart as I thought I was!), and a C in my second quarter physics class (barely passed) and I failed Linear Algebra my third quarter (I thought "Oh, this is just easy math, I don't have to go to class and study, because its soooo easy", but then I didn't know anything when it came to exam day). I seriously considered switching majors, but I was set set on physics.

What changed was I decided to go to EVERY lecture (except some, IMHO, useless humanities lectures, which I did not have to struggle with anyway). So I went to EVERY physics and math lecture (no matter how boring or useless), I wrote down everything the teacher did (I mean EVERYTHING that was on the board was in my notebook, and more), and most important of all, I did my homework (where the real learning is done). When I couldn't solve a problem, I asked friends in class, or I would go to office hours for help. The result was that I actually did well in most of my classes (advanced linear algebra was one exception where I got a C, but to be honest as an undergrad course, it was way harder than any graduate class I've taken), and I really started to think of lectures as really really fun, where the teacher was teaching me things I didn't already know (isn't that why we are in college?).

It didn't mean I studied all day. Quite the opposite, I had plenty of free time, because its more an issue of management and pacing yourself. I would not spend everyday studying physics or math (this can drive anyone crazy), but would space it out. This means I would not study on some weekdays, and put in a couple hours on a saturday or sunday (1-4 hours doing homework on a saturday still means you can play frisbee with friends, or work out, and you definitely still have all night to drink as much as you want and party).

And one last thing. I attended more class when I lived far from campus then when I lived on campus. When I lived on campus, I would skip class and drink beer (or other things) and convince myself "Hey, I'm still AT school". But when I lived off campus, it ment getting my butt all the way to campus (walking and taking the bus), and the thought of leaving campus to go home to party/sleep/wate time seemed like so much work (bus home, then walk from the bus stop), that it was just easier to stay at school and go to class.

So to tie up this long thread, I would just recommend GO TO EVERY CLASS, EVEN IF ITS SUPER BORING! I mean, thats why you (or your parents or financial aid) is paying so much money, don't waste it.
 

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