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Staying motivated after graduate acceptance

  1. May 2, 2012 #1
    My final quarter of school is a little over halfway through, and I'm finding it very difficult to stay motivated. I've been accepted to and am planning to attend a good graduate program next year, and, while I need to make sure I pass all of my classes, I don't have any reason to put much effort into them. I'm falling behind in my classes, and while I don't think I'm in any danger of failing, having a backlog of work increases my stress a lot. Every time I sit down to get anything done, I just think about all the other things I could be doing, and I totally lose my patience and focus. I've been pushing myself for ~4 years now and I'm just losing the energy to do it. Any advice?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2012 #2


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    At this point rather than working just for the marks, perhaps try to shift your focus onto learning the material for the joy of understanding it.

    It might also help to come up with a plan for your summer between undergrad and grad school -something fun that you can look forward too. Plan a backbacking trip around another continent for example.
  4. May 3, 2012 #3
    I'm in the same boat, but my last final is tomorrow. For me, it makes life a whole lot easier. As Choppy said, I can just focus on understanding the material for fun. You are going to grad school for something you like, right?
  5. May 3, 2012 #4
    I don't get it. Don't you have any pride out of doing well? You were really studying this whole time just for the pragmatic entry into a graduate program?
  6. May 4, 2012 #5
    Yes, I'm doing something I like a lot. I'm very excited to be going to graduate school. (We'll see how I feel about that after the first couple of months though... :p)

    Doing well at what? I was highly motivated to study physics because I love physics and I wanted to be able to keep doing it. I'm still motivated to study physics because I love it. I have been studying advanced statistical mechanics and QFT outside of class because it excites me and I want to be able to use it when I start doing research. It's just that I have no drive to do my umpteenth Griffiths problem set or analyze yet another gamma-ray spectrum. I've already demonstrated to anybody who matters (myself, professors, my family, admissions committees) that I'm at least somewhat capable of doing physics, so how does getting 3.5 grade as opposed to a 4.0 in my final quarter change that? There are also things I want to do besides physics that are much more engaging than calculating such and such retarded vector potential, like hanging with my girlfriend, learning music theory, learning to play piano, working out, etc.
  7. May 4, 2012 #6
    I don't get it. These alternatives were around the entire time. Why were you studying before? What has changed to stop you from studying now?

    Well, we know what has changed. You got accepted, which is why I probed you on the grounds of whether you studied pragmatically only to gain entry into a graduate program. This possibility seems to have insulted you, but you haven't provided any alternatives to it to explain your behavior.
  8. May 4, 2012 #7


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    I think that's a fair question.

    At some point with coursework you can reach a point of diminishing returns - where you're solving problems that you've solved before and you're not getting much out of them other than the marks. This isn't all that uncommon for a senior undergrad, particularly when some courses overlap or for whatever reason you're taking classes out of the intended order.

    Sometimes in these situations you just have to gut it out because even though you've already been admitted to grad school, other things such as scholarships and the level of financial support through graduate school can be tied to your undergrad GPA. So it's usually worth the effort to maximize that GPA as much as possible.
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