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Trouble With School

  1. Nov 29, 2008 #1
    Hi, I know someone out there has gone through my problem already or at least something similar, so i need some advice.

    I'm a senior in high school, next year I start college. I'm not and never have been top of any class. I lack the discipline to get my studying done, and to do my homework also. I'm not dumb, I'm actually incredibly smart, and as long as I study I have always been able to get high A's on every test, sometimes I barely even need to do that and I still get the good grades. The problem though is that I can never make myself do it, I know I need to study, but I just can't keep myself motivated to do the studying or the homework. I'll get a planner and I can't get into the habit of using it, I'll make a list of things to do and I'll be daunted by it, it seems that the only way i've ever been able to make myself do the work is if I go somewhere like the library and do it but from my house the nearest bus station is an hour walk, my school library closes after school is over and even if I do go to the public library its in a very rough part of town (downtown Tucson, AZ...gangster/neonazi/druggy/crazy-homeless-people central).

    So my request is that somebody offer any form of advice that could help me, I need to know how someone else did it, because all of the conventional ways that i've tried don't work. I'm very interested in learning, but lazy. I love knowing things, but hate the process of it unless I'm in class. I want to go to some form of graduate education after college, which means I need a really good technique...please and thank you for your help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2008 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
    Just one...but the light bulb has to really want to change.

    It's an old joke, but it illustrates the point. You know what you have to do - knuckle down and do some work - but you don't want to. When you want to badly enough, you'll do it.

    As a wise man once said, "discipline is the art of remembering what you want."
  4. Nov 30, 2008 #3


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    Why is it that the library works for you, but your home doesn't?

    My guess is that you don't have your own study space - a place where you don't have the television or internet access or video games (or even somewhat constructive projects) to distract you. Also you need a time that you dedicate specifically to studying - where your family and friends know not to disturb you. I would suggest doing your best to set this up at home.

    Then, as Vanadium suggests, you have to add in some self-discipline. The best hint I have in finding this is identifying what things distracts you, dedicating specific times to those things, and then dedicating specific times to accomplishing your other goals.
  5. Nov 30, 2008 #4
    PROTIP: Spend less time on forums/internet, more time slaving over a book.
  6. Nov 30, 2008 #5


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    Are there any subjects you have an easier time studying than others? Perhaps some interest you more than others, and therefore are easier for you to sit down and study.

    As Choppy points out, it also seems there are specific distractors that you could identify, since you are able to get your studying done in a place like a library. What are you doing when you're not studying but should be? Are you watching the TV, listening to music, surfing the internet, IMing friends, talking on the phone, etc.? If you identify those distractors, create a study space that does not have them. If you usually study, for example, at your kitchen table with people talking around you, friends calling, TV on, etc., maybe it's time to move into your bedroom...and move the distractors out to another room. If you need to do your homework on a computer, make sure things like IM and email are turned off so your friends aren't distracting you. Leave the TV in another room.

    Clean the extra clutter off your desk. Clean your room. I have always had trouble working in a cluttered space, unless the clutter is all material specifically related to the project I'm working on...I can surround myself with stacks of papers and books all related to my project and work well, but if I have too much other stuff piled up, I can't focus well at all. So, the first step I take before starting on any major project is to clean! This may be the issue for you too...everyone assumes people study well in a library because it is quiet, no TV, etc., but for me, the key was to have that huge, empty desk or table to work at. I used to be just as good at studying in a noisy cafe as I was at the quiet library, because both spaces were free of extra clutter.

    By the way, you should be encouraged that you realize this before starting college. A lot of students can do well in high school without really studying much or trying very hard, but don't realize that college level material will not always come to them so easily. If you at least realize this is going to be an issue when you start college, you are a step closer than many other students to acquiring the study skills you will need. And, if you at least know there is one location where you CAN effectively study (the library), then when you are on a college campus, you'll know where to go to do your work...and the library will be much closer and more accessible on a college campus than it is when you're trying to get there from home.
  7. Nov 30, 2008 #6
    I've been through the same situation - it has taken me well over six years to get over it, trying one failing strategy after another, before recognising the wisdom in what I had been taught by my elders - and I can recommend one thing - the bare-knuckle approach.

    1) Identify your distractions. TV, computer, whatever.
    2) Destroy them. Simply stop doing them. And I don't mean reduce, I mean plain stop. And no gradual stopping, either - you set a date, and after that date, you end it.
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