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Insights Work Ethic Is a Key to Success for Science Majors - Comments

  1. Dec 15, 2017 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2017 #2


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    Uh ... why on Earth would you think it's limited to science majors? It's a key to success for damned near EVERYTHING
  4. Dec 15, 2017 #3
    Well this is PHYSICS forums, so I think tailoring the article to STEM fields would be appropriate?
  5. Dec 15, 2017 #4
    Great write up Dr. Courtney. Saw this when I was at a stop light and bookmarked for when I got home.
    In regards to time management and course load, what would you advise for break periods? I ask because I frequently find myself inconsistent with my study habits. For a few weeks, Ill spend around 6 hours in the library per day studying, writing notes, doing assignments, practice problems, etc. But after a couple weeks of this I start to get a little burnt out and have a full week of minimal effort. Then I spend the week after catching back up.
  6. Dec 15, 2017 #5

    Dr Transport

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    To help find your way and get some techniques on studying and time management, try this website and the writers written books. http://calnewport.com/ I have read 3 of the 5 of them and started to incorporate those lessons into my everyday work and I see some improvements. I also sent these books to my niece and nephew who will be going to college next year as Christmas presents hoping that it helps them get a better handle on their college careers and majors (physics and electrical engineering respectively).
  7. Dec 15, 2017 #6


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    As I am not familiar with the US homeschooling system I found the first two sections hard to follow. Sure, things like "work before play" are easy to understand, but the parts about credits, courses, not courses, required days of whatever and so on all assume that you are familiar with the system.
  8. Dec 15, 2017 #7
    As someone else noted, I highlighted the importance to science majors, because of the readership and the people described in the article.

    I've found it useful to interleave humanities with science and math, spending at most 1 hour at a stretch on any given science or math course and then circling back around after time in other subjects. Meals and chores also provide useful breaks. There is not enough time in the week to do things like take breaks for video games or sports between study sessions. Most college students really have to finish work for the day before shifting to those. I certainly did.

    Thanks for the feedback. There are 50 different homeschool systems in the US - one for each state. One common feature is that many require home schoolers to complete the same 180 days of instruction that many public systems have.
  9. Dec 16, 2017 #8
    Yes good article. I believe good study habits triumphs all.
  10. Dec 16, 2017 #9


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    Excellent insight. I may encourage my elder daughter to read it. We have similar rules in our house, and even though she isn't always thrilled about it she usually understands the logic behind it. She has pointed out that her friends often study until midnight or even later, often because they take breaks to watch one (or more) TV shows, or because they are involved in an unsustainable number of extra-curricular activities. Somehow she is usually done with homework and in bed reading well before 10.

    Since there are real limits to how much time they can spend on homework without a break, we have encouraged our daughters to find other important activities like exercise or practicing musical instruments that act to rejuvinate them when they need a break from homework. My elder daughter will usually be more productive if she practices in the middle of her homework time than if she simply tries to push straight through. It is almost as if the discipline of practicing helps her mind focus on academics as well as music.

  11. Dec 18, 2017 #10


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    I couldn't agree more.

    There was this guy who understood the concept of quantum chemistry more than anyone else in the Lab, much better than the advisors, objectively speaking. Everyone called him a genius for understanding them, even though we had the worst quantum chemistry classes possible in which the teachers were completely unwilling to teach anything.

    But I know that this guy stood up late -- sometimes not even sleeping -- for days and weeks in an attempt to understand one certain concept of quantum chemistry, and never gave up until he understood.

    I believe this is pure work ethics.

    So many people out there refrain from studying quantum physics at least in my department because of the peculiarity of the subject when first encountered. Together with the worst quantum physics classes that we had to take, so many people didn't want to study them. I hate it when these people say "I tried my best to understand but I couldn't", because I will tell them that they were nowhere near close to trying their best. The guy I mentioned above, is what I call "real" trying the best. He studied alone without any guidance and yet he has achieved correct interpretation and principles of quantum chemistry by devoting himself to it.

    Now, I don't necessarily recommend staying up all night to understand something. Most people will be unable to think straight doing that and at some point it is going to be waste of your time. You should get at least 6 hours of sleep, and you may still end up with the same outcome in the same given time. However, work ethics IMHO makes up 60% of the success. In my experience, the rest is pretty much talent and environment.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  12. Dec 18, 2017 #11
    Indeed! But working hard is only the first half, the second is working smart and efficiently. Any fool can put in the hours, but you make the biggest gains by studying with a strategy and technique. Also underrated is how important proper nutrition and sleep are to studying. You would not grind a high performance car into the ground using cheap fuel and oil so why do we do it with our bodies?
  13. Dec 21, 2017 #12

    Mister T

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    I wonder how much those percentages he assigned to himself are influenced by the behaviors he sees in his peers. For example, the people he tutors. As you know, our society is filled with a lot of grade-gifted laziness that he never experienced.

    Kudos to you for helping him become a great person!
  14. Dec 23, 2017 #13
    Here’s my take. Degree of success in any field of endeavor is a function of the following primary factors:

    1. Ability
    2. Resources
    3. Work Ethic.

    Ability is innate and determines the potential maximum level of success that can be realized by an individual. The level of success that is actually realized by the individual depends on the resources available to the individual and on the work ethic of the individual. Resources include, e.g, time, money, teachers, instructional material, and equipment. Depending on the field of endeavor, different weights can be assigned to the above three factors. And, as in most instances of human activity, blind luck (good or bad) is also a factor in the degree of success.
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