Next semester is starting soon, and I need all the motivation I can get

Last semester was a disaster for me. I couldn’t really get out of ‘winter break’ mode mentally, and I didn’t really work very hard. I didn’t like to think about school when I wasn’t in my classes, and as such worked little on study, research, and reading. College, sadly, felt like a chore to me, and I dragged my feet through the Spring semester. My grades were very disappointing, and I started to re-evaluate what I was doing.

This semester gives me a chance to turn things around, to make right all the errors I made before, in a sense. But with me, it is going to be something I am going to have to concentrate on every minute of every day of the semester. I kind of view trying to get good grades as the same as someone who is trying to quit smoking/drugs. You can’t just say you’re gonna do it, and expect it to happen. And you can’t give up halfway, you have to see it through.

I have a very bad habit- when I do badly at something, I get so discouraged that I want to quit. When I am doing badly in a class, each day in that class makes me feel stupider and stupider. Everything academic around me gets magnified a thousandfold- hearing about cousins who are taking AP classes, or going to graduate school. Sometimes I want to quit school but honestly I’ve come so far I might as well see it through.

School comes easily to some people. They learn things quickly, or even if they dont, can be very consistent with their work, study for hours at a time, eat, breathe, and sleep with the material running through their head. I can’t. I can’t really study/work on anything for longer than 15 minutes before I so bored and apathetic with it I can’t go any further. I picked a major that I thought I could stay interested and motivated in (English) and take many literature and survey classes, but though I like to read, not everything I read is terribly interesting, and it can be quite torturous to have to read an exceedingly boring book for a class. I thought I was good at writing, but several writing workshops taught me how horrible I am at writing a research papers- even when I write a paper to MLA standards it is still often in a style that is confusing or wordy to the teacher (good example being a Resarch paper on the role and portrayal of explorers in early American literature-worked my ass of on that paper, wrote FIVE drafts improving on each draft, and still got a B- on the paper because the teacher didn’t like the style of writing. It made me feel like my greatest potential was writing B- papers :frowning: )

I suppose all I can do is be more open to constructive criticism, find people that are willing to tutor me in stuff I have a hard time in, and not dwell on minor challenges in my goals.

I have to re-take a class I hated last semester (I withdrew because I was doing so badly) and I am not looking forward to it. The class is macroeconomics, and I am a word person that doesn’t do well with abstract ideas. I also don’t know how to do graphs, but I’d better well figure it out quick, huh?

Maybe you and I can help motivate each other.

I can’t remember where I read this, but I do remember reading that this is actually a good way to study/work. Try studying/reading for 15 minutes, then work on a paper or do something for a different class for another 15, then back to reading for the first class. If you stick with it, you’ll cover everything and probably have better retention of what you read.

It’s worth a shot, anyway. Good luck!

Thanks. Its really nice to hear from other people who have a hard time in classes. I have plenty of friends, though none of them go to my college, and I’ve had a hard time making friends there. So it really makes the problem worse, because I have nobody I’m really close to there, and often feel very alone in my problem.

The good news is that I’ve bought my textbooks for this semester, and many of the books we’ll be reading in some of my classes are quite interesting! So that’s reassuring.

Maybe you can volunteer to tutor others in a subject that’s easy for you (or that you do well in) and maybe make some friends that way. At the very least, you’ll feel good about helping someone else, and that will help you through the doldrums.

I considered being an English major, but decided I liked reading books too well to have to dissect them and look for hidden meanings. I just wanted to get lost in the story! And when it came right down to it, the class that excited me enough to tell my family all about it at dinnertime was psychology. So I’m a Liberal Arts (‘want fries with that?’) major with a concentration in psychology.

Oh, and I’m old, too. So if I can do it at my age, you can, too!

The only reason I have above a 3.0 in school is because I got into the honors program. Now I tend to know the teachers and other students in the classes and I feel embarassed when I don’t do well.

My suggestion is go to the teacher early and repeatedly. Get that teacher or another one to look at your stuff. Because it is always about figuring out what the teacher wants.

I realize this is much easier said than done, but if you’re at a point where you’re thinking mostly about grades rather than about what you’re learning, it’s time to take a step back and re-think what you want to get from your education. You can have all the B-minuses in the world, and it won’t matter after graduation. It WILL matter if you spent several years doing something that didn’t interest you or teach you anything worthwhile. For one thing, that sort of thing is bad for the soul; for another, if you’re going to feel like you’re at a dead end, you may as well be in a dead-end job instead and get paid for it.

If you’re not motivated, don’t force it. Maybe you need to major in a different subject or take a semester off. Maybe the whole college thing is not for you (there is NOTHING wrong with this and it doesn’t mean you’re unintelligent, just not academically inclined). Think of it as exploring, not “quitting” – you’re at the right time of life to explore, and nobody will think the worse of you for taking a few side paths along the way. (BTW, I’m a grad student in English, and I’d be the first one to argue that my subject and academia in general are worthwhile … but not for everybody. An English degree is not going to make your fortune, so if you’re not getting any personal enrichment or enjoyment out of it, forget it.)

If you feel like you would be motivated if it weren’t for your grades – if your classes are otherwise interesting – try to forget about the grades for a while and focus on what you’re learning. I bet you learned MUCH more from writing five drafts of that research paper than the student who knocked off an A paper in two hours while drunk, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. Education is a process, not a goal.