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young, poor, busy, and confused

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Stressed, yet? [Sep. 30th, 2004|04:55 pm]
young, poor, busy, and confused


[Current Mood |curiouscurious]
[Current Music |typing of my keyboard]


I'm into my third, perhaps fourth week of school. I'm not sure because we started university on a Thursday. It's my second year. Anyway, I'm just stressed and wanted to unwind and wondered if anyone had any advice on how to focus on school work.

I'm in Life Sciences at U of T. (Yes, I want to become a doctor.) So the material we cover can be quite dry - Biology, Biochemistry, Animal Diversity, Sociology and Narrative English (for good measure). Yet, I try to concentrate. However, I found myself not motivated to study or that the things I read are not really staying in my mind. I also do work very slowly, so I found that I can waste a lot of time on one passage.

I live in a single room dormitory. I even asked my parents specifically NOT to buy me a television set, so as to not distract me from homework. However, as you can see, I also have the Internet and can become quite content in daydreaming while listening to music.

So my question is to fellow students, how do you maintain interest and motivation in your current choice of studying subject matter? How do you concentrate on school work? How do you NOT procrastinate? Thanks. All answers appreciated.

[User Picture]From: quaskye
2004-10-02 10:55 am (UTC)

Longest Comment EVER.

when the subject is dry, I keep myself interested by trying to go "above and beyond," that is, instead of just memorizing facts, trying to figure out the consequences, or tie together different classes, or making up analogies between what I'm learning and anything else (even if they're bad analogies), if it gets really bad, I try to write rhymes about what I'm learning. Of course, this only provides a little 5 minute recharge of interest and you have to go back to the dry stuff again.

The other thing I do is study in the same place, and try to keep it clean. If you're distracted by having the internet, maybe you can study in a library (if you don't need a computer, or if you can't get internet there). I actually don't get the internet at home, and do in the libraries, so I have to go home to study. Another thing I did was create a separate account on my computer that can't access the internet at all. This only works moderately well because I can always log back into my internet account.

This is more related to the top paragraph, but also try to tie all the boring stuff you're doing now to what you eventually want to do. i.e. "okay, I'm doing biology, this is going to help me better understand organ systems (or whatever) so that when I'm a doctor, I'll know blah blah blah about the liver" you could even go so far as "When a patient comes to me with Liver problems, I'll be able to help them because I know the liver does this and this" or "because the mitochondria does this and this" or whatever. Even English: "When I'm a doctor, I'll be able to effectively communicate in writing because I've practiced blah blah blah."

and here's one more study tip, which I stole from a book called Making the Grade: instead of just trying to read and outline, try to figure out what kind of questions the teacher will ask, and then answer them. So if you're on the chapter about organelles, instead of doing:
I. Organelles
A. Mitochondria
1. Folded inner membrane
2. Makes ATP

Try formatting your notes as:
Q: How does the structure of the mitochondria relate to its function?
A: The wrinkled inner lining of the mitochondria provides the maximum amount of surface area for molecular transfers that produce ATP (may or may not actually be what the mitochondria does, I forget).

This way, you get all the facts, but it's more "active learning" and, arguably, keeps you engaged and focused.

Last thing (I promise!) I like to do a little breathing exercise and say a silly little mantra if I'm having trouble focusing. Usually it's just a few slow breaths, concentrating on the air "energizing" my body, and then saying "Now I'm going to actively study" or something equally silly. This isn't new age magic, from my point of view, so much as its a symbollic commitment to focusing. Okay, so maybe that is new agey, but hey, if you just sit down and think "I guess I'll study now, unless I think of something else to do" you're just going to keep trying to think of other things. And if you're like me, "fantasizing about a sandwhich" counts as something else.
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[User Picture]From: 0sleep2dream0
2004-10-03 08:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Longest Comment EVER.

Thanks for the help. Someone really cares!!! :o) I'm sorry that it's not 1/100th as long as your reply. But if it makes you feel good, I printed out your hints. Hahahaha.
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