I am a freshman at Alfred University. I've been out of school for 6 years and am returning as a non-traditional student.

I'm having some trouble that I hope someone may have insight for me. I love and adore mathematics and am endlessly intrigued and interested. Usually, back at home, I would work on little projects, like building toys or games or web apps and would explore the mathematics of the problems I was solving and generally have a wonderful time. Now that I'm in college I'm in a structured environment where we work in groups to solve problems in a workbook, and I'm assigned specific problem sets to work on in a specific topic every night.

I am having difficulty adjusting to this format of exploration and study.

I have a very free-wheeling approach to learning and it follows a spiritual bent; as I develop as an individual I also develop my skills and soak up more knowledge. The spirit isn't exactly something that you direct to sit down and do work and I'm not sure how to bridge the two worlds. No level of understanding that I've achieved will galvanize me to the discipline necessary to complete homework every day of the week, or even to set a goal of completing homework three times a week. Although now that I'm writing that, making a small goal like that seems much more reasonable.

I know I have to shed the habit of project-based learning however it's dying a hard death. I don't really know what to do about this.

Is this enough information for someone to possibly give me advice?

Thank you,


  • 2
    I'm not clear which part you are asking advice on and it feels a bit broad and/or opinionated. No one really can tell you what to do. You have to decide what your goals are for school. Why are you there? If you don't have a concrete goal in mind then I think you will just continue making excuses for why you can't get your homework done. Though some kids that are described as "free spirited" tend to be ones that actually have some sort of learning disability. If you really want to be at school, but just can't concentrate/focus then you might talk to your physician about it. – scrappedcola Sep 12 '18 at 20:38
  • Funny. Out of a math-specific context this reads quite differently, this being the post I made. Context being that I posted this in the math SE first. I'm mainly angling for advice on how to go from being a person who is used to doing projects on his own and learning that way to being a person who learns through teacher-directed activities. It's a leap for me. I've gotten that it's too bad that math is taught through a workbook and that the approach doesn't work across the board, and that it's all I can do to just plug away. Good advice however it would be nice to leave my net out to see – Khari Thompson Sep 12 '18 at 21:14
  • if anyone can relate. – Khari Thompson Sep 12 '18 at 21:17
  • It is difficult for anyone but you to tell how you can adjust best. Some things which usually works well for new students are: - Put a structure to your student life. Have a fixed schedule, when to read, do exercises etc. Stick to the schedule. - Set smaller goals for yourself. Having a goal like 'I want to learn math' is so broad that you will never feel accomplished. 'I want to learn this proof/method/etc' is better. - Attend the lectures. - Join a study group. Having others counting on you can greatly help. – nabla Sep 12 '18 at 23:21

You are trying to achieve something, presumably a mathematics degree. Often, it is necessary to do dull, uninteresting things to get what you want. You have to decide first whether you want the degree, and the opportunities it will bring, enough to be willing to do things you do not enjoy to get it.

If the answer is "No" drop out now without wasting any more of your time and money.

If the answer is "Yes" you need to think in terms of doing something today, doing it now, to get what you want in several years time. Each homework assignment turned in on time is a small step to your objective. Its entertainment value, or lack thereof, is irrelevant.

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