At the start of the semester, I was driven, powered, a little unfocused (my phone kept distracting me from studying.) But I kept pushing on and on.

But I made costly mistakes along the way.

-I insisted on reading the book for EVERYTHING. Because of this, I would have to study into the day of the midterm and I would have the last 2-3 chapters unfinished and unstudied, only to find out that most of the chapters I had read were not ON the midterm.

I even neglected some classes for others. Even when I had done the book's examples in the class I was strongest in, I failed.

This isn't me making excuses or blaming the teachers for shifting content or making end content more valuable than the other, it just goes to show how my way of wanting to read everything just doesn't work right now.

Now I withdrew from 2 other classes and I'm down to the last two.

I want to work hard and focus on these, but now I have a different problem.

I think I'm afraid of busting my ass only to fail again, or rather. . .I don't see the point. So, I procrastinate.

I've bought energy drinks, coffee, went to the library to focus, but even then. . . I have issues with my parents and my interactions with them are like a tape playing on repeat in my head without consent.

When I finally knuckle down and get to studying, I just feel tired or listless and play a game or read something else for an hour. I keep telling myself I'll get to it, but I haven't in two weeks. Finals are approaching and I'm about to fail the last two classes I have, and I can pass them if I just figure out how to get past this.

This semester has been humbling. . .I took and passed 3 classes over Summer break with good grades, 2 B's and a C and these were under tight time constraints. Now, I can't even pass four classes over the span of four months. . . .

Right now I just don't see the ***** point and I know I'm a fool for it.

I just need a little help. A little wisdom?

closed as off-topic by corey979, scaaahu, cag51, Jon Custer, user3209815 Dec 3 '18 at 8:28

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  • 5
    It sounds like you study a lot but very inefficiently. Have you tried different ways of studying (e.g. in shorter bursts/ less material in one go)? – astronat Dec 1 '18 at 23:30
  • I always considered it, but I end up fearing that method because, I get distracted easily and my assignments are extremely dense. I'm a computer science major, and there are only so many hours in the day. . .Maybe I'm just making excuses because I really want to attain that state of flow again. But yes, there is no doubt in my mind how correct you are. My study methods are expensive and inefficient. – The_Senate Dec 1 '18 at 23:31
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    Sounds like you aren't studying much at all actually. Whether your study habits are efficient or not, you shouldn't be failing even your strongest classes if you're at least trying. But if you are in over your head because you did little all semester, you will of course be overwhelmed at the material you need to cover in the week before exams. Are you attending every class and taking notes? – A Simple Algorithm Dec 2 '18 at 17:53
  • 2
    It sounds like you're studying via depth-first search (xkcd.com/761); a breadth-first approach is usually more effective. – JeffE Dec 2 '18 at 20:22

One of the most destructive myths foisted on students is the idea that good grades are the result of being smart, motivated, and hard-working. In fact, good grades are the result of meeting the expectations of the person giving the grades. The best way to find out how to better focus your efforts is therefore to just meet with your instructors, explain what you've been doing, and ask them for advice about how to meet their expectations. Be polite and diplomatic about this (e.g., don't ask "How can I pass the class?") and don't complain about how hard you've been working or your family issues. No one is going to be receptive to the attitude that you deserve a certain grade just because you've put in a certain amount of time.

Some instructors will try to dodge the question or push you off onto someone else like the TA or the campus study center. Some instructors will lecture you about "your responsibility." But a good instructor will try to help. Even if the instructor is a jerk, be insistent and specific about what you need and be realistic about what can be accomplished in the remaining time. Don't put off talking to your instructors even if you want to crawl under a rock. It is after all exactly the instructor's job to provide reasonable help that students need to succeed. Good luck.


In general, your priority should be to follow all your classes continuously over the semester, working each topic immediately in order not to lag behind. Studying additional material is often recommended, but not instead of what you are taught.

You're burning yourself out, this is unhealthy and counter-productive. You don't need energy drinks or coffee, you need a more rational organization of your work. Thankfully it's a skill that you can learn. I would suggest that you find a fellow student and ask them for advice: how do they organize their work daily, weekly and in the semester? how much do they work? (and how much they don't: having some time to relax is essential for the brain to work properly). Maybe you could even find a group of fellow students to study together? It could help you to keep the pace and stay focused.

  • I had a group, but the other two members withdrew. They weren't doing well in the class. There is one guy in my Comp Organization class I might study with, though. . . . – The_Senate Dec 2 '18 at 0:22
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    @The_Senate imho the fact that you are aware of your past mistakes is a good sign, there's no reason to think that you can't succeed. It's ok to take a wrong turn, we live and we learn. But if your difficulties to focus persist and undermine your work, you might want to consider professional psychological help. There's a good chance that your institution provides this for free to students. – Erwan Dec 2 '18 at 0:39
  • I already have a therapist and I'm seeing a psychologist. I think that without these meds, I would have gotten into a fistfight last week. Doc says it takes the edge off, he may be right. I find that it helps to interact with people. – The_Senate Dec 2 '18 at 1:20
  • @The_Senate that's good then. I'm guessing a bit here but it looks like your main problem with studying is perfectionism, probably you tend to overthink things. You can learn to control it: focus on making one small step at a time, "little and often" is how you build solid knowledge and improve your self-confidence. It's essential that you take care of yourself first, don't feel guilty for taking time off because it pays off in the long run. – Erwan Dec 2 '18 at 11:33

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