Frustrated, seeking some advice

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Team MSHQ April 12, 2019 at 3:28 pm.

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  • #192225
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    thewayiam
    Participant

    Hello all! It’s been a while since I have posted. I am officially full time at school this semester and I am definitely feeling it . I was able to go down to part time at my job and keep the same hourly rate which is very, very helpful for my husband and me. I put in about 20 hours a week at work and almost all of my free time goes to studying, trying to get 8 hours of sleep and whatever is left I try to see my husband and family. Although most of my time is devoted to studying, prepping for classes, doing projects I feel like I am perpetually behind. I am taking 3 classes (Bio, Prep Chem (designed to prepare me for Gen Chem 1 & 2), and Stats, 4 if you count the Bio lab that requires weekly lab reports and quizzes on top of the lab.

    Everything appeared to be going smoothly. I have been organized, eating right, 10 min meditations to get me ready for the day and to ease stress. Haven’t been struggling too much with focus while studying. My bio class is by far the hardest class I have ever taken in my life. It is unlike anything I have ever taken. My professor and TAs all warned my classmates and me that this is an extremely hard class and half the class would fail. As like many of you I am sure, I hadn’t taken a science class in over 10 years so I knew it would be an adjustment.

    I thought that I was prepared and I thought that I understood the material. I had been studying since day one to prepare for the first exam, but apparently it wasn’t enough. My first exam came back and with the curve I got a B- my raw grade was a 66.7. I was devastated. Turns out that I still did better than 65% of the class (out of 250) according to the results they posted. I am trying very hard not to get discouraged but I can’t help but get lost in a sea of worry and feelings of failure. This class is supposed to be an “intro” class, how am I going to make it through this INCREDIBLY arduous journey.

    Feeling defeated

    #263531
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    LifePlusMedicine
    Participant

    Every one of us feels this way at times I am sure. Being non-traditional students puts us even under more pressure: we have responsibilities outside of classes. It is amazing that you are trying to take care of yourself (meditation, exercise, good nutrition and sleep); healthy body and mind harbors healthy thoughts. Filter your negative thoughts out, do not let them rule your mind and your life. I know it is easier said than done, but it is very important to acknowledge them and replace them with a happy and positive one( whatever it may be that day). I love photography: I carry my camera along each day and take a photo of something I am grateful for 365 days a year. Or I visit someone I love/ or watch something that makes me laugh till I cry, when I feel down about my academic performance. These are my “flotation techniques”, they keep my head above water:)

    When it comes to Biology, what have you tried to help yourself? Peer tutors at school? Khan Academy videos? Brightstorm videos are not free, but if you youtube them, the are free:)

    Medicine is the longest and highly challenging field and we chose it, I hope, for a right reason. And the pressure and rigor and study load are only going to increase, and, I feel that premed life is a good opportunity to learn how to balance our lives, and what are the coping mechanisms that work for us. Keep your head up!

    #263532
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    thewayiam
    Participant
    • LifePlusMedicine Said:
    Every one of us feels this way at times I am sure. Being non-traditional students puts us even under more pressure: we have responsibilities outside of classes. It is amazing that you are trying to take care of yourself (meditation, exercise, good nutrition and sleep); healthy body and mind harbors healthy thoughts. Filter your negative thoughts out, do not let them rule your mind and your life. I know it is easier said than done, but it is very important to acknowledge them and replace them with a happy and positive one( whatever it may be that day). I love photography: I carry my camera along each day and take a photo of something I am grateful for 365 days a year. Or I visit someone I love/ or watch something that makes me laugh till I cry, when I feel down about my academic performance. These are my “flotation techniques”, they keep my head above water:)

    When it comes to Biology, what have you tried to help yourself? Peer tutors at school? Khan Academy videos? Brightstorm videos are not free, but if you youtube them, the are free:)

    Medicine is the longest and highly challenging field and we chose it, I hope, for a right reason. And the pressure and rigor and study load are only going to increase, and, I feel that premed life is a good opportunity to learn how to balance our lives, and what are the coping mechanisms that work for us. Keep your head up!

    Thanks for the reply! When I mentioned that this is the hardest class I have ever taken, I meant that it was hard in the sense that I am required to learn a very large amount of information in a short period of time. I know that this will be the norm going forward and difficulty will only continue to increase and will be amplified in medical school. I go to a supplemental instruction class once a week to help, but I think I may need to start going to more sessions per week. I am currently trying to figure out a balance with studying for all of my classes. I ended up not being able to focus quite as much on my other classes last week because I wanted to prepare for my Bio exam even more. And now I feel slightly behind in my other classes.

    I think my biggest issue right now is time management. I thought that I had a good handle on everything, but I feel like there is simply not enough time. I really have not wanted to sacrifice my sleep, but I cannot fathom how any of this is possible without doing so.

    I love your idea about carrying your camera around, I am a creative at heart (I’m a former graphic designer) so I definitely enjoy a creative outlet. I have actually wanted to start a blog, not only to document this journey, but to improve my writing ability. But, of course then I need to devote time to that. Trying so hard to be optimistic! I didn’t anticipate feeling this beaten down so soon!

    #263533
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    Kate429
    Participant

    Perhaps the 20 hours is still too much with the course load you are carrying. Or it may be that some tweaking of your study techniques will get you “there” with less time.

    Cutting down on sleep does not generally enhance one’s retention of material

    Throughout this journey it’s important to reassess and reevaluate how what you are doing is working for you – sounds like you are doing that!

    Best of luck.

    Kate

    Katherine "Licia" Hedian
    Graduated from West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
    Family Medicine DO - finished residency at 60.

    #263534
    Avatar
    Fedaykin
    Participant
    • thewayiam Said:
    My professor and TAs all warned my classmates and me that this is an extremely hard class and half the class would fail. As like many of you I am sure, I hadn’t taken a science class in over 10 years so I knew it would be an adjustment.

    I thought that I was prepared and I thought that I understood the material. I had been studying since day one to prepare for the first exam, but apparently it wasn’t enough. My first exam came back and with the curve I got a B- my raw grade was a 66.7. I was devastated. Turns out that I still did better than 65% of the class (out of 250) according to the results they posted.

    While I don’t mean to be a Monday morning quarterback, do everything possible to not take a class when the prof is upfront that half the students will fail. Also, how is this an intro class? In general, students are supposed to pass intro classes. I can imagine the half-of-you-will-fail mentality in an upper division course (I still find it bullshit, but that’s a separate matter), but an intro class? This sounds like Thunderdome.

    The only advice I have in that regard is to push your way through this and chalk it up to experience when you’re done. If I were in your position, combining my performance on the first exam and the dire warnings, I would consider dropping. I’m not suggesting you do that. But I would be considering it in your position. You’re in a situation that’s designed to screw you. That’s a situation where I start looking for a parachute.

    Moving on, two things immediately spring to mind.

    The first is that you have an advantage on future exams because you’ve had one. You now know the layout and format. If you didn’t get a chance to review your exam, make an appointment to do so. See if there was any trend to where you screwed up. I recently got an 81 on an exam and something like 14 of my points off came from one section worth 20% of the exam. From what I hear, everyone in my class was slaughtered on that part too. You said you studied hard, so studying harder isn’t the answer. Which brings me to point two…

    Don’t study harder; study better. I’ve studied different ways at different points in my life. In high school I did well by taking my notes and wandering around my room reciting them until I had them down rote. In college… well, college sucked for me and part of that was that I never found a way that worked. In my Master’s Degree, I did really well to record lectures, and re-listen to them while thumbing through lecture slides at my own pace, pausing to jot down notes when the prof hinted that something was particularly important.

    That last method served me so well in my MS (3.65 of 4.00) that at first I did it exclusively when it came to my PhD. I did this and spectacularly bombed my first round of exams. My first three exams for my PhD were a midterm/final in Medical Helminthology (half semester course) and a midterm for immunology. My grades on them as best I remember went 66, 68, 55 respectively. I kinda wondered last October if I’d fail out of my PhD program after one semester.

    I started trying new methods and eventually found a cool program that lets you make electronic flashcards (www.quizlet.com). I love flashcards but write really slowly and my hand gets sore fast. I started using it for all my studying and things turned around dramatically. Final Fall grades: A/A/A/A-/A-/A-/B/B-. I’ll note the B/B- were in the classes I effed up those three exams, so I think it demonstrates finding the right way to study makes a huge difference.

    I don’t know what your studying looks like. I would venture to say (simply because this is common) you probably didn’t test yourself enough. This is often the culprit when you get surprised by an exam- seeing things make sense on paper is a lot different from recalling that information when tested. You may have understood your notes but that’s different from mastery of the material. Consider using a notecard program. Or have your husband test you. Find a way to see how well you really understand material.

    When you’re studying well you can feel it. It’s not a feeling of “ok, this is written on the slide.” It’s a matter of actually feeling the material stick and being able to see a big picture as well as the individual information. If you aren’t getting that, shake up your methods.

    TL;DR Decide if the situation is salvageable and consider escape options if available. Examine where your problems were on the first exam, try new methods of studying.

    #263535
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    thewayiam
    Participant

    Thank you Fedaykin! All very insightful thoughts.

    I have been doing a lot of honest evaluations with myself and my study habits since I’ve taken that exam and I think what it came down to is what you touched on. I did not test myself enough and I relied too much on “looking for the answer” when it didn’t come to me right away instead of really sitting with it and working it through. I have since started quizzing myself as I am studying/learning the material. I will then incorporate those questions into my flash cards. Coming up with my own questions about the material after knowing what the exam looks like seems to help. I do use a computer cloud based note software Mental Case. I think I have all of the tools to be a successful student it’s just a matter of aligning everything in a way that fully unlocks my potential.

    I definitely think that I memorized the material, but I did not test it enough to fully understand the concept looking at various scenarios.

    Before the first exam I was reading ahead to only the chapter summaries before class where now I am reading the whole chapter and trying to work it out in my mind before attending lecture. Then recording the lecture and listening to it while rereading the chapters. Pausing and stopping, reading the text for supplement until I get it and then reciting it outloud. I’ve also been trying to go through things I’m learning when I am not studying. Making my lunch or dinner, or driving to and from work. Seeing how much I can remember without any materials in front of me.

    I really don’t think dropping the course is an option. Plus I am determined to find a method of studying that works for me, how else will I figure it out? Better figure it out now then knee deep in organic chemistry when I wont have time to figure it out.

    Luckily we get to drop our worst score, so all I have to do now is get all A’s!

    OH, and I did get the exam back with my answers and I was shocked to see that I answered questions wrong that I know I knew the answers to. The bizarre thing was that I don’t even remember answering those questions on the exam. I definitely think there is a huge anxiety component to this so I have since booked an appointment with my therapist. Ha.

    #263536
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    Fedaykin
    Participant
    • thewayiam Said:
    OH, and I did get the exam back with my answers and I was shocked to see that I answered questions wrong that I know I knew the answers to.

    If these questions were early or spread out you may have beat yourself mentally. If they were late in the exam you may have hit a hard section on the way and gotten burned out. If you ever come to a question that’s challenging or you’re unsure of, skip it. It’s not going anywhere and it’s easy to get so stressed out on hard questions that you can’t recover.

    #281350
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    Team MSHQ
    Keymaster

    Hi! This was covered on OPM Session #173!

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