Old 05-27-2014, 01:10 AM   #1
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Default High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

I'm sure plenty of you can either relate or have a friend who fits this description: possesses above-average intelligence with high aptitude for critical thinking, discourse, and comprehension; yet earns mediocre grades, is easily distracted, and is a habitual procrastinator.

This would be me. I'm not going to get up on a podium and tout whatever intelligence I think I have. I'm currently very frustrated by anyone who comes at me "but you're so smart! You can do it!" because if that was a solution, I would be beyond fine.

What I'm asking for is help. FFR forums may not be the best place to do it, but this subsection is highly promising.

What's wrong with me? How do I break this cycle and force myself to develop the needed discipline to produce work to my full potential?

Has anyone else been struggling with this in their lives? How did/do you find success?

Note: I've tried medication and sanctioned assignment deadline extensions. Neither drugs nor additional time seem to help me get things done, though I plan to restart my perscription soon for another stint.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Have to motivate your self and set goals. Only way I've been able to break that attitude.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Take away all that is pleasurable or contenting.
Return it to yourself as rewards for completing tasks or projects.

There is literally no other way to do it.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Can you elaborate some on what specifically is hard to concentrate on and what goes through your head? From what you say it sounds like you have attention deficit disorder. It's impossible to tell though based on the information you gave.
Other possibilities that aren't purely chemical could be lack of confidence, anxiety, aimless feeling.

Some suggestions are:
-Get exercise before you sit down to do work.
-Identify your purpose for doing the work: eg. do you want to? why? what is your goal?
-Work with your teachers after hours, it's a very helpful tool and it's underused by students. It'll force you to focus. They'll help you help them help you.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

For me, I got into that position from the very beginning due to patterns of laziness. The education system was too slow for me, and I did very little studying or work. By the time I reached a point where I needed to actually put effort into my work (around high school on), everyone else had developed good habits and got ahead in that way.

Like what everyone else is saying, you should set goals and complete tasks that you're interested in. Pursue some sort of study that you think you could do well in, that you would be passionate about, and start branching out and thinking about how all of these things you know relate to your life and the world around you. Think about what you're currently good at doing or enjoy doing, and see if that helps you find a starting point.

On top of that, start doing more social activities (which is easier said than done, I know), talking to people, so you can expose yourself to other views and ideas, as well as learn how to interact with people so you can better understand how to utilize the things you've learned and make connections.

It sounds like the two things I just mentioned fold back into each other, and they do. While you're doing all of these things, my recommendation is not to have the expectation that you're going to do great things. This can mislead you into being too ambitious or self-confident. Your first priority is gaining insight and experience. If you don't know how to live a modest life, it's not likely you'll be able to make a difference in modest people.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zageron View Post
Take away all that is pleasurable or contenting.
Return it to yourself as rewards for completing tasks or projects.

There is literally no other way to do it.
I have apps like Concentrate and StayFocused to... help me stay focused. Sometimes they help, provided I actually use them. More often than not, it only removes part of the distractions.

I get the basis of this approach, but I'm at a point where I feel like I literally need to be in a locked, stimuli-free room to see projects through to the end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by awein999 View Post
Can you elaborate some on what specifically is hard to concentrate on and what goes through your head?
[...]
Some suggestions are:
-Get exercise before you sit down to do work.
-Identify your purpose for doing the work: eg. do you want to? why? what is your goal?
-Work with your teachers after hours, it's a very helpful tool and it's underused by students. It'll force you to focus. They'll help you help them help you.
I mentioned in the foot of my post that I was on medication for a while, and it was to treat my ADD. All the Attention Deficit, none of the Hyperactivity (fortunately?). It was never officially diagnosed, but I'm struggling so much lately, it's becoming seriously problematic.

Exercise is something I need to do a lot more of. All of my classes, classwork, and leisure activities involve sitting myself down at a computer for hours.
The past two semesters at college I made a point to be in contact with all my teachers and work with them so we're on the same page with my progress.
It helps my case, but not my work ethic unfortunately.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

places like a critical thinking section of a video game forum are going to self-select for people with ADHD tendencies, since it's very likely that posting here in itself is an act of distraction for you

places like a critical thinking section of a video game that breaks up levels into bite-sized, ADHD-friendly events is doubly going to do this

if you indeed have ADHD tendencies you need to understand what those tendencies actually are -- they're chronic understimulation; distraction is a side effect of understimulation.

instead of asking "what will motivate me?" ask "what stimulates me?" and "what don't I find stimulating?" -- try to be as specific as possible.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

I can relate to your description pretty well, I had difficulties in high school and I'm a procrastinator addict. Usually, when I try to avoid work is because I cannot see the end of the tunnel (work is too massive and I am afraid of it) or I am thinking too much about how/when I will complete the project.

They are a couple of things that helps me everyday with my duties.
- Plan first : having a good schedule that you can follow everyday will make sure you're not forgetting that any big deadlines. Your time management will improve as well. And if you don't know where to start, set up priorities. Personnally, I'm using Google Calendar and it helped me quite a bit.
- But, don't plan every little details in advance : that help reduce stress. While planning is a very important step before every project, if it's overdone, it may discourage you before starting the task.
- Reserve time, a lot of it : don't forget that when you procrastinate, you're wasting free time you'll need for later
- Start slowly : start by studying for 15 minutes/day. The next week, see if you can go for 20 minutes, then 25, then 30, etc.
- If you doubt about yourself, remember the things you did that you are proud of.
- Discipline will come naturally : forcing it had given me mixed results. It really depends on the amount of work. If it's something short (a 10 hour project, getting early to a week of exams), discipline alone can work. If it's long term (doing the dishes, exercize every day), you need to find other sources of motivation. After a while, you'll end up with a routine that suits you, but it takes patience.
- Try to involve things you like in things you need to do : listen to music while studying / if you like to study outside, do it if it's possible / do exercize while watching tv / etc. Honestly, if there's one thing I learned from my past mistakes is that the quality of my mood is proportional to the quality of my success. Trick your brain : what you're doing is actually fun and good for yourself. However, always prioritize your work.

e : Well, now that I know that you have ADD, maybe that last point might not work as well as it did with me...
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:02 AM   #9
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

you guys are all approaching the problem incorrectly

self discipline and motivation techniques are predicated on the assumption that he cares about the results of doing well in school, whatever they may be for him

he needs to first figure out whether he actually cares about being motivated or whether he thinks he should care because the people around him do/expect him to

to me it looks like he only barely gives enough shits to loosely convince himself that he gives a shit, not saying that's a bad thing but seriously the first step is for him to be honest with himself
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch0wl View Post
[...] if you indeed have ADHD tendencies you need to understand what those tendencies actually are -- they're chronic understimulation; distraction is a side effect of understimulation.

instead of asking "what will motivate me?" ask "what stimulates me?" and "what don't I find stimulating?" -- try to be as specific as possible.
These are all excellent observations, and I'm inclined to agree. FFR is very ADD-friendly for me. Games in general are things I've rarely had trouble focusing on.

Chronic understimulation is a concept I didn't really think of. Years ago I dismissed my disinterest in schoolwork as it being 'too easy' and underwhelming, though that isn't always the case now.

Again, great observations, good questions I should be addressing for myself. Thanks.

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you guys are all approaching the problem incorrectly

self discipline and motivation techniques are predicated on the assumption that he cares about the results of doing well in school, whatever they may be for him

he needs to first figure out whether he actually cares about being motivated or whether he thinks he should care because the people around him do/expect him to

to me it looks like he only barely gives enough shits to loosely convince himself that he gives a shit, not saying that's a bad thing but seriously the first step is for him to be honest with himself
tough love here from MinaciousGrace
but it does ring fairly true

Truthfully, a degree isn't what it used to be, and this 4-year-struggle (and financial pitfall) through stuff I've never been good at doesn't feel worthwhile to me. The only personal thing really keeping me in school is pride, I guess.

I want to succeed, maybe just to prove I can. Some days I wake up motivated to really put my nose to the grindstone and 'apply myself', but at the end of the week it's back to square one.
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:27 AM   #11
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Quote:
Originally Posted by MinaciousGrace View Post
you guys are all approaching the problem incorrectly

self discipline and motivation techniques are predicated on the assumption that he cares about the results of doing well in school, whatever they may be for him

he needs to first figure out whether he actually cares about being motivated or whether he thinks he should care because the people around him do/expect him to

to me it looks like he only barely gives enough shits to loosely convince himself that he gives a shit, not saying that's a bad thing but seriously the first step is for him to be honest with himself
For me, this thread is a proof that he cares enough about his situation and he's willing to improve. That's a legitimate question though, and maybe the first you need to ask yourself after admitting that one has a problem.
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:34 AM   #12
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

To approach Mina's problem more directly, psychology breaks people's understanding of their own ambitions into two broad categories.

Your "ideal self" is the person you want to be.
Your "ought self" is your understanding of what others want you to be.

Then there is our actual self. In your case, your actual self is procrastinating everything but thinks you are smart enough to get things done.
Which one -ideal or ought- is motivating you with regards to schoolwork?


I fit this description very well. I was a straight A student in highschool, got 5s on all my AP tests, 800s on SATs, etc etc, but always just barely, or without really trying. I never really studied, I basically got by on the fact that I was smart. I played a shitload of WoW and FFR during times I should have been studying and procrastinated everything until the last second, yet I still managed to get things done because I was good enough at easy highschool assignments to write an essay 2 hours before it was due.

I went to one semester of college at MIT and the need to actually study hit me really hard. For many reasons, not the least of which being that I was doing badly in my classes for the first time in ever, I went on leave.
It's been 4 years since then, and I only recently got back into college.
I've decided that, back in highschool, my ought self was motivating my grades. Even though my parents were super chill and never told me anything of the sort, I mentally attributed my doing well in school to a feeling that "I ought to do well because my parents/family expects it."
In the 4 years since being at MIT, I've internalized a lot of my goals. Back then, I hate to admit it, my ideal self was a guy who coasted along and played WoW while still getting As in classes. This contradicted with the reality of being at essentially the most demanding university in the world.
Now, I ideally see myself as a student who actually studies, as opposed to studying because that's what I should be doing. Minor difference, but it's a huge difference when you sit down in front of a computer and are faced with loading up Firefox and browsing the FFR forums versus loading up Mathematica and doing economics.

How did I make the change? My dad died and as he was dying I sorta realized, the last memory my dad is ever going to have of me is me feeling lost because I don't know how to handle MIT. I decided that was a terrible thing and I had better change my act before my mom died with the same disappointment, but also that all along my dad really never cared if I did well in school, only that I was happy, and when he died I wasn't happy and that really broke his heart. It went from being "well I should do well in college because my dad thinks I should" to "well fuck, my dad is dead and now I can't lie to myself, I NEED to do well in college for my own sake"
Maybe you'll have some sort of epiphany like that, who knows.


EDIT- If you find this line of thinking helps you sort out your thoughts, look up Self-Discrepancy Theory and Consistency Theory.
Lots of interesting research on what happens when your various views of yourself contradict and how that can lead to things such as chronic procrastination.
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:57 AM   #13
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

this anecdote is somewhat narcissistic, but only because of the way it's stated; I suspect everyone feels this way to a degree about the things they do. so:

when I started going to the gym, I wasn't very motivated to keep going. yet when I got to the point where I was actually ahead of quite a few people in terms of strength, physique and so on, the fruits of my work actually had a concrete property and I was motivated to go each time because every improvement made me more exceptional in that domain.

it may be that you don't find school appealing because you don't think you're distinguishing yourself in a way that makes you that much better than anyone else; after all, you mentioned that a 4-year degree isn't what it used to be. "better than anyone else" is a harsh term, but come on. that's how most people emotionally process it even if it's not reflective of reality.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:01 PM   #14
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Well, you're lazy.

This is coming from someone that has struggled with this issue for years but eventually made it work.

Think about it this way: your intellect is absolutely worthless unless you apply it to *something*. Maybe it's not academia that you're destined for, but you've got to find your niche somewhere if not in academia. Sitting around letting life pass you by while you tell yourself that you're smart but just can't seem to apply yourself is a pretty worthless endeavour.

At some point you've got to get serious and make the decision to do better. Start making a routine and get into the habit of doing things you know need to get done. And start figuring out what you want to do with your life before you squander your opportunity.


It's different if you have an actual medical condition, but if you're like I was, you're just content with the fact that you don't have to work hard. Don't be. You still have to work your ass off in life even if you're a damn genius.

Don't be content with yourself until you've done what needs to be done to achieve what you want to achieve.
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:09 PM   #15
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

I used to have so much trouble with essays that I stressed myself out to the point where I would procrastinate until I didn't even complete enough of the essay to receive a grade. However, I hired an English tutor this semester who told me to write a paragraph in a set time-limit every week I met up with him. Over time, I have become much more confident in my approach to writing, and I was able to finish and turn in my final essay to my teacher, (although I barely made it in time). Ever since I started writing an event-type game for FFR, I have found it much easier to write in general. In fact, I have recently been reading an intriguing fanfiction novel for which I love the writing style and vocabulary choice, so I find writing a lot more fun now that I try to implement my own writing style. I hope you motivate yourself to do well in school and have fun with your assignments because they will become less of a chore and more like a hobby.
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:26 PM   #16
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I botched the class participation portion which was worth
Required attendance/participation policies need to burn in hell. I was absent 7 times to Spanish 1 (I'm practically a fluent spanish speaker) so apparently that means that I lose 7% of my final grade.



In case you don't want to do the math, my grade from points earned alone is 94%. Which is what my final grade should be, because I honestly don't give a fuck how many times I missed your boring class.

Thankfully I still got an A-.
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:39 PM   #17
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

"Aim for the stars" they told me but why would I aim for the past? The only thing I'm gunning for is to have everyone kiss my ass.
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:05 PM   #18
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Hiring a tutor for writing may help me develop better punctuality in getting papers done. I'll definitely try to work towards that option more.
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Old 06-8-2014, 10:01 AM   #19
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

I believe I have above-average intelligence, but throughout elementary school, my ADD gave me trouble. I received decent grades in most of the subjects, except for Math and conduct. I would average a D/C in conduct and it was only for minor things, such as talking or playing with my pencil too much, etc. since my ADD made it hard to concentrate.

I do believe I was in the smarter half of the class, I just had a hard time focusing and admittedly, finishing my paper wasn't the most important thing to me in the world. My teachers really didn't like me due to these things.

Due to my inability of focusing on more than one thing at a time, it made math really hard. I knew how to solve the problems and what not, I just had a hard time doing it. I believe part of the reason for my low grades was constantly getting teased/bullied throughout the day and it made it difficult to do well on my work. It got to the point where I had to get on medication, and I got an A+ in conduct the first week I started.

It started to get more difficult during 4th grade, when the bullying got slightly more serious, and my teacher was even more of a b****. I also believe a big reason for my low grades was because every year I would be put in the meanest teacher's class, from 1st to 6th grade, except for 5th when I actually got a nice teacher which made it a whole lot easier.

I'm probably rambling on now, but overall, I felt I was decently smart. It was just things like my ADD, being teased all day, and my teachers being mean that made it difficult. I probably also didn't work as hard as I could have either. This is why I'm home schooled today. I hope this was the right kind of thing to post here.
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Old 02-6-2015, 08:26 PM   #20
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Default Re: High-Level Thinker, Low-Level Student

Idk as long as you get above a 3.0 you're fine. don't need to be an overachiever!!
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