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  #1  
Old 02-15-12, 07:17 PM
Byward Byward is offline
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First year engineering student. Feeling like I am totally lost. Any advice?

Hello everyone,

As a preface, sorry if I miss any forum etiquette in this post. Although I have spent the last few hours reading here, I am still new. Also, sorry for the massive post, I have a lot on my mind.

Before I jump into my current problem, let me fill you in on a bit of my background. Through grade school and for the first half of high school, I always had stellar marks. Generally very near, or at the top of my class. I never studied, never worked, in all honesty I just got by on intuition. Everyone else in my family has been very successful, and as the youngest one, my success came as no surprise.

This worked great up until about grade 11. At this point, things started to change in a way that actual work and follow-through was required by me to maintain my top marks. Unfortunately I didn't. My marks were still solid, but between grade 10 and 12, they slipped from mid 90s to low 80s.


I wanted to go to university for Engineering, and applied to a number of top schools (I'm in Canada). As it turned out, my marks weren't enough for all of the schools I really wanted to go to, and I ended up at my safety school. My parents were very understanding and supportive, but must have been a little surprised. No one else in my family ever ended up at anywhere but their top choice.



My first semester was pretty rough. I started in 6 courses, finished with 4. Of those 4, I passed 2 of them. I might have a chance to pass a third. The way the exam structure works at my school is if you score 45-50% in the course, you have a chance to re-write the final. This re-write is happening in about 2 weeks, and I am hoping to salvage a 3/4 semester.


I came to this semester with a hope to start fresh, but it is so far looking even worse then the first. I am currently enrolled in 5 courses, but will probably drop on in the next few weeks. I have had 3 midterms so far, all of which I have failed. I have another tomorrow evening, which I am really lost for.

Half-way through my first semester, I decided to seek out professional help, and after meeting with a series of doctors, was prescribed Concreta. Although I feel like it helps a little bit, it is certainly not making the difference I need. I met with my psychiatrist yesterday, and he added a drug called Wellburtin on top of my Current dose of Concerta (current at 54mg). I am seeing him again next week to follow up on its effectiveness.


It's very hard for me to articulate the problems I'm having, but it seems mostly to be a total lack of self discipline and motivation. Most weeks I will only make it to 1 or 2 classes out of ~15.

until this year, I had never studied for a test before. For my first round of finals, I managed to make it through about an hour of chemistry review, but that was only on something like a triple dose of my meds at the time. I was uncomfortable with that solution, and haven't repeated it since.


Generally when I try to talk to people about this, they seem to think that I am just lazy and don't care, but this is seriously not the case! I am honestly starting to become terrified about the prospect of failing out. I genuinely want to work, I wish I could. I can't imagine what I will do if I fail all my courses this semester. More then anything else, I just want a week of what seems to be the normal university lifestyle. Go to all my classes, study for an hour or two every night. It seems impossible for me.





I know it is probably a vague question, but has anyone experienced problems similar to mine and figured out how to overcome them? I am really out of ideas at this point. After talking to my psychiatrist yesterday, I am going to look into something like life coaching or therapy, apparently there is a center for this on campus.

Thanks so much for any help you can provide!



p.s. - Sorry for the wall of text, I have a lot on my mind!
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Old 02-27-12, 01:43 AM
tudorose tudorose is offline
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Re: First year engineering student. Feeling like I am totally lost. Any advice?

This is a very normal problem (as in an NT kind of normal problem). I know so many people who struggled with engineering including my husband (non ADHD). Another guy (also not ADHD) who got dux of our school went on to fail 1st year engineering. It has a very high drop out rate (I live in a mining state where engineers are in high demand) and I know lots of people who have dropped out or failed.

What difference to you think medication will make? ADHD medication is designed to help you cope with life. It does not make you better at uni. It does not make you smarter. What it enables you to do is learn how to behave appropriately and for me it helped with reading comprehension and understanding what people were saying to me. It helped me stop seeing things back to front. It enabled me to stop being so hyperactive and annoying. I had been like that my whole life.

My husband is not ADHD. He struggled and passed first year engineering but he had to work really really really hard. You can't fly by the seat of your pants in that degree. Nobody can.

You didn't mention any struggles relating to ADHD in childhood (sorry but low 80's for your marks isn't what I'd call struggle - it's what I'd call brilliant). I'd be questioning your doc as to whether the diagnosis is correct. ADHD doesn't just appear once you start being mentally challenged. From what you say it sounds more like you're gifted to me.
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Old 02-27-12, 06:35 AM
silver1347 silver1347 is offline
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Re: First year engineering student. Feeling like I am totally lost. Any advice?

For what it's worth, I didn't read your post and think "that doesn't sound like ADHD". I don't really have anything useful to suggest but I don't think that if the mark you slip down to is in the low 80s that means you can't have ADHD - it's the slipping down and how it happens that's significant, not the absolute number of marks you get.

I'm not taking medication (and incidentally I'm failing terribly at everything I'm trying to do at the moment), but I have got the impression from other people that it can take a while to get the particular medication and dosing right, so that's probably worth working at.

The other thing I would say is make managing your focus and attention and self-discipline problems a project in itself. Start a folder, brainstorm ideas, make notes. Work on your study environment. Use reminders, todos, timers, ... try anything and everything. Bribe yourself to go to bed early so you wake up early, get all your stuff ready the night before, anything to get yourself up and out and not missing classes. Exercise if you can, too.

You will have trouble making yourself implement all these ideas, but you'll have a greater chance of getting some to help you if they're there in your toolbox than if they're not there at all. Even jumping around from one technique to another just on some days is better than nothing. You can work on managing your problems the same way someone with diabetes takes time daily for blood sugar tests and injections. Nothing may end up working anything like as well as medication but start building up a toolbox of techniques to support you as well as that and you will get some benefits from doing so.
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Old 02-27-12, 09:17 PM
Gardenia Gardenia is offline
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Re: First year engineering student. Feeling like I am totally lost. Any advice?

Attending class is important. really important. All the clAsses, even early morning ones. My advice -get a weekly therapist (talk therapy not just psych meds) sign up for tutoring - you may not "need"tutoring to understand the course material, but having a person to talk to will help you stick the information into your brain. Find study groups. Talk to your advisor. Do all the homework.

When i was in school, some kids would fail out first year due to 1) partying or 2) too many computer games. If the internet is absorbing your time, use leechblock or other software to reduce access.

You may find summer classes or part time classes easier. I did part of graduate school with one class at a time, for 6'weeks. It was nice.

Good luck!
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Old 02-27-12, 09:22 PM
Gardenia Gardenia is offline
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Re: First year engineering student. Feeling like I am totally lost. Any advice?

Also, have you been screened for depression? You could have adhd + depression - very fixable, just need the right meds.
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