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Need advice-feel zoned out all the time and worried about failing

So, I'm in my 2nd year of college. I almost got suspended semester and I'm ashamed of myself. And I worry it may really happen and I feel so silly. I'd describe my problem as being..zoned out? And I'm not sure how to stop it.

I can't even read half the time. I know how to read, but when I try to read a book in class it's like my eyes can't stay still. I can't concentrate on the page, or if I can read something it'll go out my head soon.

I do have a daydreaming habit and I doodle on my papers. They say to take notes, but it doesn't help me. I'm gonna do it cause it's useful, but I go right back to daydreaming. Sometimes I'm daydreaming about the rest of the day, sometimes it's about fun stuff. Sometimes I zone out cause I'm lost. Sometimes something in class is interesting and I keep dreaming about that. It's all over the place. It's annoying when you're watching the teacher cutting a fish in cooking class and then forget where to start when it's your turn.

Essay writing stinks. I'm a good writer when it comes to being descriptive and stuff. But it takes me forever to come up with things and I'm a slow writer because I'm so lost in thought when writing.

So yeah, I've been pretty down about that. I'd hate to get kicked out for something so silly. So far, I have seen a tutor and the school counselor helped me work out a work schedule, but it hasn't helped the root of things. Can anyone else relate to me? No one says I have ADD or anything like that.

#college #student #time-management #writing

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Jo Anne’s Answer

First, have you ever been evaluated for ADD/ADHD? I am by no means a doctor, but my kids both experience similar feelings in school or when trying to read, and both have been diagnosed with ADHD. just something to ponder.

Second, one strategy you can try is to keep doodling. Not everything your teachers say needs to be written down, so as you go, write what you hear as important, and while you are not officially note-taking, decorate your paper. Doodles in the corners, coloring the alternating lines, anything that keeps your hands busy. It takes practice, but if you keep your hands busy, your mind may be able to focus better on what you are hearing.

Another strategy is to try using color. Actively grouping things by color can help you focus more on what you are hearing. Colored hiliters and/or colored pens and pencils can help. If you have to mentally and physically take that extra step to process as you listen, it can help redirect your mind.

Both of these are strategies you can use when reading too. Make sure you have book copies you can write in. Hi light, doodle in the margins, etc.

For writing, one thing I teach my students is to use index cards. Put a thought or a sentence on a card. Then lay them out in front of you, on a table, a desk, or even the floor and organize them until you are happy with it. That is one strategy to both generate ideas and organize your thoughts as you go. Most of my students have found this to be an effective strategy.

Last, pick a notebook you can keep with you and make lists. Everything from a grocery list to a timeline for a project to a daily to-do list, it can really help keep you on track.

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David J’s Answer

I wold not worry about it mischief.
We all go through peeks and valleys.
We all have ups and downs.
What I would suggest without know all of the details is making time to re charge.
List all the things that make you feel happy and not spaced out.
Like spending time with you family, pet, or friends or even working out.
Just list all the things that keep you going down.
Then make sure to plan specific time to celebrate in the things that bring you most joy.
In those moments we need to meditate and celebrate.
We need to recognize when it is time for self.
I think sometimes all of us to get zoned out when we have a ton of stress and it seems that we have no time to enjoy life. Make sure to take time out to celebrate and live for yourself!

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Janice’s Answer

I want to second (third?) the advice to get evaluated for ADHD. I didn't get diagnosed until I was in my 50s, and it would have helped me a lot to learn it earlier. You should try to find someone who specializes in or at least has a lot of experience at working with ADHD patients and who knows the latest research on the subject. A diagnosis doesn't solve the problems, but sometimes medication helps, and it's also helpful just to know it's not a character flaw or laziness.

Another possibility you should think about is depression (and its cousin, anxiety). Especially if you haven't had attention problems in the past. Depression/anxiety can make it difficult to focus, and though it may seem strange, it's easy not to realize you're depressed. Like ADHD, depression is not your fault—it's a brain chemistry issue. Talk therapy, plus medication if advisable, can help you manage these problems if you have them. Your school may be able to refer you to a therapist.

The other thing you should consider is whether it would be helpful to take a semester or a year off. I know that sounds like quitting, but it's not. It's a chance to figure out what you want and what's going on inside your head. I had to take a semester off because of what people sometimes refer to as a "nervous breakdown" from anxiety/depression, and it gave me the space I needed to work on my problems. I went back to college in much better shape and even graduated on time. One of my sons had to take a year off for similar reasons. There are possible financial ramifications to doing that when it comes to some scholarships, etc., so before you decide to do it, make sure you know the consequences.

Don't try to deal with this alone. Lots of people want to help you succeed. If you can talk to your parents, do that, but that's a personal matter depending on your relationship. But school counselors, therapists, advisors, and even friends are all there for you. Good luck!

Janice recommends the following next steps:

DON'T blame yourself.
Talk to school about referral to a therapist.
Be evaluated for ADHD and depression.
Consider whether some time away from school would help.
Be kind to yourself.

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Kim’s Answer

I agree with the recommendation to be properly evaluated. But, assuming that is not the problem, I want to explore this. We all learn by different processes. Very FEW of us learn by auditory means. Yet, professors continue to lecture. Go figure! I learn by doing. So, if I was to watch the teacher cut the fish, and then be told, go do it, I couldn't do it either! Not unless I was following written step-by-step instructions. Don't beat yourself up over that! Since you like to doodle, incorporate it in your notes. Draw the fish. Draw the cuts. Number them. Doodle about the subject at hand.

I did that in an Administrative Law class. We were studying old case law. So I would try to illustrate whatever he was talking about, esp since he was soooo freakin' monotone it put me to sleep!

Reading is difficult. I used to be able to do it when I was young, but no more. Try visualizing whatever you are reading about. Also, for whatever reason, I find comprehension is better if I am actually holding a book, as opposed to reading on screen. Don't ask me to explain that - I can't! Again, going back to the Admin Law class, I found some on-line videos that explained the cases waaaay better than the professor did. So, if the book and teacher aren't getting it done for you, you may need to look for supplemental material to help drive it home. The visual of the videos made a lot more sense. I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about work conditions for bakers - until I saw the old basement huge hot brick ovens that they had back in the 1800s.

Essay writing? Once you come up with your main idea, try making a rough outline. Not the perfect kind you have to turn in, but a general idea of where you want to go and the steps you want to take to get there. Time management is hard when you are writing. Perhaps once you come up with the main idea you should walk the dog and NOT think about it. Amazingly, when we are not directly thinking about something, our brain is working on it in the background. In fact, I have literally solved real problems in my dreams.

Alternatively, it could be that you are not in classes that truly interest you. I know the cooking does, but the core classes are something we have to get through. Is it possible to go to a culinary institute rather than a college? "food" for thought.

One last idea. Take this free class! It starts today, but will be repeated. You may find something useful in it. I enjoyed it!


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Judith’s Answer

It is of utmost importance to set your priorities in your personal focus. The race is run in your lane, so do what you can do and don't do what you can't. It does not matter that others may take more AP courses or other enrichment. You are an individual with individual circumstances. Comparing to others is only a losing battle.

Judith recommends the following next steps:

Write a list of pros and cons to set priorities.
Set obtainable goals
Develop good study habits, preview, do the work and review.
If stress is too high, speak with a counselor who can help.