As a university student, you will often find yourself doing a lot of soul searching. I know it sounds cliché, but take it from someone who has been there – it’s completely, one hundred percent true. If your only experience with such deep meaningful moments is from watching teen dramas, be prepared for a shock. These “experiences” are not going to give you the answers you’re looking for; in fact, they usually just leave you with more questions. Your soul searching starts with the big picture stuff: Who am I? What am I doing here? What do I want out of life? and usually then devolves into something along the lines of: Should I order food? Can I take a Netflix break? Both? Yes, both is good.
Once again you are content with life. You don’t know if it is the mild food coma or the comedy you have decided to binge watch, but sometimes it is better not to question the universe. That is until your half hour study break has become a three hour marathon. Then comes the panic. You know what you’re doing is wrong, but you can’t stop. Another episode goes by. Panic gives way to shame and self-doubt. I’m just not cut out for this. It’s 2 am. I should just go to sleep. The books lie there, taunting you. I hate (insert subject here). Have you ever considered that maybe this isn’t your fault? Maybe you aren’t a terrible student. Maybe you’re just in the wrong major.
Does this story sound a little too familiar to you? Then it’s either time for a change of academic focus or an intervention for your Netflix addiction. How do you tell the difference? Well if this downward spiral is really due to your lack of interest in the subject matter you’re studying, you are probably also doing most of the following:
- Skipping class. Sleeping in or missing lectures to do other work doesn’t count. I’m referring to the “I literally can’t remember the last time I went” kind of skipping, which only means one thing: you are not interested.
- Having trouble staying on task. You find yourself easily distracted when you sit down to study. Your Facebook account is always one tab away. Your cell phone is in your hand. Your jammed stapler is suddenly fascinating (before and after you have taken the time to unjam it).
- Searching for the motivation you used to have. The work ethic you had in high school seems almost superhuman. Now just the thought of doing anything class-related is exhausting. You usually take a nap instead.
- Anything but your readings. If you haven’t opened the textbook you nearly bankrupted yourself to buy, your prognosis for the rest of the semester is not looking good. Yes, some students pride themselves on acing classes based on lecture notes alone. But if this is really something you are passionate about (which it should be) you will want to read more about it whether the material is testable or not.
- Procrastinating. While I have yet to meet a student who has never put anything off until later, it is not the act itself that should raise red flags but the reason behind it. Pulling an all-nighter to finish the paper you had no time to start until the last minute because of all of your other obligations is the norm. However, purposefully doing anything else to avoid working on your assignments until is almost impossible for you to complete them on time might be a sign that this discipline is not for you.
- Enjoying your electives more than your required courses. These are the lectures you show up for every single week. Not only are you actually prepared and engaged but you leave looking forward to the next class. Take a step back and you will probably see that most of the classes you choose to take of your own free will fall under a certain branch of academics. Maybe this is what you should actually be getting a degree in.
- Letting your grades slip (and surprisingly not caring). You are intelligent. You have made this far in the education system and you are so close to having something to show for it. Don’t sacrifice your GPA because you could care less. Trust me; there are enough challenging courses that will be more than willing to drag it down for you (even when you are studying something you love).
- Avoiding opportunities you should be pursuing. Contrary to how it might appear, most universities actually want you to be employable. They benefit if you get hired and excel. This creates an incentive for them to provide avenues for their students to gain real work experience. However, it is still up to you to make the most of these opportunities. Being reluctant to search them out and apply is often the first sign that you are not serious about your future as a (insert subject here) major.