“You are a failure in engineering school. You will not become an engineer.”
Perhaps this was said once by someone who matter to you while you’re studying engineering. You cannot help but agree because indeed, you are mostly unsuccessful in your pursuit to become an engineer. Everything just keeps falling apart despite your perseverance to get it all together.
The hurt will always linger. But it is for your own good to stop thinking about this. Nobody deserves to be called a failure when one always tries to do his or her best. You may have failed but that doesn’t mean that you are a failure. You can never move on from your past mistakes if they keep bugging your mind.
To achieve no relative success at all in engineering school is a difficult thing to deal with. But you know what? It’s all done. If you have failed miserably before, there’s nothing much you can do about it but use them as lessons for the future. You cannot afford to dwell on it and drown into despair as that just wastes time.
Let go of the things that you cannot control – instructors not being good at their jobs and how your peers are doing. Instead, focus on what you can do. You are not at all powerless. You still have the ability to turn things around if only you can manage the things you have control over.
The work that needs to be done is mostly on you: your attitude, your study habits, your work ethics, and your time management.
Ever heard of “fake it until you make it”? That works. If you just keep on convincing yourself to have a positive attitude, you will eventually adopt it. It’s hard to do at first. It will take constant practice to train your mind that “this is fine” or “it will be better”. You will notice that this ‘fake’ optimism will already be part of your system without you knowing.
At times when you feel like sliding down the path of negativity again, first you have to recognize that you are really being negative. That way you have acknowledged it, so you could do something about it – that is to follow it up with a positive thought.
Your study habits
Something might be wrong with the way you study. Techniques and schedules are important factors.
Probably one big difference with you and those who do not really struggle with their academics is that they have perfected their art of studying. In engineering, where you are faced with a lot of problems requiring computations, you have to practice, practice, and practice solving problems. You have to condition your mind with studying the theory and principles through examples that will allow you to internalize the concepts. That way you will absorb them more than just staring at them.
While doing that, use the given-required-use-solution approach. It is a problem solving tool that eliminates the confusion about the engineering problems. All you have to do is write down what the problem tells you (do not forget the units), what the problem wants you to find (diagrams may be necessary to visualize) and what equations you are going to use before writing down all the steps you’re taking to get to the final solution. If you keep going at this, it will increase your problem solving speed and comprehension.
There will be times that you will be stuck a problem. You are allowed to take a break, but not too long that it will ruin your momentum. If you come back only to find that the problems are really impossible to solve, seek help from classmates or your instructors.
If you have no other choice but to cram, follow these tips.
Your work ethics
Even as engineering students, you are already bound to have the work ethics of an engineer. This is mostly about keeping at what you do.
Motivation is not one to wait for. It does not strike by itself for you to start working. This is what often kills most people’s work ethics. The odds are that you are not going to be motivated to do something you inherently do not want to do.
So start with the small things or simpler tasks instead of slacking off and waiting for the motivation to arrive. Do these micro-tasks by increments until you get things done.
Your time management
Remember what others say about finding that balance with sleep, study, and social life in engineering school? It is possible to get the best of those three worlds, it’s just a matter of time management.
Set priorities. You have to know which tasks are needed to be done immediately or can be done a little later. You can do things in between school breaks so you can free up some time at night.
There is also no room for you to procrastinate. This wastes a lot of time getting productive. Set aside your laziness if you are up to take the challenge of graduating in engineering school.
Are you a morning person or a night person? Find the time where you are most productive. You won’t have a quality time studying when you feel restless.
One more thing: most engineering students waste their lecture time by slacking off especially when there is a dull instructor. You are most likely to sleep or doodle that class away. My tip? Don’t. Make use of that time instead by studying the subject on your own while still being inside the classroom.
All of these personal improvements cannot be done overnight. And they are easier said than done.
That is why I will end with this: it’s going to take a little time, so be patient. When time comes that you’re already seeing yourself transforming into a successful engineering student, you will reap the rewards you deserve.