Post #9 Engineering Students Who Worry
Your college career at this point in life involves meticulously taking gradual and deliberate steps that will lead you toward your degree. And I emphasize meticulous, gradual and deliberate because I know how the idea of graduation can seem so far away. I do understand that you may feel overwhelmed and even guilty if you so much as take a small mental break from your work. Worried engineering students can change a few habits to get some needed relief, read on!
Sometimes the perfectionist shines through and tells us we could do more and that we should do more. Are you the student who will study for an exam literally up until the minute class starts? Some of you feel like time slips away too quickly and you need every waking minute to study. If this describes you, I would like to offer some suggestions so that you do not fall into the trap of constant worry. These suggestions will help encourage you to work smarter, not necessarily harder.
3 Ways to Decrease Overwhelm
One: Schedule Your Tasks
Firstly, and this may sound a bit corny but try it: schedule all your dedicated homework time, study time, office hour time and personal time on a calendar. Try it every Sunday prior to the start of the workweek. You will first write in your course schedule and then plan everything else around that. This half of the trick is called planning ahead. The second half of this activity is to honor your calendar, stick to it! Creating and committing to your calendar means honoring yourself. Just as important, you can enjoy some scheduled leisure time without feeling guilty and without having to be mentally connected to your work 24/7.
Two: Seek Study Buddies
Secondly, it is essential that you find study groups in each of your courses. I cannot emphasize this strategy enough because it was a huge mistake I made as an engineering student. Do not try to solve everything or prepare reports on your own. The power of study groups allows each person to access other ways of thinking and other ways of problem-solving. There is much to be gained by learning different strategies from your peers. Everyone brings different ideas to the table and you will miss out on critical information if you try to go it alone. If it scares you to reach out and talk to others then please read Post #4.
Three: Do NOT Fall Behind
Last, keep up with the material as it is presented! Deliberately understand every single homework assignment, every single laboratory experiment, every single document you read. It can be easy to get into a habit of wanting to complete tasks for the sake of completion. Do not lose sight of the fact that you are in school to educate yourself. For example, learn and understand every concept or idea that is built into your homework, one problem at a time. If you don’t understand then ask and ask and keep asking until you get it. I promise that if you are diligent about understanding concepts as they are introduced, as opposed to waiting until the last day, your amount of overwhelm can significantly decrease. Studying for exams will no longer involve cramming. Rather, it will be a review of concepts you are already familiar with.
If you are a constant worrier, I want to emphasize there are tactics and habits you can form that can alleviate some of your stress. These include pre-planning, studying with others and keeping up with all coursework. Take it from a former engineering student who used to be the ultimate procrastinator!