Dagger University: Get Your Nose on that Grindstone, Cowboy
I'm not sure if this is going to be the kind of problem that you were expecting to be asked, but I am currently facing a problem of not having enough motivation to do my work in school anymore. I am a computer science major in my Freshman year. It's probably one of the hardest majors at the college that I go to. I started out the school year with all these plans and goals to work really hard and do well in college, but right now, I can't find the motivation to do any of my work. I find myself asking myself why am I doing all this work and I'm already slacking off way too much. What should I do??
Let me give you the advice that my parents gave me in this very same situation: “Get your gol-dang behind off that couch and hook yerself back up to them gol-darn cattle. Those fields won’t plow themselves, missy.”
Clearly, life on the farm isn’t as magical as we’d all hoped. The same can be said for your academic life at college. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s like puttin’ up a barbed wire fence in the middle of a sleet storm while wearing your pajamas. Will—can I call you Prince William? Billy the Kid? Mad-Skillz-Will? No?—you’re facing an issue that everyone faces at some point or another during his first year at college: motivation. When you’re surrounded by options that seem so much more fun than homework (parties, Frisbee, television), it’s really hard to stay focused and get down to academic business, especially when you’re dealing with a major that requires you to construct fully operational robot-spaceships. (I’m pretty sure that’s what “computer science” entails.)
Fortunately, I can tell that you’ve got it in you to push through this slump. You know how I can tell that? Magic mind-reading powers. And by the fact that you said “I started out the school year with all these plans and goals to work really hard and do well in college.”
The key is to recapture your former flame of inspiration and remember what it was that drove you to excel. Why did you choose your major? To score gorgeous chicks? To hack into Bill Gates’ mainframe? To become an astronaut and eat freeze-dried peanut butter sandwiches? Exactly. You’re still the same brilliant student you’ve always been—you’ve just got a lot more distractions. So remind yourself of your original passion, get organized, and hunker down. If you’ve got a 10-page paper or a nightly assignment, give yourself a frame of time in which to finish it, and during that time, try not to get sidetracked by Facebook, your roommate’s rampant alcoholism, or how incomparably sexy your hair looks reflected in your laptop.
And when you finish your assignment and accomplish your academic goals, reward yourself! Buy some stock in Apple, play an inappropriately aggressive game of hacky-sack, or watch an entire season of Gossip Girl (you know you love it). The key here is balance. You’re going to get burned out if your only focus is school work, but if you give in completely to distractions, you’ll end up living in a box next to the train tracks (and I will not share my cardboard with you, so don’t even ask).
You’re going to be fine, Will. You may even be the next Einstein. So keep your nose to the grindstone and get yourself hooked up to them cattle. Those fields aren’t going to plough themselves.
Want Chelsea Dagger to tackle your college-related issues? Send your question to Dagger at firstname.lastname@example.org.