Have you always been a good student?

posted
14-Jan-12, 15:26
Avatar for Dalmation
posted about 8 years ago
Have you always loved school, and knew from day one that you would earn your PhD?

Or did you hate school, but love learning? If so, what was the pivotal moment (i.e. great teacher, inspiring course, a book) that turned things around?
posted
14-Jan-12, 16:47
edited about 29 seconds later
by GSM
Avatar for GSM
posted about 8 years ago
======= Date Modified 14 Jan 2012 16:48:28 =======
I was always good in primary school and loved learning, and in the first few years of high school. During the early stages of puberty (3rd/4th year of high school) I went downhill a good bit, grew my hair, started playing guitar, and focussed very little on my school work, and started being truant quite a lot. My first set of 'proper' exams suffered quite a bit as a result. I didn't do terribly... passed them all and got mainly Bs, but nowhere near what I would have been expected to achieve given how well I did up until that point in my life.

After that I started studying a bit more properly for my 5th year exams, which were the ones that would determine whether I got into University or not, and got the best results inthe school. Although I did keep the truancy bit, and in fact, truancy lasted all the way through the rest of my education.

Once I was in University I was top student getting almost exclusively A1s (the best A) until I graduated.

So in short, I suppose I've always been a good student in as far as getting results and learning the material went apart from the pubescent dip, and have always been a poor student in terms of attendance, but it has never really degraded my performance (probably increased it... I never did learn anything in class or in lectures, only ever in my time of private study!).

So I suppose in that sense I was always a good researcher because almost everything I've learned throughout my education has been self-taught and self-discovered, with very little reliance on teaching and lecturing (which is a good thing too because many of the lecturers at University were awful!).
posted
14-Jan-12, 17:18
edited about 20 seconds later
by Delta
Avatar for Delta
posted about 8 years ago
Quote From GSM:

======= Date Modified 14 Jan 2012 16:48:28 =======
...have always been a poor student in terms of attendance, but it has never really degraded my performance (probably increased it... I never did learn anything in class or in lectures, only ever in my time of private study!).

So I suppose in that sense I was always a good researcher because almost everything I've learned throughout my education has been self-taught and self-discovered, with very little reliance on teaching and lecturing (which is a good thing too because many of the lecturers at University were awful!).


The above describes me as well. My attendance at lectures was worse than bad and I'm far better at self-directed study. I think very few people make good lecturers, just my opinion though.
posted
14-Jan-12, 18:10
by GSM
Avatar for GSM
posted about 8 years ago
As for knowing that I was always going to get my PhD... no. I never knew what a PhD was until I started University, and coming from the background that I came from, the fact that I was attending University had already been bigged up as the greatest thing you can achieve in life, so I didn't know you could go beyond that.

Even after finding out what a PhD was, I had a look through some theses as a recently new undergraduate and decided it wasn't for me as it all seemed just to specific and, as a result, too dry. It wasn't until the last year of university that I became interested in the idea and found some topics that I liked enough to look at in relative depth.

And now that I've started my PhD, I don't think I can say even now with a great deal of confidence that I'll definitely get one. I'd like to think so, but to be honest the PhD life is hard and who knows how long I'll actually cope.
posted
14-Jan-12, 19:42
edited about 19 seconds later
by lughna
Avatar for lughna
posted about 8 years ago
======= Date Modified 14 Jan 2012 19:43:34 =======
In a word: yes - I loved all three levels of education and excelled academically in each. But, like Delta and AGM, I still consider a lot of what I have learnt to be self-taught. I didn't let poor teachers impact my performance and was often unsatified with the superficial covering of material.

I think university can really be the turning point for a lot of students. Many of my friends who were strong in secondary school (and naturally intelligent) just could not adapt well to a more self-taught environment. My experience was the opposite - suddenly I could learn however I saw fit and essays/exams allowed you to showcase narrower and deeper knowledge, rather than broad overviews.

posted
16-Jan-12, 12:16
by marasp
Avatar for marasp
posted about 8 years ago
I was really bad at school. I hated school. I loved university though. I learnt to love learning while in academia.
posted
16-Jan-12, 12:30
Avatar for screamingaddabs
posted about 8 years ago
I guess I enjoyed school, mainly because I played rugby 6 days a week and the work was easy enough that I didn't have to try. Towards the end of A-levels I suddenly reached the stage at which I couldn't just breeze through though and so my marks dropped off and I had to learn how to actually apply myself. I then went to uni, studying engineering because I didn't know what I wanted to do and heard Engineers are pretty employable. First year was relatively easy as I had done further maths before and so I breezed through again, until 3/4 of the way through the year when I had to apply myself and didn't. I then drank heavily and had an awesome time for my second year and just scraped the passing mark for the year. That made third year hard as I essentially had to learn 2 years of stuff in one year due to not learning it the year before. By fourth year (I did an MEng) I finally actually applied myself and worked a bit and so I finished with a decent 2:1. I sometimes wonder how well I'd have done if I had tried throughout, but meh, I passed and had a great time. A few years in industry and I'm now back at Uni, working properly at academic stuff. It's definitely a lot easier when you try (not to say it is easy as such, just EASIER than it would be without the effort!). I always fancied doing a PhD but I kind of fell into it in the end as a means to an end.

So, in short:

- I liked school and was indifferent to learning (it was easy)
- When I was actually pushed I tended to just do badly
- I eventually learnt study skills and found it all a lot easier again

Pivotal thing that turned it round was that I actually HAD to try in my fourth year or I would have got a 2:2, which I would've found unacceptable.
posted
16-Jan-12, 15:03
by Noctu
Avatar for Noctu
posted about 8 years ago
I really would echo Lughna's sentiments. I hated school and didn't much enjoy college either. I didn't get the grades I 'should' have got (according to my teachers), probably because I disliked the A-Level curriculum and the way things were ran. (& don't get me started on my secondary school, all girls private, an absolute nightmare - my family didn't have much money & I was slightly socially awkward so that made me scum in their eyes)

I managed to get into an ex-poly through Clearing and did a Psychology degree which I thoroughly enjoyed and did pretty well in (2:1). MSc I enjoyed even more, and did even better in that course. I feel that I've finally found my academic niche, and doing well :-)
posted
16-Jan-12, 19:02
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for HaloChanter
posted about 8 years ago
Absolutely not!

I was terrible in the last year or two of secondary school - socialising too much, joking around, dating - far too distracted to take academia seriously. I ended up with very mediocre GCSEs. College was a total disaster, barely attended classes and actually did not get a single grade above C! I then went to University to study a subject I hated and eventually dropped out.

So erm, no, not until I met my wife did I realise where my passion lay and returned to University where straight off the bat I started running up top grades and realised that when you find something you're passionate about, you can defy your expectations.

Cheesey, eh?

It's funny though, I do remember the exact moment when I thought 'Hmm...I want to do a PhD and get into research'. This was as a failed student and a University drop out. Here I am 6 years later, doing a funded PhD. How the world turns! ;-)
posted
17-Jan-12, 02:22
edited about 5 seconds later
by MHK
Avatar for MHK
posted about 8 years ago
I think from about the age of 14 I knew I wanted to do a PhD. When I was choosing my A-level options at school I told my teacher I wanted to do a PhD in chemistry. He laughed because he thought I wasn't good enough even to go to university; how wrong was he! I think if you want to do something badly enough anything is achievable.
posted
17-Jan-12, 14:00
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for TwankyPhD
posted about 8 years ago
good question

academically, i have always excelled. to be honest, i cruised right through school and my undergrad. my first masters was the first really challenging, back-to-the-wall course i encountered and i had to work harder than ever before. that's not to sound fat-headed, thats the way it was. i absolutely hated school though.

ive known for a few years i wanted to get my phd, though this changed from a classics one to journalism when i made a career change and did another masters a few years ago. going great now. love the lifestyle and love research
posted
17-Jan-12, 14:59
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for lindalou83
posted about 8 years ago
I can smell a research study here... if any of you are educational researchers ;-)

Umm, I don't know. I loved primary school and was always one of the top performing girls, but that changed when I went to secondary school. I got bullied, my parents split up, I missed three months of my GCSEs because I pretty badly injured myself and I didn't really try hard enough in sixth form. I loved my A-Level Psychology and my BSc Psychology though and I really enjoyed learning about everything and anything in that field. I love learning in general, but like some of the other posters I love learning on my own terms, through my own research. I will spend hours reading about something that interests me, but I can just as easily be turned off if it's something I find boring. I guess that's what makes us all great PhD students! As for a pivotal moment, I think it was two things - a teacher and a wrong decision.
We were taught the wrong syllabus for AS level (I was in the first year to go through it) Psychology, and had to re-sit the whole thing in Year 13 of school. Our teacher was sacked, understandably, and replaced by a younger, far more interesting teacher who made the subject come alive. I loved it, but I'd already committed to read another subject at University as I had been pushed in that direction in Year 12. I got 3 months in and then decided it wasn't for me, dropped out and re-applied to a friend's institution to do Psychology. And never looked back!
posted
17-Jan-12, 17:40
Avatar for Smoobles
posted about 8 years ago
Yep, I guess I've always been a 'good student'!! I loved learning even before I started school. I got good grades at GCSE and A level, and a 2:1 in my degree (probably should have applied myself a bit more and maybe I could have got a 1st, but to be honest I was enjoying myself too much! I'd have been disappointed with less than a 2:1, so really knuckled down in my final year).

I got my masters then decided I'd had enough of academia and got a job (at a university though!!). After a year, I decided that I missed learning and being in that academic environment so I started my PhD.

Now, three and a half years on, and I think I've finally had enough..... Got a job in industry to go to after I finish which will still involve learning about different scientific topics on a regular basis, but I won't be doing any of my own research. However, think I'll always have that 'student' mindset, and I've always said that if I won the lottery I would spend the rest of my time taking degrees in any subject that took my fancy, just so that I could keep on learning things!
posted
17-Jan-12, 23:07
Avatar for LabPixie
posted about 8 years ago
I was the worst pupil at school. I hated it. It was bad enough that I had to spend my days learning things I didn't care about in an environment where everyone seemed to hate me, but then they insisted on trying to fill up my evenings with too. Inevitably I didn't bother doing the homework; I spent many of my lunchtimes in detention and most of my reports featured the words "could do better".

The main turning point was the end of GCSEs and thinking about the future. I came to the conclusion that to have a job and get somewhere in life it was necessary to have at least one of good looks, some sort of practical talent, social skills or intelligence. A little self analysis led me to the conclusion that using my intelligence was the only option available. At the same time I had chosen to go to sixth form and was finally allowed to choose to only study subjects that I was actually interested in. Suddenly I went from worse student ever to the geeky person who spent all of their free periods studying and I loved it. Somehow that's continued all the way through my degree and into the PhD. Not bad for the worst pupil ever.
posted
18-Jan-12, 07:23
edited about 15 seconds later
by mumbler
Avatar for mumbler
posted about 8 years ago
I would say I was ok in school, top 10-20% but hardly ever top of the class. I should also add that I was (sadly, still am) a master procrastinator. I would muck around during the whole year, reading random books and doing extra curriculars. I'd start studying one or two days before the test, and do reasonably well, although under a lot of anxiety ;) Then I would promise myself I will start applying myself more next year, but end up doing the same thing again! I guess subconsciously I knew I could get by with a few hours of study.

PhD decision moment: interestingly I had no interest in research whatsoever, probably because I had really bad teachers in school and uni. I realised I wanted to do research during a job I had started just after graduating. Somehow I landed a job in one of the best companies in the field, and really started to enjoy work. Then I started to love it so much that I wanted to do it all the time, and be responsible for my own project, guide it the way I want and not worry about the company making profits off each penny.

Then quit job and started PhD, and sigh, motivation levels have been dropping ever since :( Always been jealous of those consistent hard workers who would always be top of the class :p

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