Burning out at college, about to fail. Advice much appreciated.

Hi guys,

I'm in a bit of a rut. I'm 24 years old, living in the UK and took the decision to return to college in order to put my life back on track. I've been to college twice before and dropped out fairly quickly on both occasions studying Music Technology.

After a heavy bout of existential depression and soul searching, not to mention years of shitty jobs and a few crap relationships, I decided to study Animal Management. I had hoped this would lead me into university and onto the non-descript "better things". I know my life would be considerably better by going to university and opening up some doors professionally and socially.

So far I've nearly completed the course with just a few weeks to go. Despite being an older student and practically making no real friends on the course (or in the entire college, save a handful of staff members), I managed to muster all the enthusiasm and willpower I could to complete all my work on time and received the highest grades possible. My course is entirely coursework based. There are x amount of modules that need to be completed and I must receive at least a pass in each to get the qualification.

After a work placement with a local zoo working with elephants for 3 months, which was the best 3 months of my life, I now feel like I've done the zookeeper thing and know what that's like so I can focus on something else.

Except when I returned to college the next year I was suffering pretty badly with a slipped disc in my back. This caused much pain and agony. As a result I fell behind with my work. After a while I really started resenting college. Actually these feelings manifested pretty quickly during the first year, I think I only got through it because I had the work placement to look forward to. I hated the other students (most being superficial, immature 17-18 girls, I hated the lessons and the work itself (it was so patronising, un-engaging, needlessly bulked out and the tasks are so vague you often have no idea what you are meant to produce).

This disinterest continued throughout the year. I fell more and more behind as my enthusiasm for the subject just plummeted. My back problems also got much worse recently and I was forced to take 2 months of college and work. Again, I didn't manage to do any of my coursework.

As it stands now. I have 6 weeks left to submit all my work. And I practically have a years worth left to do. I have 3 offers for a place on a zoology course at some really good universities. But the grade requirements are very high. Although, I've already ruled out being able to attend university this year because of my financial situation.

Right now, I'm just feeling completely burnt out by the whole process. The desire to complete any of this work has been completely exhausted. Much of it concerns material that I have missed entirely in my absence. The idea of getting it completed seems to be an impossibility right now, even if I wanted to.

Relentless guilt is now eating away at me for coming so close to completing the course but falling at the last hurdle. Not going to university offers a grim outlook these days unless you happen to be well connected. Not that I really feel like studying zoology is actually what I want to do anymore anyway. I guess the choice of animal management came about from being the only subject that vaguely interested me at the time. As I can testify from shovelling poo for three months solid, the novelty of animal work wears off... That and there are practically no jobs to go for anyway and generally the pay is insulting.

Right now I'm looking for advice as to what I can do. What are my options at this point. I honestly feel like this college attempt will fail no matter what I do, I just don't believe I'm capable of it in this mental state with this short time. So please, if anyone has been in this situation or knows anyone who has. What would you do or what way do you think I can rekindle the vital spark I need to get through this.

Thanks for reading.

Soul searching doesn't have a set time frame. It can take much longer. I'm 28 right now. But their's people out their that are probably up to their 50's still doing the same thing. I'm starting to understand that sometimes the way to search is to attempt outside stimuli and understand what I get from it.

Look at the time you worked at the zoo and understand why you liked it. Obviously something was there that you liked. It's probably not the exact job you are looking for but it has something there that made things exciting. Even though I have the job that I want right now, I am certain I can find a different job that allows me to enjoy brainstorming ideas with a group of creative people, creating stuff, and solving problems.

Did you like working with animals? (some people don't like to deal with people) Did you like caring for something or someone? Did you like to maintain the environments for the elephants? Did you like working alone? Did you like manual labor? What was running through your mind as you did this job? Or did you like the idea doing an unusual job?

If possible, find what parts do you like and post it here. I think others will than work with that to narrow your focus. It looks like you just like certain aspects. YOu probably don't like zoology if you are struggling to learn it. For me, I don't like all aspects of art but I found a part of the art world I can love. But I have other aspects to fulfill. I was aware of this when I did glassblowing. Beginner glassblowing requires teamwork and it blew me away when I found I wanted that. I don't want to be a cog in the machine, I want to be the team that made that cog.

Notice how this soul searching works? Do something out there. Than take a step back and look at what you enjoyed. The thing you do is to find more of what you enjoy. Along that way, you're going to find friends. You're going to find people that enjoy what you do. And probably through that, you'll find someone that wants to share your interest.

I feel that you don't want to be the 8 to 5 people that come home, sit on the couch and watch tv shows or movies for the rest of the night. If so, welcome to the other part of the world that can't stand sitting.

While being in a similar situation:
In the UK.
Third attempt on education, 1st year of 2.
Despise all the students here.

I had a bit of a problem with my ICT coursework. I asked my ICT teacher to help me. He really helped me get on track to what I was supposed to do.
I hope your teacher/s understand that you've missed stuff out during your absence, it wasn't your fault after all. The sooner you tell someone your problem with your coursework, the better, especially since you only have 6 weeks. I am no stranger to doing work last minute. It is not worth leaving again due to raised problems and lost motivation.

Raven's Nest:
Right now I'm looking for advice as to what I can do. What are my options at this point. I honestly feel like this college attempt will fail no matter what I do, I just don't believe I'm capable of it in this mental state with this short time. So please, if anyone has been in this situation or knows anyone who has. What would you do or what way do you think I can rekindle the vital spark I need to get through this.

Thanks for reading.

Talk to your professor about taking an "incomplete" for that course (if your school offers such a thing). Basically, your grade is marked as Incomplete until you finish the work, usually within the next semester. If you don't, it's marked as failing. If you do, you get your grade.

Since at least some of the reason you're behind is medical (the slipped disc you mentioned), you could ask for some leeway there... but being honest with your professor (and yourself) will lead you to admit it's also a time management thing.

The soul-searching situation you're in is a very common one, especially these days. We're raised to believe the "real world" will operate a certain way. Sure, people say the world isn't fair, but we don't really have any way of internalizing what that means... until it hits us, and we experience it for ourselves.

There isn't going to be an epiphany or a lightbulb moment that tells you that you're on the right track, or tells you what the right track is. There will definitely be some "false positives" on that front. And no matter what track you choose, there's going to be a honeymoon period where it's new and engaging and everything's brilliant. And that honeymoon period always ends, and that's when the real work begins.

But all the stories we grow up with? If it's not "happily ever after," they at least end with a "pretty good ever after." We don't see Snow White and Prince Charming five years down the road arguing over whether to buy a new couch or pay down the credit card.

Also, we all wrestle at some point with the realization that all of the nice things our parents (or other adult role models) had were earned over a long period of time. We don't graduate, walk out the door, and get issued our grown-up toys. It doesn't happen, no matter how hard we work.

And I'm not saying you don't realize all of this stuff, I'm sure you do. But we all go through this internally (or externally, for some folks), and you don't recover from that punch in the gut overnight.

Hang in there. I'm not saying life will or won't get better, but I'm saying you'll adjust to it (and find that maybe it can be a different kind of good than what you originally went looking for).

Raven's Nest:
snip

If your right at the end, get it done. You have come this far, dont let it go to waste.

what was it you enjoyed about working at the zoo? Your answer of what to do may be there...

Talk to your tutor and explain what has happened. They may help you get the work done. Or maybe an extension of the deadline because of your medical problems. The thing NOT to do is keep it to yourself. Another pair of eyes may help you realise something you had not considered before :)

I'm in a very similar position, but I'm only 19 and in my first year so if I fuck up I still have plenty of time! :D

Well okay not really, but yeah, I have to do almost a semesters' worth of work in like 2 weeks, and keep up with my current work. Sucks man. Anyway's I talked with some of my lecturers and guidance/financial councillor dude explaining the circumstances and I was basically given some leeway with a new deadline.

So yeah, try talking to your lecturers and maybe see if you can get some grinds set up or a deadline extension.

There is no way on this planet that one years worth of coursework will be finished in six weeks so there is no point in stressing out about it.

You failed to do your coursework for reasons that are not your fault and beyond your control, therefore I think that you will be able to talk to your college, come clean about the situation and try again from September.

If you are tired now, there is no way that you will survive University from Septemver, but University isn't going anywhere, the fees are as high as they can possibly go, so there is no harm in reapplying next year.

You have nothing to feel guilty about. Things like this happen and they are all part of life. I have spent the past two years of my life trying to get into medical school so yeah, failing and standing back up again is all part of the process. This quote helped me when I didn't get into medical school first time round (sob, rejection!!)

"our greatest glory is not in never falling but rising everytine we fall".

What universities gave you an offer?

If you realistically have no chance of completing the year, then you should talk to your tutor about possibly deferring and coming back to it next year. If you made them aware of your medical issues then this should be no problem, if not then you may need to get some proof on a long term injury, but your tutors will be fairly understanding, and you could even get an extension on your coursework to help you complete the year, this could at least give you another couple of weeks.
Don't forget that they really want you to pass, if they didn't care about you, it still looks bad on the records if you fail, so they will know your options and it is worth talking it over with your personal tutor, if you have one of those in your course, or the head of your department, though you may well have to e-mail and ring to make an appointment.
As for motivation, well things like diet and exercise have an effect, and that might be something to take into consideration.

maybe you should take a small break but prioritize what you should do. after that then maybe you can celebrate and do what you want. take a huge break or learn something new.

Johndo:
.

Indeed, I already identified the thing that makes me happiest in a working career. Working with a small, but dedicated team of experts in pursuit of a worthy objective. Preferably in the field and with the opportunity to work in all sorts of habitats and locations.

Broady Brio:
.

Fortunately my tutors have been great. Technically they could have kicked me off the course after a month even from sickness. But they believed in me so much they have made a chance possible

Dastardly:
.

I am very familiar with these issues as you predicted. My time spent soul searching lasted around two years, guided by a friend of mine, who being ten years older than I had some great insight and support. I certainly don't take adulthood lightly but you're right, the transition is certainly quite sobering.

daveman247:
.

Discussing it with other people and coming clean with my tutors was certainly the best way to approach my problem. Thanks for reminding me. Training intelligent animals such as the Elephants I was working with gave me an immense satisfaction when I realised that they responded positively and honestly seemed to enjoy the sessions. That in itself is a great reason to do the job and it's certainly something i'll bear in mind when considering my career ahead.

Icy Lemon:
.

Although the deadlines cannot be extended, i've been promised one to one support from all my tutors which is certainly worth it's weight in gold. I hope you manage to pull through as well.

bluepilot:
.

Guess i'm going to fight it to the bitter end regardless. Reading, Aberystwyth and Nottingham University have all offered me a course on a zoology degree.

Galletea:
.

As I've mentioned previously, my tutors have been very accommodating. It is great to know I have earned their respect and support even if I failed to achieve the same with my classmates.

wendy:
.

It seems I have taken far longer a break than I imagined, now is the time where I must lock horns with my future and seize happiness for myself.

Thank you all for your input guys. Just wanted say after having spoken to my tutors and having a good hard look in the mirror I've decided to just do whatever it takes to get through my course with the necessary grades and attend Aberystwyth University in Wales this year on a Zoology/Microbiology course.

I see this moment as the one of the most important choices I have had to make and I can say with pure clarity that if I let this chance slip it will haunt me for the rest of my days.

I feel I also owe much of this sudden burst of spirit due to playing Kawata Shoujo. Not the first time something like this has inspired great mental changes in myself. You just can't deny the affect of great storytelling.

Thanks, Raven's Nest

I hated university, but got through it because it is just a process to go through so that you can reach your goals.
My best friend took eight years to get a bachelors degree,

So I think the resentment you feel should not be a factor for you to give up in your studies, and the time you take to complete it should be entirely at your own pace.
Buit for me, quitting is not an option...

It seems I have taken far longer a break than I imagined, now is the time where I must lock horns with my future and seize happiness for myself.

Thank you all for your input guys. Just wanted say after having spoken to my tutors and having a good hard look in the mirror I've decided to just do whatever it takes to get through my course with the necessary grades and attend Aberystwyth University in Wales this year on a Zoology/Microbiology course.

I see this moment as the one of the most important choices I have had to make and I can say with pure clarity that if I let this chance slip it will haunt me for the rest of my days.

I feel I also owe much of this sudden burst of spirit due to playing Kawata Shoujo. Not the first time something like this has inspired great mental changes in myself. You just can't deny the affect of great storytelling.

Thanks, Raven's Nest

that's good to know! i'm happy with your decision. i think it's great now that you found what you really want to do and now that you're motivated. good luck! :)

 

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