Self-control is the ability to deal with problems
Students who learn well are those who can handle a significant amount of confusion and “active uncertainty.” This ability to handle uncertainty is absolutely crucial because the students’ ideas are being reorganized and there must be a time of transition between what students already know and what they come to know as they learn.
–Renate and Geoffrey Caine and Sam Crowell -Mindshifts xiii
Some students find it difficult to concentrate on learning. It may be because
- They are preoccupied with a difficult situation at home.
- They are disturbed by powerful and troubling memories.
- They have emotional problems such as anxiety,depression, or eating disorders.
- They are struggling with addictions.
- They feel overwhelmed by the difficulty of their work and are terrified of failing.
- They are lonely.
To some extent, all students have concerns or difficulties that are on their mind, making it hard to really listen to a lecture or to focus on the book they are reading. Part of preparing to learn includes recognizing and dealing with these issues.Whereas the average individuals “often have not the slightest idea of what they are of what they want, or of what their opinions are,” self actualizing individuals have a superior awareness of their own impulses, desires, and subjective reactions in general.
— Abraham Maslow (in Motivation and Personalities)
Learn to be aware of problems that interfere with learning
If, however, you are dealing with serious medical or physical problems, you need to ask for help.
See a doctor. See a counselor or psychiatrist. Do NOT wait until problems get worse. See a professional as soon as you suspect you need help.
This young woman has a serious problem and is speaking to her counselor. Perhaps she is having difficulty in her classes. The counselor can discuss ways she can get help.
Perhaps she has an eating disorder. Perhaps she is depressed. Maybe she is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Or possibly, she has been raped and is afraid she might be pregnant.
Whatever the problem, she is wise to find help. The counselor here is sympathetic and will know many ways the student can get help with her problems.
Locate Sources of Help
There may be a number of sources of help in your school. You may have a clinic where a nurse or doctor can advise you on medical problems. You may have a study skills center for academic assistance. You may have other counselor available to discuss other kinds of problems. Another possibility is to contact someone in a local church, synagogue, mosque, etc. Many of these persons have training in pastoral counseling. If not, they are usually able to find someone qualified to help you.
If you aren’t sure where to go, look through the college website or catalog. Look at materials handed out at the beginning of the year. Call the counseling office or the clinic. Explain your problem and ask who you should talk to.
If your problems are less serious, you still need to deal with them.
1. Begin by reading the other pages in this section. It is common for problems in one area to be related to problems in other areas.
2. For some problems, there are links to other websites that I consider helpful. You can always search the Internet for further helpful websites.
3. Go to your library. If you can’t find books that seem helpful, ask the librarian for help. They are there to help you.
4. Study the websites you find. Read the books carefully. Take notes on suggested methods for handling the problem.
5. Make a serious effort to use these suggestions. Don’t give up after the first hour or two. Try an hour daily for at least several weeks. It always takes time and serious effort to learn new strategies.
6. Try several different strategies and then continue to use those that seem most useful.
7. If the problem is not improving, then you need to talk to a counselor to get help. You are in college to learn. If these problems interfere with your learning, it is important to do something about it.
There is no satisfaction that can compare with looking back across the years and finding you’ve grown in self-control, judgment, generosity, and unselfishness.
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In the pages that follow this one, we will address these topics: