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Thread: Academically Overwhelmed

  1. #11
    I edited out my reply because I realized it was overly negative. Thank you for all the replies. Given me things to think. I appreciate that. I will come back to this thread tomorrow when i might feel more positive about this mess.
    Last edited by orangejello; 03-02-2011 at 01:32 AM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by orangejello View Post

    Reaching the point where I am afraid to even approach my instructors is not good but I tend to practice avoidance and it seemed easier to avoid and think I could catch up.
    I am thinking that this is probably your first step. Talk to the professors. Like Richard said, the fact that they are looking for you is a good sign. See if they are willing to give (another?) extention, or if it is too late for that.

    Are you further behind in any one course .... if you ditched just one, would it make a big difference?

    And again, like already said, in the past you have tended to be doing better that you have thought. If you stick it out, is a mediocre grade a B or a D- ?

    But if you already have so much effort already invested in the classes, I would see what the policy is about incompletes (if you don;t already know) and use that as your backup plan, instead of dropping them at this point.

    ps ...

    But I have to say that I was double checking the date of this post, I had a sense of deja vu reading it. The last time you had health issues interfering w/ classes, I think you got extensions, and stuck it out? Looking at that time, was it the right choice, or should you have cut your losses and dropped a course?

    Ok, guess that was a lot of questions answering your question, huh?
    T7-8 since Feb 2005

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by orangejello View Post
    I don't know what to do. How do you get your concentration and focus back when it seems to have totally abandoned you?
    And as far as focus, and concentration. I don't think I could be very helpful there. As I realize my response, did not address this question at all ...

    For me, what works best is to force myself to take a babystep in the right direction. Read just one chapter, or edit 2 pages, email just one professor, set a timer for 30 minutes and force yourself to concentrate for just that tiny block of time.... whatever is applicable to your situation. Sometimes once I get one thing started, it isn't as overwhelming to continue as it is to start. (And a lot of the time, I have to take more than one babystep ..... if the first one doesn't work, let it go. And try it again a little later. )
    Last edited by sjean423; 03-02-2011 at 04:27 PM.
    T7-8 since Feb 2005

  4. #14
    Update: I have been avoiding this thread because the situation, outside of the classroom, has gone from bad to worse. I am getting caught up with my work but overall the situation has not been good.

    A very big part of the problem, and the cause of considerable stress, is that I am dealing with a completely ignorant and belligerent advisor from my school's office that deals with accessibilty and accommodations. I had a very good advisor last year who was supportive and helped liason with my professors. Unfortunately she left to take a job at another school. And dealing with her replacement has been a nightmare. The situation has deteriorated to the point that I am now left with making a formal complaint through the school's ombudsman and human right's advisor. It isn't so much that she is failing to help me faciliate some very badly needed, and well documented, academic accommodations, but along with that failure, I am being treated very dismissively. I was quite ill for the first 5 weeks or so of the semester and my energy and pain levels have been unpredictable. I fell behind and despite my efforts to catch up, it hasn't been easy. But I am trying. However despite providing a letter from my doctor verifying my illness, the advisor told me she didn't think it was a disability related issue but more one of time management. She tried to pawn me off on the university's counselling services--who don't have any authority to grant disability related academic accommodations.

    I am dealing with somebody who, despite being a so called "expert" when it comes to disabilities and education, seems to think that a wheelchair ramp is all that is required and somebody to scribe my notes and exams. But where I need help is to liason with my professors. However she fed me a BS line that at the graduate student level I should have closer working relationships with my professors than I did as an undergraduate, and therefore faciliate my own accommodations. She said she "failed to understand" how she could do anything to help me as a grad student. Thankfully she was stupid enough to write this in an email. I asked the university's ombudsman if only undergraduates were eligible for support through the school's disability services office. He told me no and that as a public funded institution, the university had a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for any student with a documented disability. At this point, I am trying to decide how to best deal with this. With only 3 weeks of classes left before the final exam period, I am slowly getting caught up but rapidly running out of time and energy. I don't know that I have this fight in me. But I also have 5 more courses to finish after this for my MA, so unless I switch schools, if I don't deal with this now it will just be a headache waiting to happen for the fall semester.

    I am at the point where I am starting to wonder if this is even worth it. It shouldn't be this hard to try to deal with a university office whose very mandate is to provide support and assistance to students with disabilities. I was talking to a student yesterday who was physically threatened by a professor that he would have her removed from the classroom by campus security if she brought in her service dog (is hard to believe by apparently 20 other students witnessed it). Now I seriously doubt security would do that unless she did something threatening to the professors or another student, but the fact he used his position of power as the professor to even say that is very troubling. When she went to the disabilities services office for help, she was told, by the same advisor, she didn't consider that a disability related issue, but rather one to be taken up with the head of the academic department. WTF? At first I thought "maybe it is just me." I thought maybe I just pissed this lady off and she was refusing to help me out of spite. But this goes beyond that.
    It just strikes me that it shouldn't be this hard for students with disabilities.
    Last edited by orangejello; 03-24-2011 at 06:08 PM.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by stephen212 View Post
    What are you studying?

    I was a graduate student and can also relate to the stresses you're experiencing, which can feel overwhelming. I can't say that I ever reached out to my professors for help or understanding, which was unfortunate considering that I was in a psych program, but then again few of my profs ever lived up to my expectations as people I'd want to reach out to. But I did manage to get the work done and always on time.

    FWIW, my advice (and does anybody EVER take anyone's advice?) is that you really must communicate with your profs. I don't see how doing so will add to your already considerable stress level and hopefully it will have the opposite effect -- unburdening, at least somewhat, your anxieties. Perhaps they have some strategies that they can offer to help be as productive as possible given all your constraints (e.g., work, disability).

    Any professor worth his/her salt wants to see their students succeed. I think you should bring them into the process and give them that opportunity.
    I am working on an MA in "cultural studies." Which is basically code word for "take whatever courses you want, just make sure you end with x number of credits." It does actually have a few course requirements common to any MA program the school offers, but it allows a lot of flexiblity in designing your own program. While this has been very good for me, the downside is that by not being attached to any specific adademic faculty or department, I am lacking support in the way of an academic advisor.

    The workload has been very intense and I now realize that physically I need to be more realistic in how many courses I can take at once. My profs this semester do seem like very decent people. But it has been hard for me to approach them because I don't want to come across like I am expecting or demanding special treatment. And theoretically that is where disability services should be willing to step in and help liason so it can be established up front what is needed from both me and the professors to make my accommodations work.

    I have thought about just giving this up and simply auditing courses so I can still enjoy the learning process and dispense with the work. But that wouldn't feel right to me. I wouldn't feel so invested if I did that. I am trying to deal with the professors on my own at this point. But it isn't easy for me.

  6. #16
    I think you're right in that this "adviser" thinks the job merely entails provision of ramps, etc. Failing to understand how she could do anything to help you as a grad student is an admission that she is not qualified for the job, and - worse - is apparently unwilling to even think about become qualified. Her mandate should be to figure out what she could do to facilitate your education.

    However, I think there may be a kernel of truth in her statement that you should have closer working relationships with your professors. Of course, I don't know what you have or have not done, and it's also true that some profs are not terribly approachable (indeed, this business of threatening to eject a student because of her service dog seems egregious). But that's a key to success.

    Hell, even there is something this adviser could have easily done - she could have picked up the phone, called one of your profs and set up a meeting with the 3 of you, where she would act as your advocate and help you work things out. Instead, she washed her hands of the problem.

    Absolutely, it shouldn't be that hard. You're entitled to their assistance, it's a shame it's not forthcoming.

    P.S. I just read what you wrote as I was writing!

  7. #17
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    The service dog isn't a disability issue?

    Well, the good thing about that comment, is you know it isn't just you. She definitely just wants to wash her hands of anything beyond ramps and transcription.

    I am afraid tho, that you are going to have to deal with the professors yourself. She obviously is not going to, and I suspect, if you go over her head and have her forced to, she will do it with an attitude that might undermine anything you have already done.

    Not to say that I don't think you should take this to a higher level. Just don't expect anything positive to come out of it in time for this semester.

    It shouldn't be this hard. That is exactly why her job exists.

    I would be interested in seeing if more students are having trouble with her. A group of complaints would carry more weight.
    T7-8 since Feb 2005

  8. #18
    Senior Member diddlindoug's Avatar
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    Circleville Ohio
    Hey OJ...i was in about the same bot (no, not the pasta boat...LOL). I found that the school had a disability advisor to help me get through classes when I was in bad shape. Sounds like you are just hitting a brick wall. Dont get discouraged, just hang in there and see if your complaints are addressed to help you. Good Luck!

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by diddlindoug View Post
    Hey OJ...i was in about the same bot (no, not the pasta boat...LOL). I found that the school had a disability advisor to help me get through classes when I was in bad shape. Sounds like you are just hitting a brick wall. Dont get discouraged, just hang in there and see if your complaints are addressed to help you. Good Luck!
    Thanks dougie.

    I guess though it is now a case of when things couldn't get worse, they do. Communication between me and the disability advisor has completely broken down. I am not getting anywhere engaging in a war of words with her over email-- although she has provided me with ample written material to make an official complaint. I talked to a lawyer who advises the school's student's association. After reading through the email exchanges, he feels I should lodge a formal complaint with the univerisity That will have to wait though as right now I just dont have the time or energy right. I dont really have any interest in making a complaint either, to be honest. But the school recieves extra funding in part based on how many students are requesting help from the disabilities services office. So that makes me feel that I might have some sort of obligation to do so.

    I did get a letter from my doctor and go talk directly to my profs.
    I have 1 class close to caught. Another is doable, although I have a lot to catch up on in the next 3 weeks. Both of these profs were understanding. Is funny how much I could accomplish with one brief office visit compared to 7 weeks of grief trying to do it "the official way" and going through disability services. The third class is a hopeless mess. The prof is willing to grant me a bit of extra time, but made it clear to me that he isnt happy about it. However he blew off our class himself this semester by not showing up for a number of classes and he hasnt marked anything all semester. So given that, he said he
    "could probably" cut me some slack. Gee thanks buddy lol.

    All that aside I have been catching up by putting in 8 to 10 hour days. Which hasnt been easy. Still struggling with fatigue and concentration issues. I probably can get incomplete grades but it will be a nightmare to arrange. But i dont know, I am just running out of time no matter how hard I try.

  10. #20
    Hi OJ, I am so glad you did this. I am a teacher of 17-18 year olds and get a lot of excuses, but when there is even a chance that an excuse is legitimate, I always grant extra time. It doesn't hurt me to turn in grades a week or two late, and the student is doing the same work. I think (HOPE) that your profs will be understanding. I also tell the students to come to me, not through an office, since I am a real and non-monstrous person whereas an office is part of a bureaucracy.

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