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Overwhelmed by phase 1

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  • Overwhelmed by phase 1

    Hello everyone,

    I’m looking for some advice. I’m currently in phase 1 of my engineering cadetship, and it’s completely shocked me at how bad my academic education knowledge is.

    I’ve been out of education for a considerable amount of time, so the maths, science and electrical sides are extremely confusing. The classes are going at such a pace and all the younger cadets seem to be taking it in all. I’m studying in the evenings and getting a tutor, but so far nothing is sinking in.

    I know it’s early days, but even the most basic stuff seems well above me. I literally know nothing!

    I’m probably panicking (Which isn’t helpful I know) and I know these things take time. It’s just I’ve only got one chance at this and most things I have to work extra hard at.

    I wish I could be laid back and enjoy the experience. I’ve spoken to tutors and they all say "Everything will be fine”

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    A Worried Engine Cadet

  • #2
    Not unusual, I know many who were the same (generally older cadets) and they were given the support to get them through - they won’t want you to be a wasted investment remember.

    First of all, are you HNC or HND or FD? If you’re FD I’d recommend asking if you can drop down to HNC or D, some people do this if they struggle with the FD which is quite a lot more in depth on academics.

    Secondly, have they split you into ability groups? If so, can you drop to a lower ability group which will have more support and move through topics slower? My cohort did a maths tests at the start and was split into three classes so we could be surrounded by similar level of talent, the lower group got a lot more lecturing from maths teachers to get them to the same level.

    I’d suggest trying to talk to another college staff member if possible, potentially your most friendly lecturer or something like that. The college will have things in place to help you but won’t know you need it unless you say it to someone who listens properly, better this way than starting to fail or do poorly on exams as that’s then an extra pressure and confidence loss for you. You could maybe try your training officer after that if nobody seems to be helping, they’d definitely be concerned if the college wasn’t offering the correct support.

    I’d recommend Khan Academy for maths help, it is free lessons on everything from counting all the way up to university level calculus - it’s highly rated and many cadets I know used it to help them. I believe it also contains electrics and science stuff nowadays.

    A great YouTube channel for the basics of electrics is Engineering Mindset, check out his videos on things like voltage, current etc to try and help you.

    Fellow cadets can also be great help, so don’t be afraid to ask any gifted cadets if they’d mind helping you or sitting next to you to assist.

    Phase 1 isn’t overly important so you’ll definitely pass this phase and it’ll give you tonnes of time at sea to brush up on the basics of maths etc before you return for phase 3.

    You’re not going to get sacked for this, don’t worry - many, many have struggled before and many, many went on to pass. Like many things in life the cadetship is as hard as it gets academics wise, the moment you qualify or even go to sea as a cadet it is much easier on the brain. Once you’ve finished your cadetship you’ll sigh in relief that that’s the last time you may ever need to use maths.

    Hopefully you’re worrying over nothing and will skip through without issue, but trust me when I say everyone feels like sh*t on at least one topic (likely more) during their cadetship. I went on just fine in becoming an engineer, but I felt awful and useless at anything workshop related and it worried me a lot at college. A good proportion of my cohort were the opposite in that they were amazing in the workshops but struggling with maths.


    • #3
      Feeling overwhelmed at what you don't know is pretty much life at sea in general. It doesn't stop when you qualify either. Welcome to the maritime industry!

      The lecturers have pretty much seen it all. If they are saying to relax a bit, then I'd try to take onboard that a bit. If you are panicking, you won't learn, so you need to either find a way to reduce that, or to channel that frantic energy into focusing on exactly what segments are troubling you. Once you do that, and pass an exam for the first time, you'll probably still feel the same way next time, but you will have knowledge that you've "done it before and can do it again", despite what you feel. That dynamic lasted the entire cadetship for me really.

      I'd probably hate me saying this to my younger self, as I was exactly like you when I started. An older cadet out of education for a decade in my case. And I have posted about struggling academically before too when I was a cadet. But the best thing is as above, to seek out support from the college, focus on breaking what you don't understand down into smaller bits, check out khan academy and just honestly, believe that you will come out the other end with your CoC.

      I went from knowing absolutely f**k all, and I mean I couldn't remember how to multiply by writing it down on paper, to doing thermodynamic equations that would have given me a heart attack the 6 months previous. I had left school with the lowest mathematical grade you could achieve btw, and I'm not joking. It only took me a couple of months to get up to speed with the course work.

      There's a long and proud shared history of ****ting the pants at the academics from most cadets, so you aren't alone.

      Best of luck!