Unfortunately, I'm finding the transition painful. My father overuses the phrase 'paradigm shift' to the point of criminality, but in this case it really is applicable. Every math class and lesson I've had prior to college has been problem oriented, where I would learn to solve up to 20-30 types of problems and practice until I'd achieved a roughly 90% accuracy for fast solutions. Since coming to UCI, however, the classes are focused on the tools of math, the theorems, to the point of alarm for me.
To put it simply, I'm lost. I've been trained to pick out problems and their solutions, and now I need to learn to pick out tools and how to use them. And this is just in class. Now, instead of simply grinding math problems, the only way to study math before university, I have to think about the limitations of different theorems and definitions and what kinds of problems they would apply to. I see myself using a lot of index cards in the future to make a database of math tools to study and learn. Expect to see me carry them with me at all times, like my science pen.
Learning to learn is always the first step to becoming truly educated. Sadly, I've learned to learn in a way that isn't optimum for my environment. I think the situation is comparable to adult illiteracy. Learning to navigate life without reading is hard, but then actually learning to read is a shock, and difficult.
The only positive in this whole mess is that now I've identified exactly why my GPA is hovering below a 3.0, and not the 4.0 I'd expected. This isn't going to stop me from making excuses to my parents, of course. My grades aren't going to improve overnight, and probably not until late summer or fall at the earliest. Then I should see a bountiful harvest of A's that is actually worth writing home about. Also to be found at http://captaincooley.wordpress.com/