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Help! (University/Future)

Hi guys,
I've been studying online for a good year now and haven't had a worry about it since I've started & have been getting consistent good grades since day one. I submitted an assessment two weeks ago and on Monday this week received an email in regards to a "suspected plagiarism incident". I know 100% that everything I cited from other resources I have referenced. I got reassurance that I am not going to fail but I feel as though I have failed myself by getting this email. I don't know what to do or think and feel that this incident has left me doubting myself.

I regularly get panic attacks in relation to my future, and my future career and feel as though I'm going through a quarter life crisis, regretting everything. My parents have told me that they have spent years studying something that they didn't pursue but I am putting so much hard work into it and feel as though I don't want to regret this. I have controlled my thoughts so well lately but this email has triggered off my thoughts and worries again. I don't know what to do! I hate living with a constant fear of failure and no happiness

Re: Help! (University/Future)

hi @cjkb


In regards to plagarism, the technical criteria to meet plagarism is quite precise- you may not have put something in your own words, or you may have forgotten to reference something. There are many times when I struggle to change words without a sentence loosing its meaning so for many times not much is changed and it is fine.


Additionally, they have plagarism programs now, which sometimes picks up plagarism, where it does not exist. If you have no blatently copied large amount of texts I wouldnt stress it will be fine.


Is it possible that you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself at the moment? Sometimes pressure is good as it motivates us in a competitive university environment, however, its important to get a balance also.


In terms of fearing failure and no happiness- this is just my personal opinion from a fellow university study: I believe, you really have to just do what interests you and what your passionate about. People will pressure you to do this and that, but at the end of the day its your choice, your journey and your life, I think what will make you successful is a passion. Thats just my perspective, and it works for me. I love what I do and its the passion that is giving me opportunities, not my natural talent.


Re: Help! (University/Future)

Hey @cjkb - congrats on your study and that you have been doing so well. Really glad that you found us and were able to talk to us about what's been happening since you got the email from your uni, because it sounds like you have been really panicking and fearing the worst. It does sound like you are aware that your thoughts and fear are beyond the appropriate level for the situation which is causing you more stress.


Sounds like your mind goes to 'worst case scenario' and some people call this catastrophising. That basically involves imagining and dwelling on the worst possible outcome: letting your thoughts run away to dire and highly unlikely scenarios.  The good news is there is lots you can do to train your brain to not follow the chain of terrible events that lead to the worse case scenario, by building your resilience, coping skills and strategies for dealing with stress.


It great that you recognise that you are worrying about the worst possible (and unlikely) outcome - now you've got to short-circuit the catastrophe chain. The breakdown in logical thinking occurs because you feel that each link in the chain will definitely lead to the next. So you need to take a step back and look at what might reasonably, actually occur. To do this, write down each step in your chain of catastrophic thoughts and challenge the plausibility of these events really happening. 


We’re prone to catastrophizing when we feel like we don’t have control over what’s going to happen to us. So another key to battling catastrophic thoughts is generating a list of things you can do to stop the next link in the chain from happening. You might feel more calm and confident when you have a plan in place, any kind of plan at all.


Then there are two apps that we made that I think might help - plus it could be a good idea to chat your situation through with a counsellor at eHeadspace (you can webchat or call or email) - it sounds like you are feeling pretty anxious and it's affecting your day-to-day life. You can get help for that, from the comfort of your bedroom!


Try WorryTime for a start. You can’t control the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can control what you do with them. The WorryTime app allows you to control everyday stress and anxiety by acting as a place to take control of your worries and deal with them in a way that works for you.


Then there is Breathe to help you reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety by slowing down your heart rate with your mobile phone.


Online Community Manager

Re: Help! (University/Future)

Thanks @Troy - I sent an email apologizing (I havent got my results back yet) and my teacher told me to have a good read of the comments she has left for me. I am so nervous!

I do love what I am studying but just have a constant fear of failure and letting people down around me

I do have a lot going on at the moment, study part time, work full time, getting married in two years - so I am currently trying to work on a routine to ensure I am making some time for myself!

Re: Help! (University/Future)

Thank you @Sophie-RO - I have those two app's and love them, I think I will add this worry to the app - I am starting counselling on the 31st of this month for ten weeks, I hope that helps as well. I am always on here reading up about how to help my thoughts.
Thank you!

Re: Help! (University/Future)

Hi @cjkb


Congrats on doing so well and getting consistently good grades! I know it can feel like a shock when something like this happens, but I think it's something that happens to many students, at least once in their studying time. In my first year of uni. I was once called in to speak to someone regarding plagiarism on one of my assignments. It turned out to be completely fine, and the person I met with was mindful of the fact that I was still a first year student learning the processes. He also appreciated that I actually cared and was concerned about it. 


As for the situation with your parents - it is true that plenty of people study things that they don't end up pursuing directly, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing! For example, you could start studying one certain thing and through that discover that you're really passionate about something else, that is totally okay! I transferred between two courses before I found something I really enjoyed. It does sound like you really do love what you're doing so the chances are you won't be in that position, but it's good to keep in mind that there are alternative pathways. 


I'm glad you found the worry app helpful. If you do keep experiencing the panic attacks and find that your anxiety doesn't improve, keep in mind that you can always see a GP to get some advice. They can also refer you to a psychologist where you can get further support. 


Hope you're doing well, feel free to keep us updated!

Re: Help! (University/Future)

Hello, @Troy, Sophie-RO (someone help me tag her) and @benjamin_
I just thought I would let you all know that I ended up getting a Distinction! My teacher just gave me some advice on paraphrasing said that everything else was perfect - phew! I can take that off my worry list ;-).
Two weeks ago I visited a GP who made me do a couple of tests and said that I have severe anxiety and depression - starting on the 31st of Aug I will be seeing a phychologist. I'm actually looking forward to it.
Thanks for all your help everyone!


Re: Help! (University/Future)

Phew, that is a big relief on the assignment front @cjkb. Now the next time you start worrying about something, you can remember how this situation worked out just fine and use it as a calming thought Smiley Happy


Well done on being proactive about your wellbeing and seeing a GP! Often getting a diagnosis can be really helpful. It finally has a name, and you can start working towards management. Let us know how your psychologist appointment goes!

Re: Help! (University/Future)

Hey @cjkb, just wanted to congrtulate you on you Distinction! Nice work!


And it's awesome you went to speak with a GP about how you've been feeling and that you've scheduled in an appointment with a psychologist this month. That first step can sometimes be the hardest and I'm so happy that you had the courage to take it!


Re: Help! (University/Future)

@cjkb congratulations on that distinction!!! that's amazing news.