This topic deserves a better presentation than I'm about to offer, but I'm too distracted by nothing, I don't have the level of concentration - on demand - I used to, and (hopefully not really,) I've gotten too dumb.
Generally speaking, elementary school and junior high - "grade school," we always called it, as I went to the same school K-8 - was a breeze for me. I got A's and B's. I took a dive in the 4th grade, but grown up me can attribute that more to outside factors at the time. That was the year my parents divorced, which was one of your typical messy situations.
High school was a little more challenging. I always excel in English. Math is a bit more challenging, but I have an aptitude for Math, and usually succeed. I've never had the best memory for historical facts, but I was studious enough to ace my history classes - memorizing for the short term. Government was sticky. That was a toughy for me. But, I took AP, so my grade was weighted. I think I ended up getting about a C in the class, which was worth an extra point to my average due to the weighted grade. I took AP because all my friends did. My friends were smart, and I knew I'd do better by their influence. My work paid off. My grade point average and my ACT score earned me a partial scholarship to college. I went to the University of Detroit Mercy.
College was very similar. Most of my classes, in hindsight, seem like a breeze. One semester I took 18 credits. I did well. Another semester, I started out with 16 credits, then dropped Calc III to go down to the minimum for full time 12 credits. I took the night time Calc III class, and at that point, I was more interested in going out with my best friend and partner in crime than attending class, so I cut my losses. That's just one example. I started college out in the Electrical Engineering program. I made a whole new group of friends my freshman year, and enjoyed hanging out with them between class. It was the most traditional "college experience" I had all four years. We kind of went separate ways after that year. First or second semester of my sophomore year, I had an 8:30 electronics class of some sort. Two weeks in, I decided EE was not for me, and transferred my major to Mathematics. I couldn't stay awake in the 8:30 electronics class, and couldn't see continuing down this path. Ultimately, I made a few friends in my classes and befriended the other 3-4 people in the math program that were in all my classes with me. One gal and I bonded over our shared tendancy to paint our fingernails before a test. It was a distraction from studying.
I used to stay up all night studying, with nap breaks. I recall holding my notes and walking around my bedroom reviewing and learning them. Walking around to keep alert. I remember having books spread out over my bed at midnight, and I would get frustrated, and lay down right on top of them and take a nap. I did well in some classes. I did mediocre in others. A few, I was happy to pass with a C- (see Biochemistry). I was always what I thought of as "not doing as well as I could, but doing well enough." A B+/A- sort of mentality. I could study at level x and get straight A's, or I could could study at level (2/3)x or (1/2)x and get B+'s or A-'s. I found the balance that worked for me. I had friends who strived to achieve straight A's. One in particular - a good friend who attended the same grade school, high school, and college as me. I ultimately graduated from college with honors - Magna, but not Summa.
I got a full time job just about out of college. It was not in my field, per se, but it was a good opportunity. It's safe to say that in the 8 years since college, I've stuck with numbers, but nothing close to utilizing the knowledge I supposedly acquired, at least became familiar with, in school.
I waited a couple of years, and then I took some graduate level classes - one at at time, at Wayne State University. The first was very hard. It was Advanced Calculus. The class was very hard. Is graduate study that much more difficult than undergrad? Or have I changed so much? I made a study buddy in the class, and he's probably the reason I survived. We both took Probability the next year, but he had to drop after a couple class periods for family reasons. The class was nowhere near as hard as Advanced Calc, but I got out with like a B or a C. And the information never really set in my head. I have, or had, an aptitude for math. But Probability didn't click. Or, it didn't click at age 25...?
I've since registered for two different grad classes at WSU, and I've dropped each of them. I've taken some classes at the community college level, just to refresh. They're so simple to me that it's a joke. As my grandma says, "you learn something in every class you take," and she's right. I don't regret taking them, but I could have studied independently probably just as effectively ... if I have/had it in me to do so.
What this all amounts to is that I have more and more moments these days where I wonder what happened to the girl who graduated UDM with honors. I find more and more examples where I overlook the obvious, or retrace steps I forgot I've already taken - especially at work. When did I turn into this bubblehead? Even if I've always been a little flakey, why don't I seem to be able to retain anything anymore? And why can't I get myself to buckle down? Or want to try to? Do we really get book stupider with age? Does the mind put a block on learning new things?