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Tips for Staying Motivated in College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Elizabethtown chapter.



Honestly, I have been lacking in the motivation department lately, but I am ready to turn things around. These are some tips that I have found helpful when trying to get/stay motivated in college. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration and use in these suggestions!


1. Breaks

Now this one may seem obvious, but trust me, it really works. I know that you all have deadlines and papers and projects, but taking breaks in between can be very helpful. I feel like it’s unrealistic for college students to be completely focused on homework or studying for hours and, honestly, it’s kind of unhealthy. Taking a ten-twenty minute break in between assignments can improve productivity and your mindset. Without breaks, you’ll just be wondering when it will be over and that leads to procrastination. Having set times to work (30-45mins) and set times for a break (10mins) will hopefully help a wandering mind. This can also help combat procrastination, which ultimately helps in you not rushing to get something done or working on the same project for 5 hours straight. Some things to do during your breaks could be watching a YouTube video, eating a healthy snack to help you keep your focus, or listening to your favorite music to boost serotonin levels, helping to improve learning, memory and overall happiness.

2. Study Habits

Studying can be super stressful, especially with that big exam coming up. But, hopefully, some of these tips can keep you motivated and feel less stressed. Correlating with the previous tip, breaking up your studying into more manageable increments can really help. Spending 30 minutes a day studying over the course of a week is a lot more effective than cramming the night before. It also allows for a better night’s sleep before the test. Changing your surroundings and eliminating distractions are also good ideas. Changing your atmosphere can really help in separating work from relaxation. Studying in a library or coffee shop gets you out of your dorm and gives new perspectives. Studying in your bed can trick your brain and it can be harder to get a good night’s sleep as your brain will associate the bed with work, not rest. Make sure that distractions such as your phone or the Internet are saved for breaks, not during your designated study time. Pure instrumental music can also enhance your memory if you listen to the same song before the exam. Getting creative with your supplies can also be a big help. I like to color-code my classes, using the corresponding color when highlighting notes. Make sure not to go overboard, though. The content is what’s most important.

3. Mindset

Having a positive mindset is key to feeling motivated. Negativity and self-doubt can lead to procrastination. Part of this mindset is being thankful for the ability to get an education and pursuing your interests when that is a dream for many other people. Though, on the flip side of that coin, realize that you have worked hard and deserve this opportunity to gain knowledge and better yourself. Embrace the challenges and obstacles put in front of you as opportunities for growth, improvement, and evolution. A method I use is picturing a long term goal, it can be big or small. Then, I choose to see small assignments or studying as little steps used to reach that end goal. That way, no assignment feels useless or pointless, they are all getting you closer to achieving that end result. Also, your friends can be really great motivating resources. Getting motivation is wonderful, but if you motivate your friends, hopefully, that will motivate you in turn.

4. Visualization 

I think that visualizing what you want can be a great way to keep your goals in your mind. If you think about something enough, it has more chance of coming true. I’m not saying that what you want will come to you magically, but if it’s on your mind, then you will constantly be thinking of ways to achieve that goal and you will be more likely to implement the changes necessary. One tool I love to use is Pinterest. I know it may sound silly, but making a vision board right on your phone of things you want to achieve is so helpful. You can do this for the school year, the calendar year, or even month to month. I love writing down a list of small and large goals that I’m working towards, then choosing pictures from Pinterest that match that idea. Visualizing and seeing what you want can make it more real and more possible if you are feeling some doubt. I think that seeing it in a picture can make you want it more than simply writing it down. For example, if you’re having a hard time finding the motivation to study or do homework, looking at aesthetically pleasing study photos on Pinterest can get you in the mood to crack some book spines. Here’s a link to my school inspiration Pinterest board. 

5. Mental Health 

The last thing I’d like everyone to keep in mind that a balance between your mental health and education is paramount. Having a calm and healthy mind actually helps in focusing on schoolwork and remembering the knowledge you are taught in the long run and not just for a test. It’s also extremely important to note that your self-worth is not based on a test score or how well you do in class. School is important, but you are worth so much more than a grade.

Lauren Robitaille

Elizabethtown '22

Hi! I'm a junior at Elizabethtown College. I'm majoring in English and minoring in both Women & Gender Studies and Creative Writing. I enjoy reading, drinking excessive amounts of coffee and binging tv show like nobody's business!