Every year, around one-third of students (33%) drop out of college. Some of them can’t afford the tuition anymore; others lose their motivation to study and leave college searching for better opportunities.
Is it always a good decision to leave college?
Everybody’s circumstances are different. However, there is a direct link between dropping out and remaining unemployed or underpaid.
So, what should you do if you’ve suddenly (or gradually) become disenchanted and don’t feel motivated to finish your college qualification? Check out the 15 strategies collected by our experts to revive your motivation to study.
😰 What Is Student Burnout?
College studies are challenging and stressful. No matter how excited you are at first, the thrill soon settles down, and you face the need to attend endless lectures and workshops, work at the library for hours, and complete tons of homework.
The mounting workload can cause student burnout – a state of chronic stress resulting in decreased performance, apathy, and a lack of motivation to study. If you’re burnt out, you may grow indifferent to your GPA and experience falling productivity with huge health and academic risks.
Besides failing your assignments, you can grow detached from friends and family, avoid social activities, and may find yourself experiencing serious anxiety, depression, and isolation. Keeping track of your mental health is vital.
8 Typical Burnout Symptoms
Here are some burnout symptoms you should watch out for. Once you notice several of these (or all of them) in your behavior and attitude, it’s time to seek professional help.
8 typical burnout symptoms are:
|Low motivation||A gradual decrease in motivation may be present in all spheres of your life, not just in your studies. You may avoid catching up with friends or other social activities that usually excite you. As for your education, a loss of motivation can be expressed in mediocre writing, absence from lectures, and a lack of concern about your course outcomes.|
|Loss of creativity||You may still be motivated to study but may be unable to produce quality work. You may spend hours procrastinating on small essays, and simple creative tasks may feel torturous.|
|Irritation||Low motivation and a loss of creativity often lead to growing discontent and irritability. You may be frustrated with yourself and your lack of enthusiasm.|
|Fatigue||Burnout is not something you can cure with a good night’s sleep. Once you get to a severe burnout level, you start feeling chronic fatigue no matter how much you sleep or how often you rest. This is an alarming signal as it may trigger a vicious cycle of procrastination and task abandonment in the hope of feeling better tomorrow.|
|Lack of focus||Burnout affects your ability to concentrate and creates a “foggy brain,” making it difficult to complete tasks.|
|Disinterest||You may notice you are losing interest in your favorite hobbies and activities. This is a dangerous sign, as it shows that you’re not only tired of studies but also tired of things that used to help you relax and enjoy life.|
|Low immunity||Burnout often undermines a person’s immune system. You may notice that you’ve started to fall ill easily. You may feel weak, sick, and powerless. This can be the start of a downward spiral into depression that might lead to missed lectures, delayed home tasks, and even dropping out.|
|Anxiety and depression||If early symptoms go unrecognized, chronic anxiety and depression can set in. You may lose connections with people, abandon your favorite pastimes, and get into a deadlock of worry and frustration.|
💡 15 Strategies to Find Study Motivation
Here are our 15 top strategies to battle burnout and bring motivation back into your life.
1. Be Honest with Yourself
The first step is to acknowledge the problem. It’s often hard to be honest with yourself. However, it is impossible to change a situation if you’re not true to yourself and don’t understand what’s going on.
Assess your current state by sitting down, focusing on the past few weeks, and noting any alarming signs in your behavior, attitude, or activities. If you identify several of the issues we’ve discussed above, it is likely you’re heading toward burnout or are already in that state. It’s time to take action!
2. Think about Your Purpose
A recent study by a team from the University of Missouri found that it’s vital to orient yourself towards something that will add value, purpose, and meaning to your life. Assess your values, think about how the new profession you are studying will give you purpose, and how you will contribute to other people’s lives and well-being. These intellectual exercises often help students regain confidence and peace of mind, returning to the study process with newfound enthusiasm.
Here are a couple of handy practical tips:
- Don’t focus on the technical part of studying (lectures, essays, reports) and look further ahead by thinking about what this area of knowledge offers you and what doors it will open upon graduation.
- Try to find something new and exciting within your area of study. Look beyond the curriculum and dig deeper to become an expert in your niche.
- Remember the money. Though the financial side of your profession may not always be the best motivation, it’s still worth considering. Many people are able to overcome burnout by focusing on how much they will earn after graduation. A rich life and a well-paid job warm their heart.
3. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Setting concrete, measurable goals is the best way to transform your life’s meaning into workable steps. A great tool for doing this in practice is the SMART algorithm.
SMART goals are:
Formulating SMART goals gives you a clear sense of direction and a roadmap to achieve them. Here are a couple of examples:
To increase my GPA by 0.5 points within 2 months by completing all essays on time and retaking all assignments with low grades.
To raise my Geography grade in 1.5 months by retaking the quiz, submitting 2 essays on time, and finalizing my group project with the team.
A vital part of this process is to anticipate bottlenecks and find ways to resolve those issues. This way, you can avoid frustration and will move toward your goal even if difficulties arise.
4. Know Your Study Style
Students are all different, and they tackle tasks in ways suited specifically to them. You may be an owl or a lark, a visual, audial, or kinesthetic learner. Choosing an appropriate study schedule is a priority, as it will simplify your progress and offer tangible results.
First, analyze your circadian rhythms. When are you more productive and focused? Are you an early bird or a late-night learner? Reserve routine tasks like shopping or cleaning your room for hours when you’re intellectually inactive, as these activities won’t require much intellectual effort. Schedule study tasks for your peak hours and arrange the entire day around those rhythms to ensure that you complete college assignments quickly and without hassle.
The same goes for your learning style:
- If you’re a visual learner, take copious notes, place them on sticky notes, and study with visual and printed materials.
- If you’re an audial learner, record the lectures and listen to them whenever you have a free minute.
Organizing your studies this way will ensure maximum results without sleepless nights or stress.
5. Make a Schedule & Stick to It
Long-term planning is also a secret to success and motivation. You can study much more effectively if you schedule all tasks for the week, month, and semester early and stick to the schedule. This arrangement structures your study process and helps you avoid emergencies or overloads toward the end of the course.
6. Limit Your Sessions
It is difficult to maintain study motivation if you know you’ll have to sit with your books all day. Limit your study sessions and break down the process into manageable chunks.
Suppose you need to complete an essay and need around 3 hours for this task. You can have small study sessions of 30 minutes and give yourself 5 to 10-minute breaks in between. You won’t lose that much time resting and will avoid feelings of exhaustion.
7. Start with the Easiest Task
Though productivity gurus recommend tackling the hardest and most unpleasant task initially, we recommend breaking this rule. You need stimulus for a good productive working day. Do something small and enjoyable, praise yourself for the outcome, and you’ll see your mood improve.
8. Beat Procrastination
It’s pretty hard to keep focused and productive during self-paced learning.
Here are some working tips from productivity experts that will help you find the work-life balance without drama.
|Don’t multitask||Wise people say that multitasking is like doing many things badly simultaneously, while monotasking is a more effective approach to completing all pending tasks one by one.|
|Manage distractions||Ideally, you want to remove all distractions. However, many people are too addicted to technology and can’t manage a couple of hours offline. You can restructure your relationship with social media by rewarding yourself with 10-15 minutes online after completing a study task.|
|Practice mindfulness||Mindfulness techniques are a great way to concentrate on the task at hand. You can use meditative breathing to calm your mind and focus or conduct a mental body scan to release tension.|
9. Don’t Focus on Results While Studying
Perfectionists never do things well, as they are always focused on improvement. You can tackle this issue by focusing on the process instead and enjoying your progress.
10. Reward Yourself
How can you keep yourself motivated to study over a long period? The best way to transform your study style is to design a healthy self-reward structure.
Give yourself a pat on the back once you’ve finished a project. Buy yourself an ice cream, go to the movies, meet with friends for a pizza – do something you enjoy and helps you relax. Such a reward can become a great driver for addressing a new challenge.
11. Think about Your Study Space
Your study space’s organization plays an important role in your productivity. It is impossible to stay motivated to study among the clutter and distractions of a messy work desk.
Find below the tips to organize one’s study space.
- Ensure that your table and chair are comfortable. You’ll spend many hours sitting there, so the furniture should be ergonomic and safe for your spine and posture.
- Organize your supplies. You should have everything at hand instead of hopping around to get a pen or highlighter.
- Buy yourself a good lamp. It will greatly help during long study hours and save your eyesight.
- Get rid of all devices you don’t need while you study. This includes your smartphone and tablet. You’re sure to need your laptop but use it for study-related tasks, not watching YouTube.
12. Change Locations
Working in one room can feel boring, especially if you have a lot of work to do. If your motivation is dwindling, try moving to a local coffee shop or park. A breath of fresh air and a different environment can be powerful motivation boosters. A New York Times study revealed that changing your study space even has a positive effect on memory retention.
13. Practice Digital Detox
Excessive reliance on technology is ruinous for your health and well-being. You can’t study all the time, and healthy study practice includes taking a break to relieve your mind from tension. Consider combining that break or vacation with a digital detox – the practice of ousting all devices from your daily routine.
14. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
You are you, and your study progress is a unique process. There’s no sense in comparing yourself to others and finding pitfalls. You may feel frustrated because all your friends got A’s, and you received a C, but these are only grades. It is you alone who determines your fate. Staying authentic and following your life values is the best way to succeed.
15. Talk to People
It is challenging to overcome burnout alone. It’s important to reach out to other people and explain your challenges. You can talk to your professor if you find a task too hard and need clarification. Or you can discuss the assignment or lifestyle changes with those who have also faced burnout. You can also seek your college counselor’s assistance if the pressure becomes too much.
🎁 Bonus: 2 Tips to Stay Focused in a Boring Class
Now that we’ve covered motivation in depth let’s cover bonus tips for staying productive during a boring lecture or a tedious class.
- Think of something pleasant you can do after the class. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee at a local café or a meeting with a friend. Focus on those pleasant experiences, and your mood will improve. Hopefully, that energy will be enough to stay in a boring lecture without falling asleep.
- Link studies to practice. Even if your class feels like a complete failure, you can find something valuable for your life skills. Let’s say it’s math – something you hate. Remind yourself that learning these new formulas can help you calculate a loan for your future home.
Finding motivation for your studies can be challenging, especially if you are assigned a boring task or meet numerous challenges during your studies. However, by keeping your focus on the goal – your diploma – you can seek out the sparkly bits, and you’re sure to find your eagerness to learn to improve over time. Hopefully, this was valuable and if you know anyone who has problems with motivation, send them this article.