Motivating Yourself to Study   back

The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
124 Osband

After the excitement and anticipation of entering college have passed and the semester is well underway, have you found yourself less and less motivated to study, or even to attend class? Although you have more or less settled down and adjusted to living away from home, making new friends, and being on your own, are you finding that the academic area just doesnít seem to hold your interest? If this is true, perhaps you need to explore your motivation in attending college. This is often a complicated matter and requires your honest assessment of yourself and of your feelings. The following suggestions are initial steps in examining your own academic motivations.

1. First and most importantly, ask yourself why are you in college. There are probably several reasons, the most important of which should be to get an education and to expand your mind by learning. In doing so, you look forward to increasing your value in the job market, but your immediate goal as a student is to learn as much as possible during your college years. Some reasons which people often place at the top of the list, but which are usually poor reasons are:
  1. Your parents wanted you to come.

  2. All your friends came to college.
  3. You want to postpone getting a job.
  4. You want to have fun.
  5. You want to get a start as an athlete.
  6. You want to look for a spouse.
  7. You didnít know what else to do.
2. Begin the process of making a career decision as soon as possible. It isnít necessary that you make a specific decision right away, but having a career direction will increase your motivation. Others (including parents) may be able to offer helpful advice, but the final choice for a career should be yours.

3. When exploring career options, be REALISTIC. You should consider your abilities, values, and interests in evaluating career options. The fact that your great uncle (or your roommateís brother) chose medicine or law as a career doesnít necessarily mean that should be your choice.

4. When you have decided on a career direction, you are then able more appropriately to choose a major. The course you attempt will begin to become more relevant, and youíll be more motivated to study.

5. Examine your attitudes about college and yourself. If you positively approach your studies, your professors, your books, your fellow students, and yourself, you increase your academic motivation. A negative attitude produces negative results in performance. Beware of unexplored anger which can interfere with learning. Unresolved anger and unrealistic expectations of others only lead to frustration and disappointment. Remember, you are in charge of only one person and not of everyone you have contact with or of every situation you face. Donít waste your energy on negative attitudes toward persons or situations you canít control.

6. Become actively involved in the learning process. Participate in your class; be over-prepared (rather than under-prepared) for class discussions and exams. Donít expect the professor to teach you everything. Instead make it a point to learn by additional self-directed study. As you become more involved, you tend to learn more.

7. Remember that college is not high school. If you follow the same old patterns, you may be a loser! In college you are responsible for yourself, your courses, your study hours, your social behavior, managing your time, setting limits, managing your money, and sustaining mental and physical health. Are you mature enough to handle all of this? Everyone isnít; so, donít feel you are a failure if you experience problems. The important thing is to recognize the problem and seek help! There are many people on campus who can help if you will look for them.

8. Make time for recreation. It is important to spend time away from studies in activities which are relaxing. Recreation and relaxation allow you to be more productive all around.

9. Set some goals. If you clearly state what you want to accomplish and how you can accomplish it, you are much more motivated and more likely to succeed. Write these goals down on paper along with concrete steps for reaching them. Then occasionally review these goals to see what success you are having.

10. Dwell on your successes and not your failures. Where is it written that you are not allowed to fail or miss the mark on occasion? Be kind to yourself and be proud of your strong points. Try to understand why you do not do other things well. Perfection is an uncomfortable companion or goal.

11. Never lose sight of the fact that you are responsible for your life and what you do with it. Problems arise when you feel like a slave. Remember, it should be your choice to be doing what you are doing. Ultimately, you are in control even when others ask or seemingly demand something of you.

12. Be flexible and adaptable. Be open to new experiences and receptive to new ways of looking at things. This allows growth and new learning.

13. Maintain a calendar or schedule. By so doing you will be aware of and better prepared for assignments and activities and can allot and schedule additional study time when needed. Keep a calendar so youíll know when you should be more motivated.

14. Donít expect to be motivated 100% of the time. We all have our ups and downs. Try to be aware of too many "downs," find out why, and do something about them.

The suggestions offered here are only a beginning for self-examination. Motivation is a complicated matter. These suggestions may be enough to help you become aware of what is affecting your motivationóor lack of itóbut if youíd like further exploration, give us a call at 348-5175 or visit the Center for Academic Success, 124 Osband Hall.