Tips for Staying Motivated Ahead of College
How to Stay Motivated in High School
1. Prioritize Assignments
The key to success in school is staying focused on your coursework. Make a list to get an overall picture of your workload before you start to tackle any of it. Then, make a plan.
It's best to prioritize your more challenging and time-consuming assignments. Although it’s tempting to work on the simplest tasks first, you'll be able to manage your schedule better if you start with the ones that take more time and effort to accomplish.
To determine what your priorities are, rank your assignments in order of importance. Then, rearrange your time and devote more energy toward those assignments that have the greatest impact on your overall coursework and your grades. For more involved projects, you'll need to plot out work time over several weeks.
For example, even though all homework assignments are important, studying for a midterm exam takes priority over writing a paragraph for English class. As you complete each task, think of it as another step on your way to success in college.
However, don't let a task fall through the cracks just because it seems "less important." Remember that all assignments must be completed regardless of the impact on your grades.
By tackling your more difficult and time-consuming studies first, you’ll find yourself feeling more motivated to complete the easier assignments that lie ahead. Think of it as descending from the peak of a mountain rather than struggling to scale one.
2. Set Attainable Goals in Smaller Chunks
If you're having trouble writing a 25-page paper for class because it seems like such a big task, stop focusing on that final page count. Break the paper down into its subsections, and focus on each one individually.
It’s much easier to stay motivated and stop procrastinating by setting goals in smaller, more attainable chunks. It’s also a lot easier on your mental health.
3. Create New Challenges
Changing your approach can help you stay interested in what you’re doing. Some high school assignments tend to feel formulaic after a while, and you may end up feeling like you’re just going through the motions. This can cause you to feel demotivated and drained. Change things up to challenge yourself.
For example, if last semester you wrote a narrative piece in your creative writing class, maybe try writing a poem this time. If you wrote a book report on a biography last time around, try picking another subject you haven’t tackled, such as history.
If your eyes are hurting from staring at your math textbook all night, go online and try to find videos from lively instructors who take another approach to solving math problems.
4. Find a Social Support Network
You are surrounded by people who want to see you succeed, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Mentors can be teachers, family friends, or even your school counselors. They are there to help you reach your goals and can help you create a study plan that works for you.
Try reaching out to your friends and peers in school as well, and see if you can all bring together a focused study group. Sometimes, it can even be healthy to vent your frustrations to others as a way of clearing your head.
5. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Praising yourself for the things you’ve accomplished is a great way to spark motivation. Give yourself a quick reward when you complete an assignment or task. Perhaps you can turn your phone off and only turn it back on once you’ve completed your work. Or reward yourself by taking a walk or getting a snack—whatever works for you. Then move on to the next project.
How can I make studying fun?
There are many ways to make studying fun. For one, you can reward yourself every time you attain a study goal. Did you memorize all of your biology notecards? Time for a slice of pizza. Did you finally hammer down that complicated math equation? Call your friend to talk about it and celebrate.
Probably the most fun way to study is by forming a study group with your friends and classmates. You can bounce ideas off each other and help each other better understand concepts. But be warned: This can be a double-edged sword. If your group doesn’t create a focused and concrete plan for the study session beforehand, you may end up procrastinating more than studying.
How can I stay motivated to complete homework?
Break down your study goals into smaller, more attainable chunks. Instead of panicking over the final page count for a long essay, take on each subtopic in the essay individually, and overcome them one by one.
Another way to stay motivated to complete your homework is to tie a carrot to the end of the stick, so to speak. For example, you can tell yourself, “Once I finish this assignment, and only when I’ve finished this assignment, I can hang out with my friends or play video games.”
Of course, you can also motivate yourself to complete your homework by thinking about how your accomplishment will positively benefit your future. You can think along the lines of, “If I stop procrastinating on this homework assignment and finish it now, I’ll get a better grade in class. If I get a better grade in class, my overall GPA will be higher, and I will look better on my college applications!”
Why do students lose interest in high school?
Students tend to lose interest and motivation in high school for many reasons, including feeling that they're not in a supportive environment, feeling that they’re just going through the motions, or simply feeling burnt out from everything they're doing in their busy lives.
The best way to combat all these negative emotions is to re-spark your love of learning and your motivation to do well. Refer to our five tips for staying motivated in high school when you need help fighting back against discouraging feelings.