How to Stay Motivated in College: 15 Student Motivation Tips

If you are struggling to stay motivated in college don’t worry, you’re not alone.

College is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s 4+ years of blood, sweat, and tears over homework assignments, tests that you studied for at the last minute, and countless Starbucks runs for that caffeine kick midday.

But just like every marathon, there comes a point where you hit a mental wall and you lose the motivation to keep going.

I for sure do not want you to give up on your college education. In today’s blog post we are discussing 15 motivation tips for college students. These actionable tips will help you motivate yourself to study and stay motivated in college.

how to stay motivated in college when you lack zero motivation

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Why do you lose motivation in college?

For many college students, it is easy to get a false idea of what college life will be like.

Whether it be from TV shows, movies, or girls on Instagram showing off how much fun it is to go to college football games and attend events on campus, college life is glamorized.

In reality, college is hard, there’s no doubt about it.

From taking a full load of credit hours, trying to stay afloat financially, getting involved on campus, and still having time to eat, shower, and sleep–college is far from what you see on social media.

Also, at the beginning of a new semester, there’s a huge wave of motivation to study for 8 hours a day, attend all of your classes, and be super active on campus.

But just like your New Years’ resolutions, as soon as the first week is over and reality hits, you may find your motivation going downhill.

There are many reasons why you may find yourself losing motivation in college:

  • Your classes are not as interesting or engaging as the course description stated. Talk about false advertising.
  • Your classes are too hard and instead of tackling them head-on, you’re avoiding them.
  • Your priorities are not aligned with what it takes to be successful in college.
  • You have other things outside of college that are preventing you from focusing on your education (e.g., medical problems, family problems, financial issues, etc.)
  • You lack a support system, like friends, family, and classmates, who can help you stay motivated in college.
  • You choose the wrong college major or minor.
  • Your class modality changed from being in-person to online and you lack the structure needed to stay motivated in online college.

If you are currently feeling unmotivated in college, know that you aren’t alone. Many college students struggle throughout the semester with motivation.

However, it’s the students who are able to come out of a rut who will find the most success. In the next section, we will talk about 15 motivation tips for college students.

motivational tips for college students who lack motivation
tips to help motivate you to study in college

15 tips to help you stay motivated in college

According to EducationData.org, 40% of students drop out of college and approximately 30% of college freshmen drop out of college.

There are many reasons for a student to drop out of college and remaining motivated can play a key role in deciding whether or not to continue your college education.

If you are currently lacking the motivation to do your college studies these 15 motivation tips for college students will hopefully be exactly what you need to reignite the fire in your college journey.

1. Think about your original intention to attend college

Think back to your pre-college self. What did he or she initially set out to do when it came to applying to college?

Did they want to go to college to:

  • Get a higher paying job after graduating?
  • Go on to pursue a master’s degree, Ph.D., M.D., become a lawyer, a veterinarian, dentist, etc?
  • Meet and interact with new people from different cultures?
  • Utilize college as a way to travel and or study abroad?

Whatever the initial reason for going to college, it meant something to the younger version of you. At that time in your life, you were ambitious and excited to go to college no matter what the price or the challenges it would bring.

Use the goals and dreams your younger self had to motivate yourself to study and to continue on your college journey. Think about if you dropped out of college now due to the lack of motivation–would your younger self be proud?

If the answer no, keep on going. College is hard, but again it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Visualize the end goal

Playing off of the first motivation tip, now think of the end goal now that you are in the midst of college life.

How have your goals or intentions to attend college changed since you entered college? What is your ultimate goal, short and long-term, once you graduate college with that hard-earned degree?

Picture yourself walking across the stage at graduation with your friends and family cheering you on, getting your first job out of college and becoming financially independent, or you having the security to buy a house and or start a family.

Whatever your end goal is, I want you to visualize it and really hone in on every little detail. How does achieving this end goal make you feel? Hopefully you feel proud of yourself and accomplished!

You gotta continue on with your studies in college if you want to achieve that end goal. I know you can do it.

You can also hang up trendy, motivational digital prints like this one or this one to help motivate you and send all the good study vibes your way.

3. Practice gratitude

Perhaps one of the reasons why you are not motivated for college is because you are taking it for granted.

It can be easy to take college for granted when it is just something that you assume is part of growing up and entering adulthood. It’s like a rite of passage.

However, stop for a moment and think about how enormous of an opportunity it is for you to be in college and to be able to safely explore new ideas and concepts.

Take 5 minutes, now or after reading this blog post, to jot down 5 reasons you are grateful to be in college.

Your reasons do not have to be anything spectacular or unique, but while doing this exercise, really focus on what you are writing and reflect as you go.

You can even start to practice daily gratitude with a journal, like the Five-Minute Journal, to practice gratitude not only towards your college education but also your life in general.

Practicing gratitude towards your college education can help you develop a deeper connection with your goals, intentions, and course work. When you practice gratitude, you may start seeing college as more than just a place to go to class, go home, and study for 4+ years.

Instead, college is a gateway to many connections, opportunities, and challenges to make you a better learner, more well-rounded in your thoughts and ideas, and capable of handling anything life throws at you afterward.

4. Attend and engage in class lectures

As horrifying as this next motivation tip sounds, hear me out.

To truly be engaged with your college education and to make it worth your time and money, you need to be attending your class lectures whether they are in-person or online.

Actually attending your class lectures and engaging with your classmates and professors can really boost your motivation in college.

When you disconnect yourself from the college classroom by not attending, you disconnect yourself from all the opportunities college can bring.

Particularly with online college courses, you lose that human connection that in-person college classes provide.

So as an online learner, it is even more essential that you log on, attend the online lecture or watch the pre-recorded lectures, and engage in the course materials by actively participating in discussion posts or emailing your professor or classmates if you have a question.

If you attend your lectures, you will not feel so alone in your college studies. Your classmates and your professors for each class automatically become your support system for the semester, so use them to your advantage.

5. Find classmates you can study with

Even with the current state of the world, it is still possible to find a classmate to study with in-person or virtually over Zoom. Finding a quality classmate or classmates you can study with can help keep you accountable and stay motivated in college.

When either one of you is feeling in a rut about college, you can help each other to stay motivated by setting up regular study times or periodically texting or calling each other when you have questions regarding a class assignment.

If you are having a hard time finding someone to study with, try sending out an email to your entire class list just asking if anyone would like to form a study group and provide a good number they can text you at.

You’d be surprised how many of your classmates would love to have a study buddy, but are too afraid to reach out and ask.

Alternatively, you could also schedule weekly or bi-weekly tutoring sessions with an on-campus or off-campus tutor.

Even if the tutoring sessions are virtual, a tutor can help keep you accountable, help you clarify concepts you are iffy about, and teach you skills to help you be more organized and productive while studying.

How to stay motivated in college
how to study in college even when you have no motivation

6. Change up your study space

Just like changing up the layout of your bedroom or adding in decorations, changing up your study space, whether it be aesthetically or location-wise, can be the exact solution you need to stay motivated in college.

However, if you don’t have a designated study spot in your college apartment or dorm, or if you simply like going somewhere else to study try a different coffee shop or library to study at (granted you are able to safely do it).

If your current study space is cluttered with old papers, notebooks, and dead highlighters and pens–go ahead and do a spring cleaning. Throw out old school work, do a little dusting, and get your study space organized.

I personally love having small plastic drawers under my desk to keep all of my college school supplies organized.

I recommend getting this stackable organizer and these acrylic drawer organizers to organize all your college supplies.

I also like having a pencil holder (you can also use a cute mug as a pencil holder) right on top of my desk for my most used and loved writing utensils.

There may also be other study spots around your college campus you have never even seen before, like behind various corners, or behind campus buildings, so take yourself on a field trip and go exploring around campus for these study location hidden gems.

7. Make a study plan and commit to it

At the beginning of the semester, hopefully you created some type of study plan or at least wrote down all of your due dates in your calendar or agenda.

If you did (or even if you didn’t), go ahead and revisit that original study plan. Ask yourself: is this study plan working for me?

If you say “YES,” maybe you’re just having a bad day or week and simply unmotivated for college, that’s ok. It happens. Your study plan is working for you, you just need to take the day off and come back to your schoolwork the next day with fresh eyes.

If you say “NO,” it is time to rewrite your study plan to get you back on track with college.

The key to making a study plan in college is that you make it realistic and maintainable in the long run so that you are able to consistently do your school work, meet deadlines, and feel less overwhelmed by everything.

Your study plan should include:

  • All due dates for your homework and papers for each class
  • Quiz and test dates for each class
  • What you plan on doing each day for each class to complete assignments or prepare for an upcoming quiz or test.

Here is a general rule of thumb of how many days I allow myself to complete my homework assignments, study for quizzes or tests, and complete major projects or papers:

  • 2 days to complete a homework assignment
  • 3 days to study for a quiz
  • 7 days to study for a test
  • 1 month for a paper or project

Especially if you have not created a study plan yet, creating a study plan can help you stay motivated in college because it provides you a way to intentionally navigate your semester.

Think about if you tried driving to a new destination without a map or GPS. It would be frustrating!

Not having a solid study plan feels just like that because you literally flying by the seat of your pants every single day, which can get exhausting very quickly.

Creating and utilizing a study plan allows you to be on “cruise control” throughout the semester because you don’t have to always be thinking, “what will I work on today? When was the due date again?”

A study plan helps you tackle each day of the semester with intention and focus.

Once you create or revise your study plan, make sure that you commit to it. You didn’t sit down to write up a study plan for nothing right? Just like how you didn’t spend $200 on a new GPS just for it to look pretty on your car’s dashboard.

Everyday you should be referring to your study plan and making time to complete all the tasks you planned to do.

And if it helps motivate you more, try to see how far ahead you can get in your study plan. I mean how good would it feel getting a day or two ahead of your study plan? I bet it would feel pretty amazing.

8. Watch videos on the concepts you are learning

To be honest, a lot of things you’ll learn in college are pretty bland. Try to spice up how you learn and process the information you are learning in class.

Instead of reading the textbook and falling asleep at your desk, try watching videos related to the chapter you are currently reading or try finding a podcast hosting by an expert on the subject.

It can be a lot more engaging seeing the concepts you are learning about come to life and hear how leading experts in the field are utilizing what you are learning in college.

Just be sure to be intentional with the videos you are watching and not go into the rabbit hole watching videos for the rest of the day.

I recommend these YouTube channels to help you learn and engage yourself in your studies:

9. Buy new school supplies

Similar to buying workout clothes before starting a new health and fitness grind, sometimes all you need is a little school supplies retail therapy to boost your motivation in college.

Whether it be new notebooks, pens, or even a bigger ticket item like a bigger desk or faster computer, there is nothing better than new school supplies to get you back into the groove of studying.

If you are looking for school supply recommendations for college, you can check out my blog post on 20+ essential school supplies for college by clicking here.

10. Allow yourself to take breaks to avoid burnout

College burnout is real. So if you are just not feeling like doing college one day, it’s honestly ok to take a half-day or even a whole day off to rejuvenate yourself.

On your mini-break from college, take some time to do the things you really enjoy like writing, spending time working on a hobby, enjoying a meal not from your university’s dining hall, or spending time with friends.

Also, be sure to take breaks while studying to avoid major college burnout. Utilizing a time management strategy, like the Pomodoro Technique, allows you to take a break every 25-45 minutes after focusing on a single task.

The Pomodoro Technique also is perfect for you if you struggle with staying motivated in college because it breaks down overwhelming tasks into chunks of time that don’t seem as intimidating.

For example, writing a 10-page paper seems dreadful versus setting aside just 45-minutes a day to work on your paper and then getting a 15-minute break. Am I right? That’s the power of the Pomodoro Technique!

If you are curious about how to utilize the Pomodoro Technique in your college studies you can read all about it by clicking here.

11. Create a routine for school days

Particularly if you are taking online college classes, it can be easy to do college haphazardly. In other words, going about college blindly with no plan, no routine, and no structure.

Even if you are taking all online classes and your classes are asynchronous (meaning there is no set meeting time with your professor and classmates), create a school routine for yourself.

Having a school routine will help you identify exactly when you are feeling unmotivated or burned out because your routine will feel off. That lets you know it is time to take a break and come back to your school routine the next day.

If you don’t have a routine, it can be hard to pinpoint if you are truly unmotivated or are simply just being lazy.

Your school routine should give you a broad guideline for how your school day at home will look like.

For example:

  • 6:00 AM: Wake up, brush teeth, and shower
  • 7:00 AM: Make coffee, take out the dog, and make breakfast
  • 8:00 AM: Look over agenda, study plan, or to-do list
  • 8:30 AM: Start tackling school work
  • 11:30 AM: Break for lunch
  • 2:00 PM: Go back to school work
  • 6:00 PM: Done with school work for the day

12. Reassess your college major or minor

Sometimes the root of your lack of motivation in college is because of the major or minor you chose. And this doesn’t mean that you chose the wrong major or minor, it just means your interest have changed or your priorities have changed. And that’s ok.

30% of college students change their college major at least once within the first 3 years of college.

Your college major or minor is relatively easy to change, granted you aren’t too far along in them, and making the switch can reinspire you.

When choosing a college major or minor, it is important that you think long-term rather than short-term. Think about where you see yourself in 5 to 10 years from now and what you would like your life to be like.

If you desire to get married and start a family, chose a major (or minor) that would allow you to have a career that provides a good work-life balance like business or data science.

Or if you love to travel, chose a major (or minor) that would allow you to travel around the world, like peace and conflict studies or political science.

If you are having a difficult time choosing a college major, you can Google “college major quiz” and go through a few of them to see what they suggest. Your college or university may even have their own version of a college major quiz.

You can also make an appointment with your academic advisor to talk through different college major or minor options that align with your current interests and future career and life goals.

13. Keep a log of your accomplishments in college and celebrate every win

With the hustle and bustle of college, it is easy to overlook how much you have accomplished in college.

I would highly recommend keeping a simple notebook like this one or finding a place in your agenda to keep track of the various accomplishments you have achieved during your time in college.

You can track good grades you have received, praise or feedback you have received from a professor, job or internship offers you received and purused during college, publications or presentations you have done, etc.

Not only does keeping track of these accomplishments help you stay motivated, but it can also be a great reference tool when you are creating a resume or cover letter for jobs or graduate school applications.

Also, be sure to reward yourself when you achieve your goals in college. In college no one is your biggest cheerleader other than yourself. So when you get an A on a test you studied hours for, take yourself out for a celebratory lunch or buy yourself a small gift from Amazon. Just don’t go too crazy!

14. Browse social media for study inspiration

When all else fails when it comes to finding the motivation to study, go to social media!

Whether it be Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr (I can’t believe this still exists), or YouTube–there is a ton of content out there to help reinspire you to study and become a better student.

Trying searching for aesthetic notes on Pinterest, Instagram, or Tumblr (even if you’re not artistic like me), and you’ll be amazed how much photos of study notes with pretty handwriting, pastel highlighter, and calligraphy will make you want to open up your textbook again.

You can also follow or browse the Instagram profiles of Jasmine @StudyQuill, Seo @tbhstudying, and Emily @emily_studies for gorgeous study note goals and inspiration.

In regards to YouTube, Sareena, who goes by StudyIgn, has incredible videos related to study hacks, productivity, planner organization, etc.

I also used to watch America Revere on YouTube while she was in medical school. She has great vlogs about going to medical school, becoming a doctor, and being in residency to become a surgeon. She even has 2-hour long study with me videos like this one shown below, so you don’t have to feel so alone while studying at your dorm or apartment.

15. Visit on-campus psychological services

When you have tried every tip and trick in the book to remotivate yourself, but nothing is working, there may be an underlying psychological issue that is causing you to feel unmotivated that no amount of school supplies or cups of coffee can fix.

Especially if you find yourself staying in bed all day, not enjoying or engaging in your classes like normal, or your grades steeply declining, it may be time to seek out the help of a mental health professional.

At most, if not all, college and university campuses, there is either counseling or psychological services that is free (already paid with your student tution and fees) to all students.

They tend to offer one-on-one weekly, bi-weekly, or as needed counseling sessions, group therapy sessions, and workshops to help you cope with the stresses of college.

In college, I attended weekly counseling sessions for depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorder my senior year of college.

Going to counseling really helped me work through the issues I was having with my desire to be perfect and taught me how to think more rationally. The skills I learned in counseling helped me a lot when I graduated from college, started working full-time as a Vision Therapist, and even now as a graduate student.

Even if you do not think you need psychological help, it may not be a bad idea to just have an initial consultation and just let your feelings and thoughts out in a non-biased, confidential environment.

I always felt like a huge weight was lifted off my chest when I left my weekly counseling sessions and eventually I was able to identify and catch moments where I was being irrational or overthinking things and reground myself in reality.

Closing thoughts on staying motivated in college even when you have no motivation

Staying motivated in college is a constant challenge for many college students. For many students, motivation comes in waves. One week motivation is sky high and the next its very hard to even open up your laptop.

During the weeks or days, it is hard to muster up the motivation it is always good to have a few tricks up your sleeve to remotivate and reinspire you to continue on with your studies.

In today’s blog post we discussed how to stay motivated in college and 15 motivation tips for college students:

  1. Think about your original intention to attend college
  2. Visualize the end goal
  3. Practice gratitude
  4. Attend and engage in your class lectures
  5. Find classmates you can study with
  6. Change up your study space
  7. Make a study plan and commit to it
  8. Watch videos on the concepts you are learning
  9. Buy new school supplies
  10. Allow yourself to take breaks to avoid burnout
  11. Create a routine for school days
  12. Reassess your college major or minor
  13. Keep a log of your accomplishments and celebrate every win
  14. Browse social media for study inspiration
  15. Visit on-campus psychological services

I hope you found these tips helpful and will want to implement a few as you go about your college journey.

If you found this blog post helpful, please help other college students by sharing this blog post on Pinterest using the share button down below or pin one the images down below. I’d truly appreciate it!

motivational tips for college students who lack motivation
how to stay motivated to study in college
how to stay motivated in college when you have no motivation

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