You want to graduate, but don’t feel motivated to go to school. These motivation tips are for students who need inspiration to keep going – whether you’re applying for grad school or halfway through your degree.
Here’s what M. said: “[Applying to graduate school] has been very frustrating and confusing and at times I have even decided to quit this application all together. Would you have any words of wisdom from your experience going through this process?” – on my article about getting into grad school for a Master’s or PhD program.
Yes, I do. My first tip is to learn what motivates you – whether you need to learn how to stay motivated to start a blog or write a 25 page college essay. Me, I’m motivated to go to university (I’ll be starting my Master’s of Social Work – MSW – in September) because I love school. I especially love university. I love learning, writing assignments, and even taking tests!
So, it’s easy for me to stay motivated to go to university…but if you’re not a natural student, you need to find what will keep you focused on your academic goals.
5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Finish College
Would you rather be bored with your humdrum life, or challenged to achieve new goals?
Would you rather go to your same old job every day for the rest of your life, or step outside your comfort zone?
Would you rather waste away in a job you hate, or LIVE life fully?
I’ve always been motivated to go to school because I think school opens up exciting new worlds. My husband had a hard time in school – he graduated with a geology degree from the University of Alberta – and now he makes over $100,000 a year as a geologist in Vancouver. Maybe he should be writing this article, not me! But I know he agrees with this first tip for staying motivated to go to college or university…
1. Focus on the reasons you want your degree
Why are you in school? Maybe you can’t get the job you want without a college degree, or you have academic goals that you’ve always wanted to achieve. Maybe you want to earn a few hundred thousand dollars a year, and you know the best way to do that is to get an MBA, law degree, or medical degree. Or, maybe you want to heal the sick or defend the vulnerable – so you need to go to college or university.
Me, I want to counsel people who have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses. I have Psychology and Education degrees from the University of Alberta, but I really want to learn how to be a counselor. And, I want to work in hospitals or clinics, so I decided a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) would be idea.
To stay motivated to go to school, focus on your end goal.
If financial stress is decreasing your motivation, read How to Get Good College Grades When You’re Stressed About Money.
2. Make the law of time work for you
I lived in Africa for three years, and thought my time there would never end. I was scared of everything: getting sick, getting mugged, getting killed, getting too old to get married.
Now, I wish I could go back and do it all over again! It was one of the most exciting times of my life – probably the most exciting time. I was scared, confused, and an emotional wreck for most of the three years…but I was also more alive than ever before, because I was challenged to live beyond my comfort zone.
How can you make the law of time work for you? Remember that time FLIES! These four years of college or two years of graduate school will go by SO FAST – it’ll be over before you know it. Trust me.
3. Remember that the greatest efforts bring the greatest rewards
Whether you’re applying to grad school or just trying to stay motivated to go to class today, remember that good things take time and effort. I truly believe there are numerous and meaningful rewards of being a college or university student, interacting with peers, learning how to counsel people (or whatever you want to specialize in), and even writing a thesis.
Plus, the experiences you have and the connections you make are priceless! The people you meet in college or university will change your life, and can even become lifelong friends. To stay motivated to go to school, remember that you are changing your life in important ways.
If you need to work your way through school, read 10 Highest Paying Jobs for College Students.
4. Don’t be intimated by the course work – or the application process
I’m currently working as a Mentoring Coordinator with Big Brothers in Vancouver – I’m filling a maternity leave until the end of August. One of the Big Brothers I recently matched with a Little Brother has his MBA (Master’s of Business Administration). He said it was really hard. He found his undergrad degree easy, but his MBA was challenging. He said writing and defending his thesis was easier than he expected, but it was a lot of work to complete an MBA.
That Big Brother has no regrets, though, and said he’s really glad he graduated from grad school. He now works with BC Hydro, and gets 3 weeks of vacation every year, plus 18 flex days a year. Not to mention his salary! (I don’t know how much he makes, but I know MBAs make lots of money – so if you’re motivated by money, you may want to consider going to university for your MBA).
5. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you graduate from college
Coping with the frustration and confusion of going to college or university – or applying to a Master’s or PhD program – must be tempered with the anticipation and excitement of academic achievement. I remember going back for my education degree at the U of A, and feeling overwhelmed by the classes and work.
But, I stayed motivated to keep going to university because I wanted to teach in Africa. Indeed, I had packed up and moved to Kenya before I even graduated – I missed my graduation ceremony because I got the job and had to start work!
Getting your degree or diploma will be worth it in the long run.
Going to grad school will be tough – I’m not looking forward to the long bus ride to UBC every day, and I hate the thought of leaving my dog alone all day! And of course there’s the financial and personal sacrifices that university or college forces you to undergo. But I know I’ll graduate if I stay focused on my long-term goals.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me! Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.