Whether it’s your first year in college or your last, staying motivated is key. Away from home, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by the daily obligations you have to juggle, as well as the social pressures from friends.
When you set college goals, you owe it to yourself to see them through to fruition. Having a dedicated strategy can make all the difference. Today, we’re here to share a few of our top tips to help you stay focused, motivated, and empowered to reach your highest potential.
1. Set the Right Goals
Before we dive into our best college motivation tips, let’s start at the beginning. If you want to achieve your goals, then they must be realistic and actionable. Otherwise, even your best-laid plans could go awry.
Take the time to create a vision that you can manifest with hard work and dedication. For example, you might have a goal to earn a good-paying job right out of college, or to travel to a foreign country.
An unrealistic version of this would be to expect a millionaire’s salary upon graduation, or a one-way ticket to travel all the way around the world.
While these ideas might sound great in theory, think about them on paper. Though there are breakthrough success stories, most goals are achieved through hard work and time.
If your goals are aligned with your abilities and means from the start, then you’re that much more likely to reach them. Not sure where to start? Write down the following features about yourself:
- Your natural strengths
- Your usual routines
- Your interests
- Your vision for the future
Be honest with your answers, and avoid the urge to respond as you think anyone expects you to. Your goals should match your authentic, true pursuits. If not, you’ll grow bored and disillusioned with them over time.
2. Find a Supportive Network
Put simply, the people you hang out with will either support your goals or deter you away from them. Especially in college, it’s important to choose wisely.
While it’s important to pencil in time for socialization and entertainment, keep in mind that too much of a good thing usually has the opposite effect. Seek to surround yourself with people who will lift you up, encourage you, and give you the time you need to study hard.
If you have a friend who’s constantly downing your ideas or discouraging you from working toward your goals, then consider if that’s a friendship worth continuing. A true companion wants to see you succeed — not the other way around. You need people you can call when you’re in a slump and expect to hang up feeling motivated and refreshed.
In addition to your peer group, this also includes partnering with mentors and advisors at your college or university. It can be invaluable to connect with a professor who sees your potential and encourages your best work. This person can also help you choose the best courses for your major, and may even help you land an internship or networking opportunity when it’s time to enter the job field!
3. Celebrate Minor Wins
One of our best tips for staying motivated in college? Don’t forget to celebrate all of your victories, no matter how small they might seem! While the biggest achievement will obviously come on graduation day, you still deserve to reward yourself for all the hard work you put in along the way.
From scoring well on a test to writing a paper that gets rave reviews, you’ll experience many victories when you commit to your goals. Find enjoyable, healthy ways to honor each occasion so you’ll want to achieve that level of success again! This might mean treating yourself to the local coffee shop on campus, or taking a night off to watch a movie with friends.
4. Join Clubs and Organizations
Most colleges offer a range of different sports, clubs, and organizations that students can participate in to connect with others. While you don’t want to overload your schedule, think about signing up for some!
Start by checking into topics that interest you. For instance, you might feel drawn to the Spanish club, or an intramural soccer team. Not only can these groups add a little fun to your weekly routine, but they can also help you meet new friends and expand your network.
At the same time, you can also consider joining a local honor society! These are designed to recognize your academic achievements and help you reach future success. Many will also offer great networking opportunities, student discounts, and other perks.
An honor society like Alpha Lambda Delta offers leadership development, study abroad trips, financial benefits, and more!
5. Stay Organized
It can be impossible to feel motivated when your dorm room is a mess and you can’t find half of your important papers. At the start of each week, take the time to organize your work space and your living space. These should be areas that inspire you, and they can’t reach that potential if they stay cluttered all the time.
You don’t have to do a deep-clean every time, but find a designated spot for all of your items, from your toothbrush to your chemistry binder. This way, you’ll always know where to go when you need something, and you won’t waste time searching through an assortment of scattered items.
While you’re cleaning, think about adding a few inspirational pieces around your desk that you can look at while you study! From posters and pictures to encouraging quotes, there are plenty of decor items that can give you the boost you need to keep going.
6. Use a Time Management App
We’ve all been there. You sit down to study at the library and the next time you look up, hours have passed. While you may inevitably pull a few all-nighters during your time in college, it’s critical to find a balance between your academic life and your personal life.
Otherwise, you could be on the road to burnout, fast. It’s important to study hard, but there must be a balance.
Thankfully, there are many different time management apps for students that are designed to help you stay on track. With these tools, you can create a realistic schedule that works for you. You can also add important dates to remember, such as an upcoming exam, to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
7. Spend Time in Your Future Career
Writing down your career goals is one thing. Actively pursuing them and working toward them is another. Yet, while you’re in the middle of the college grind, it can be difficult to visualize your future career.
Instead, you’re focused on day-to-day issues, such as the English test on Friday or the meeting with your advisor tomorrow. Forced to keep such a short-term perspective, it’s easy to feel unmotivated after a while.
This is when it can help to take a break and leave your campus for a while. If possible, spend some time job shadowing someone in your field, or visiting the local office of a company you’d love to work for one day.
Just being in this environment can remind you why you set the goals that you did. It can also motivate you to stay the course, even when times get hard. If you’re able to connect with someone in your field, set up a short meeting to learn how they got there.
Did they take any special courses? Did they attend any special trainings or achieve professional certification? What steps should you take if you want to emulate their progress?
It can be refreshing to be in the real world, even if it’s just for a day. You’ll return to school with a newfound appreciation for your craft, and excitement for your future.
8. Create a Routine
As humans, we naturally thrive off routine. Even though it might seem monotonous at first, we need to follow the same sequence of events on a regular basis. Without some sort of structure in place, it’s easy to flounder in college.
Most of the time, your course schedule will largely dictate how your routine goes. Once that’s in place, you can schedule the rest of your day around it. For instance, you may go to bed early on nights before your morning classes, or plan an earlier dinner to accommodate your night class.
A routine does more than give order to your day. It also helps you feel neater and more organized, which can go a long way toward keeping you inspired.
Need a little support as you carve one out? Check out these five healthy routines that can help you make the most of your time in college!
9. Take Mental Health Days
In the past few years, mental health has become a more prevalent part of the media dialogue, and for good reason. Thanks to the Digital Age, we’re all more connected than ever before. However, we’re also more stressed and over-worked.
For that reason, we suggest putting the planner in the drawer when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion. You can’t reach your college goals if you’re barely staying awake.
Take a walk around campus with your headphones on, or sit in the outdoor common space and simply people-watch. Or, schedule some time to grab a pastry with a friend or check out the local shopping near campus.
These times away from the textbook aren’t distractions. Rather, they’re necessary to help you press the veritable “reset” button. Walking away for a few hours can leave you feeling inspired and rejuvenated when it’s time to hit the books again.
10. Prioritize Personal Accountability
Earlier, we talked about the importance of establishing a reward system to help you celebrate mini victories. At the same time, it’s equally important to hold yourself accountable when you veer too far off track.
A simple consequences system can help encourage you to reach your goals. For instance, if you skip out on studying and perform poorly on a test, then you might take away your weekly visit to the local bakery nearby. The same holds true if you miss an important meeting, skip class, or do anything else that might steer you away from the right path.
While it’s unrealistic to expect perfection, there should be some type of repercussion in place if you intentionally slack off on your goals.
11. Adjust Your Goals as Needed
The goals that you set on the first day of your freshman year of college might look a little different by your second or third year at school. That’s OK! In fact, that’s perfectly normal.
Look at your goals as living, moving things that will naturally adjust over time. College is a time to find yourself, and the things you discover may affect your plans for the future. For instance, you might start college absolutely sure that you want to study one topic, then change your mind after you take a few courses in the subject.
That’s why it’s smart to check in on your goals periodically. Reevaluate what it is that you hope to accomplish, and if you’re on track to reach those aspirations. If necessary, adjust your goals to fit your new vision!
Reach Success With Your College Goals
College is one of the most formative and exciting times of your life. This is true whether your campus is the size of a small city or you attend your local community college!
The plans you put in place today can directly affect your future. That’s why it’s smart to set college goals early, and work continuously to achieve them. As you follow the steps above, you’ll be that much closer to turning your dreams into a rewarding reality.
Looking for more inspiration to help you work hard and enjoy life? Check back often for all of the informative guides you need!