Ways to Stay Motivated in Online School

There is no doubt that taking classes, especially university classes, is already hard enough. Now it’s all online? It seems like everything students once knew about their learning experience has been stripped away from them, leading them to feel unmotivated and uncertain about their classes. Here are a few ways to combat those feelings.

Make a list, and check it twice

With everything being online, it’s very easy to forget about assignments due that day, a study session you scheduled with a friend, or even a completely asynchronous class you signed up for. Grab some sticky notes, a journal, a board, or even the reminders app on your phone and jot down what you have to do for that week. This way, you can physically see what you have to get done, and you won’t leave Jim or Sally alone in the WebEx study session you planned for 3:30.


Now that you have your list, it may be a bit overwhelming to look at. Balancing a full load of college credits on top of other assets of life is a lot to deal with. Try to go through your list and see what is most important. If you have Math homework due at midnight, maybe hold off on doing that Art project due in 2 weeks. You could also try working on things little by little to ease the stress. Have a 10-page English paper due in a week? Try writing a page or two every day and revise it before you turn it in. Trust me, that works much better than trying to write the paper 2 hours before it’s due.

Set goals for yourself

Goals and incentives are great ways to get motivated. These goals can be more abstract, like saying I will get three assignments done today, and you choose what you work on for the day. It could also be more concrete, like saying I will finish my Math homework, my Chemistry lab, and my reading for English before I go to bed tonight. Incentives are also a great motivator. For example, you could reward yourself with a couple of chocolates after you finish that long English reading, or you could take a 30-minute nap after that draining Math homework you have been working on all morning.

Take a break, it’s alright

Breaks are always good. People do not recognize that breaks are actually extremely helpful in studying. If you’re pulling a late-night studying session for your exam the next day, try studying for 30 minutes and take a break for 10 minutes. In that time you can do whatever you want; a quick nap, go for coffee, take a walk, play a game, you name it. Just don’t make the break disproportionately long. I’m not sure how 10 minutes of studying and 2 hours of break time would reflect in your grade.

See the light at the end of the tunnel

Sometimes goals don’t get met, and that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes you have to take things in stride and roll with the punches. Try to ground yourself, refocus, and charge onward. Understanding that you’re taking these classes for a reason is a big part of being motivated. You’re more likely to brush something off if you see no point in it. Even if it’s a general education requirement or that Statistics class you didn’t want to take, you have to tell yourself, this class is going to help me in my professional life after graduation, and try to keep moving. I always say, “It’s not about the cards you were dealt, it’s about how you play it.”

These were a few tips that personally help me in my studies, and hopefully, they help you. I know times are tough, but you’ve got this, Retrievers!

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