Thursday, February 21, 2013

The College Student Perspective - Staying Motivated Through Your College Career

By Nuriya Safarova, pre-law student at American River College for My College Calendar

I am a sophomore at American River College in Sacramento, California preparing to begin my fourth semester. An ongoing issue I have each semester is that as soon as classes begin, I fall into some sort of “ditch” where I get stuck and struggle to motivate myself. I have trouble focusing on my studies and completing assignments. Sometimes I catch myself comparing my student life to other students and think how are other people able to stay in school, work their jobs, and earn good grades, while I struggle so much with motivating myself to do the same.

I try to I do well with planning ahead; I know the work ahead of me, but it all stays in my mind rather than getting executed. When it comes to completing homework, all of a sudden I become tired and begin to think of other tasks that need to be done; eventually, I start to panic and begin creating excuses for not doing the work. I tell myself, “10 more minutes and I will sit down and focus.” This struggle typically continues every day and the more I beat myself down, the worse the situation becomes.

As students we all struggle with pulling ourselves together, having the motivation to stay in college, and doing well academically . . . and believe me, it will only get more difficult when you transfer to a 4-year university. In order to get accepted to a good 4-year university, one needs to have top grades and successfully complete time-consuming transfer student application; an application on which all of your work throughout your community college career is presented for admission officers to review and evaluate. On top of that, most community college students have additional challenges of either part-time or full time jobs, tremendous amounts of homework, and, perhaps, family obligations.

The obstacles to student success are many, but here are some tips on how to stay motivated throughout your college career and be successful not only in community college, but in 4-year universities as well: Stay focused on academics, allow yourself to rest properly, prioritize school and work, and earn the excellent grades necessary to boost your transfer eligibility and chances for admission to your university of choice.

Staying motivated means staying focused on one thing at a time. Get a notepad and make a list of priorities from most difficult to easiest; not only will the list keep you focused on one task at a time, you will eliminate the stress of having to think of everything that needs to be completed. As you progress, scratch out tasks you have completed and move on to the next. Don’t think about what comes afterward, focus on current assignment and get it done.

Resting between tasks will build your motivation to work on next assignment. Taking breaks between assignments will allow your brain to store the information learned, recharge, and be ready for the next project. For me, the most effective way to rest is to step outside into fresh air and take a 15-minute walk.

One of the impediments to staying motivated is having a busy schedule. If you are working full-time or part-time, arrange to work on your school assignments during the hours you are best able to function. For example, if you come home late at night, it is always better to wake up early the next day and do your work rather than trying to cram everything together through the dawn. Or, if you return home from school or work early, give yourself an hour break then sit down and to work on your assignments. The earlier you start, the earlier you finish and potentially have spare time to complete other responsibilities.

To help retain the knowledge gained from academic assignments, try to apply what you have learned to life situations; try to explain what you have learned to someone else. This will help you store the knowledge and be able comprehend it more fully. If you are still struggling with understanding the material, ask your professor for help or find a tutoring center at your college. Remember, keeping up those grades is necessary if you intend to transfer to a 4-year university and ultimately enroll into a graduate program.

Finally, 4-year universities require transfer-student applicants to have excellent grades and to submit an outstanding application for admission. To be able to demonstrate both of these, students need to stay motivated to do the highest quality of work and make a determined effort to create a stellar application. Stellar applications should clearly show your years of hard work, academic successes, and the strong desire to enroll into the university to which you are applying.

A college career is never easy, especially if you are unable to properly motivate yourself. I personally struggle with staying focused and getting top grades because of my need to juggle work, school, and family life. But I always remember to take one step at a time, prioritize my school schedule amongst other responsibilities, make sure I don’t burn out by not taking rest between assignments, and strive for the best possible grades I can earn. In the back of my mind I always remember the importance of being able to show my hard work and success not only through my college application for admission, but by actually reaching the goals I set for myself.