Articles by
     Ty Howard

Getting and Staying Motivated as a College Student

Copyright © 2010 by Ty Howard.   All rights reserved.

Even the most active and successful college student will become unmotivated at one time or another. Due to the many responsibilities, decisions, obstacles, relationship challenges, pressures and the overall impact of the college experience, it’s not uncommon to find a college student at a point where he/she feels overwhelmed, disconnected, disinterested and unmotivated. Getting and staying motivated today isn’t easy. Here are a few tips that can get and keep you motivated as a college student, and ready to face the world again.

1. Give yourself a check-up from the neck up.

What is your current Attitude? Why? The way to push through a period of feeling down or to lift yourself out of a slump is to change and shift your Attitude to a more positive place. Dr. Wayne Dyer said best, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Make this very moment – the moment – you change the way you’re currently looking at things so you can put both your Attitude (positive thoughts) and you on a healthier path towards higher levels of self-motivation.

2. Use positive self-talk.

If you notice yourself feeling down and unmotivated, be aware of how you're talking to yourself. You may be telling yourself negative things. Negative self-talk like, “College isn’t for me,” “I’m missing out on fun sitting here in this boring class,” or “I don’t have any friends because no one understands me.” Consider whether you would tell a friend in your situation those same things. Talk positively to yourself. Positive self-talk like, “College is and will be my key to a brighter future,” “I’m doing what I have to do now so I can enjoy the fun of a better life later,” and “College is the best place for me to step out of my comfort zone to make friends and rewarding connections for my future success.” Encourage yourself as you would a good friend or a younger brother or sister.

3. Focus on one goal.

Sometimes when you're unmotivated in college, it's because you've taken on too much and are overwhelmed. Start getting out of your slump by choosing just one small goal to focus on. For instance, suppose your goal is to get a class project done. Instead of committing to getting the project done the evening before it’s due, start researching and putting the project together two weeks or more before the due date by working on the project for 10 minutes a day Monday through Friday. This is a goal you can reach. You may be able to do more, but commit to only a bare minimum. Build on small wins with smart and manageable planning, and you’ll find yourself motivated and less overwhelmed. This will also help you to keep negative self-talk at bay.

4. Find a positive – motivated – role model.

Often times when a person is unmotivated, he/she may not be satisfied with the images they see or the emotions they are feeling. If this is your case, find someone who is positive and motivated, and use them to motivate you. This could be a parent, relative, professor, advisor, student affairs professional, friend, mentor or coach.

5. Get up, get out, and go do something YOU consider fun.

If anyone sits still long enough, life will become uneventful and boring. This is where you contact a family member, close friend or a positive classmate to ask them to join you in getting up and going out to do something that is safe, positive and fun. Your only special request to your family member, friend or classmate is for the fun to be something YOU like do.

6. Watch or read something inspiring.

Inspiring movies and books are always a good source for motivation, encouragement and pick-me-ups! Movies like: “Coach Carter”, “Remember the Titans”, “Freedom Writers”, and “Stand and Deliver”. Books like: Chicken Soup for the Soul, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, How to Win Friends & Influence People, Major in Success, and Untie the Knots® That Tie Up Your Life. Choose a movie or book that appeals most to you and use it to motivate you in periods where you’re unmotivated.

7. Write yourself a positive and encouraging letter.

Writing yourself a positive and encouraging letter during times where you’re unmotivated can be one of the most liberating things you can do. In down times, it can be tough to speak positive words aloud or even to say encouraging words to yourself in your mind (thoughts). This is where the technique of writing a positive and encouraging letter to you comes into play. Find yourself a pen/sharpened pencil and a single sheet of lined paper. At the top of the paper in the right-hand corner write your name. Up under your name, write today’s day and date, and up under the day and date, write the current time of the day. Skip down the page three more lines and begin your letter Dear (your name), and two lines below this line write yourself a positive and encouraging letter starting with and completing the following statement: “College is and will be the key to me _____________________________.” You’re to write at least 3 to 4 paragraphs in your letter to yourself.

8. Ask for help.

Ask for help when you get discouraged. Call on a positive and caring family member, advisor, professor, student affairs professional, or friend. If things feel too overwhelming, talk to a counselor or a professional therapist on or off campus. It doesn't matter who you turn to, just reach out to someone positive, caring, and that you know will be supportive.

Right now, throughout your whole being, see and feel how truly good your life will be as a result of you successfully completing your college experience. Carry that positive vision with you as you move forward and create a brighter and more upbeat you.

You can get and stay motivated! Life is a gift—don’t waste or miss it by staying unmotivated. Live the beauty that is here for you now by continuously applying the above eight tips that can help to keep you motivated as a college student, and through life.

Ty Howard is an internationally recognized authority on college student and staff development for peak performance and optimal success. He is the creator and lead facilitator of the trademarked Untie the Knots® Optimal Performance Process, and the author of the best-selling book Untie the Knots® That Tie Up Your Life: A Practical Guide to Freeing Yourself from Toxic Habits, Choices, People, and Relationships, as well as dozens of published articles on college student development and employee and organizational development worldwide. For information on his programs and services, visit:




Additional Related Articles on This Topic:

Getting Past Homesickness While in College

How to Stay F.O.C.U.S.E.D. While in College

Reigniting Your Motivation for College


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