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HomeStudy HacksHow to Stay Motivated Until the End of the School Year

How to Stay Motivated Until the End of the School Year


how to stay motivated until the end of the school year blog cover

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

Motivation is a tricky thing. It’s fueled by a combination of factors, including your skill level, sense of urgency, brain chemistry, mindset, and more. While we can control some of these factors, others are beyond our control. This can make motivation unpredictable and unreliable. 

If you’re a student, you probably already know what low motivation feels like. It’s the meh feeling you get when you know you need to do something, but you’re being pulled in the opposite direction by some force that’s telling you to “do it later” or to “do it never.” 

Having periods of high and low motivation throughout the school year is perfectly normal. 

Periods of high motivation tend to occur near the beginning of the school year when new courses start, and can dip when the excitement wears off, around mid-year.

In this blog post, I share 5 strategies for how to stay motivated until the end of the school year. It’s one thing to start motivated, but the ultimate goal is to find ways to sustain your motivation until your courses are over.

If you give each of the tips below a solid try (for real) and you’re still struggling with how to stay motivated, then motivation might not be the real issue. Here’s where I explain a leading cause of low motivation – and it might surprise you.

How to Stay Motivated Until the End of the School Year

The following 5 strategies are strategies you can use any time you feel your school motivation dipping. 

1. Change Something

As soon as you feel yourself starting to lose motivation, try changing something about what you’re doing. Novelty (newness) is one of the primary ingredients in motivation. This means that you can get a boost of motivation by doing something different.

There are many ways you can change things up to stay motivated. The following are a few ideas that are simple enough to try any time you begin to lose your energy for school.

  • Change your homework management system. Getting organized and tracking your homework and tasks in a new system can reinvigorate your motivation. Get a new paper planner, design your own at plumpaper.com, or modify how you’re using your current planner.
  • Change your study space. If you normally do your homework in the kitchen, try setting up a small desk in your bedroom. Or if you usually work in your bedroom, consider working somewhere else. If you often study in your dorm room, try studying in the campus library. Even just changing the configuration of your desk can increase motivation, so think about turning it to face a different direction.
  • Change your note-taking methods. Boost your motivation until the end of the school year by finally jacking up your note-taking skills. Solid note-taking skills can directly improve your grades and how successful your study sessions are. Once you see your grades improve, your motivation will increase.

2. Create a Routine

Routines get a bad reputation for being “boring.” But, routines can be a great way to stay motivated until the end of the school year because they provide a structure you can look forward to each day or each week.

Creating a routine adds novelty, which — if you remember from Tip #1 — is one of the key factors of motivation. You can switch up your routine every few weeks if you need to.

Below are some ideas for creating various kinds of routines:

3. Set a Very Specific Goal

Goals that are personally relevant and reasonably challenging can increase your motivation. Again, the magic at work here is novelty.  

Let’s say you’re feeling unmotivated in a particular class, such as math. If you set a very specific and reasonable goal for that class, you might find that you “gamify” your experience in that course. Gamification increases motivation.

An example of a very specific and reasonable goal for a math class could be “stay after school for teacher help at least twice a week.” This is a good goal because you have control over it and it includes a plan. In contrast, setting a goal of “get As on all my math tests” is a badly defined goal because there is no plan for doing that.

Below are some other examples of specific and reasonable academic goals that you might consider making. You can choose one or two, or let them inspire you to make your own:

  • Make flashcards for all my tests
  • Start studying for all tests at least 5 days in advance (here’s how)
  • Start taking notes that are better to study from (here’s how)
  • Submit all assignments on time
  • Keep all digital files named, stored and organized properly until the end of the year 
  • Learn better annotation techniques to increase reading comprehension 

Remember to keep your goals realistic and achievable. If you set a goal that’s too big, you’ll be unlikely to reach it, which can be demoralizing and decrease your motivation.

4. See the Big Picture

Focusing on the wrong things can kill your motivation fast. To stay motivated until the end of the school year, make sure that you’re focusing on the big picture. You might have poor motivation in a single class or for a particular assignment, but it’s never really about a single grade or a single class… it’s usually about something bigger.

When your motivation dips, focus on the bigger picture. It’s about proving to yourself that you can do what you say you’re going to do. It’s about your larger GPA and college/career plans. Your confidence. Your reputation, reliability, and skill building.

I get that you might not like a class or don’t feel like doing your assignments, but can you focus on something bigger than that? Zoom out a little bit and think about why you’re really in school… It’s not just for the content, but for the skill and the ability to do things that you don’t want to do. Rally now so you can succeed at what comes next.

Some of the students I work with who have poor motivation tell me they know their motivation will increase once they’re in college, take a class they like, or are in the workforce. But this is rarely the case. This is an illusion. If you can’t muster the discipline (move over motivation — it’s not about you anymore) to do what’s expected now, you won’t be able to do it “later.” Telling yourself otherwise is dangerous.

5. Have a Plan B

You will have bad days, bad tests, bad moments and bad weeks. This is life. Don’t let this derail you by not having a Plan B. 

If you fall off the bandwagon or experience a failure, have a backup plan that can get you back on track. 

For example: If you’re struggling with certain material, create a rule for yourself that you’ll stay after with the professor 3 days a week until the material makes sense (do this before the test). 

If you’re unmotivated to do a long-term assignment (like a project or an essay), create a rule for yourself that you’ll use body doubling or work in your favorite coffee shop. 

Have a plan for dealing with failed tests. Know who to talk to when you’re struggling. Know how to lift your own mood when you’re low.

In other words, anticipate your common motivation roadblocks and have a Plan B for each of them.

The most successful students know that motivation is temporary and unreliable because it’s an emotion. They know about the power of making simple changes, of creating routines, of setting specific and reasonable goals, of focusing on the big picture instead of the minutia, and they know how to anticipate and rebound from challenges with a Plan B.

If you’re really struggling with how to stay motivated until the end of the school year and this list of strategies is overwhelming, start with tip number one. Start with making a small change in your daily routine. This might give you just the amount of motivation you need to keep going with the rest of the strategies.

Additional Resources About Motivation




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