Mid semester motivation for that mid-semester slump

It’s that time of the semester when student apathy is at an all-time high, but goal-setting, a change of scenery, and a little positive reinforcement could be just what it takes to spark some inspiration. 

According to Gerry Rollick, learning coach at SAIT, students who are goal-focused are able to maintain motivation better compared to students who don’t set goals. 

Having long-term goals, such as graduating with a diploma or a degree, or gaining the essential skills for a new career, can help students remember why they’re doing “all the drudgery,” said Rollick.

Charity Lehn, third-year psychology student at MRU, is hoping to pursue a master’s degree after she is done her bachelor of arts. This means her grades have to be “competitively high.”

“That’s what motivates me to do as well as possible, even when I might not want to do everything I have to,” said Lehn. 

In addition to goal-setting, Rollick said it might also help to break down large tasks into smaller ones, because then “the stress doesn’t seem so insurmountable.” 

Oftentimes we think about all of the things that we need to accomplish, and our brain assumes that it all has to happen right now. This has the effect of increasing our heart rate.

 “When we get stressed we tend to shut down and we tend not to do anything,” said Rollick.

In order to break down large tasks, it might be necessary to set a schedule for the weeks ahead, because when we feel more in control of our week, we stay more motivated.

Seeing little tasks getting accomplished inspires us to keep working away, said Rollick. Students should also change their normal routine in order to make studying more interesting. 

Rollick suggests finding a new place to study, creating a study space that feels fresh and inviting, or inviting some classmates to a group study session. 

“If you’re studying with like minds, there’s a bit of a social aspect, which makes things more interesting.”

The promise of a drink or a bite to eat after a job well done could also be a good motivator, according to Rollick. 

These small rewards are important, because if students are doing nothing but work it can become “very tiresome.” 

It is also important for students to take frequent breaks, and to build time in their study schedule for themselves, whether that means taking a few minutes to meditate, do yoga, or to get some fresh air.  

“Whether you watch an episode of your favourite show or take a bath, giving yourself breaks is the best way to make it seem like less work,” said Lehn. 

According to Lehn, if students are taking care of their mental health they will feel more motivated as a result. 

“I always tell people to take time for themselves or to take breaks when working for long periods of time.

“I am a firm believer that mental health is the most important thing for all post-secondary students.”

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