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Taking a class that you’re not interested in this term? Struggling to stay interested with only a few semesters left to go? There are many ways to enhance your motivation in order to succeed in your courses. Research has shown us that while your motivation to learn is the most important predictor of success, non-academic uses of time can also contribute to higher student engagement. “Active” uses of time are associated with higher conscientiousness, and the ability to do better academic work.

Struggling with motivation? Here are some strategies to help you get started!

Try these strategies to build academic motivation:

Get involved with a campus activity related to your academics.

Try volunteering for the university, or attending events put on by your department. Consider joining your departmental student union, helping plan activities, or participating in a debate or a business case competition. If you enjoy writing, try turning an assignment into a shorter piece for The Peak student newspaper.

Benefits: Socializing is a fun, important part of student life. Getting involved in campus activities is a great way to meet people with shared interests, make connections between school and work, and learn more about yourself!

Build regular exercise into your schedule on campus.

If you’re having a hard time staying motivated to study, mix it up with some physical activity in your day. Keeping yourself active is an important way to keep your body and mind healthy.

Tip: Try breaking up your study time in the library with a trip to the gym, or by attending one of the exercise classes or intramural sports offered by SFU Recreation and Athletics. When you return from your break refreshed, you’ll be more able to focus on studying. If you’re not into the gym, the beautiful trails in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area are a great place to go for a walk.

If you work while in school, consider applying for a job on campus.

Working during the semester is a reality for many students, and it can be hard to balance competing commitments. On-campus employers often understand student needs and will offer flexibility during exam period and busy times. Plus, you get to meet and work with other students!

Tip: SFU has programs such as Work-Study and the Temp pool that provide excellent employment opportunities to students. If you have made a good connection with a professor, don’t forget to ask if they are hiring any research assistants.

Don’t forget to spend time with your family and loved ones.

It is important to recharge and connect with the important people in your life. This can keep your academic work in perspective, and help motivate you to work towards your long-term goals.

Unplug from the computer.

Almost every student has procrastinated online at some time during their degree. Try going to the library without your laptop in order to focus on your textbook, or consider turning off your wifi or cellphone while you complete your assignment.

Tip: Health & Counselling Services (MBC 0100) offers one-on-one appointments and workshops.

Find ways to tie learning outcomes to your career goals.

Sometimes it can be difficult to see how your course work connects to employment opportunities you will enjoy. The skills that you learn in university are transferable, and reminding yourself of the skills you’re building can help motivate you, as well as add to your resume.

Tip: Career Services offers one-on-one appointments, workshops, and resources that can help you explore career options.



Reference consulted:

Brint, S., & A.M. Cantwell. (2010). Undergraduate Time Use and Academic Outcomes: Results from the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey 2006. Teachers College Record 112(9), 2441-2470.