Back to Uni Blues: How to motivate yourself for another year of study

After nearly three months of summer holidays, it can be incredibly difficult to get back into the rhythm of uni life. Months spent by the beach, in the pool, having dinner and drinks with mates, and bingeing Netflix in an air conditioned bedroom become distant memories. Good times will be quickly replaced by all-nighters, days spent in the library poring over books and not remembering a single word of information – depressing stuff right? But it doesn’t have to be this way. Motivating yourself to get back into your old rhythm and feeling excited about doing so is surprisingly doable.   

Author Laurie Penney has a brilliant quote in British newspaper The Independent, which never fails to lift any depth of motivational slump. She writes,

“Go to university, but go for the right reasons. Education isn’t a gun held to your head: it’s a weapon in your hands. Go not because you’re afraid of not getting a job but go because you love to learn, because you’re excited by ideas, because you believe that education is important for its own sake, and when you get there, pay attention, read everything you can get your hands on, cram yourself with words and figures and ideas, because that’s the one thing they can never take away from you.”

As UWA students, we are already significantly privileged; we have access to one of the best educational systems in the world, professors and tutors who are experts in their respective fields, and endless knowledge at our fingertips. It is important to remind ourselves of this fact and not only to be grateful for what we have, but to fully embrace and take advantage of it.  

This being said, it can be difficult to convert feelings of inspiration and curiosity into actual work. The following are some steps to getting started.

Set small achievable goals. Goals are mere steps towards achieving our dreams, but having great aspirations and seeing no way to achieve them can lead to feelings of hopelessness and dejection. Setting smaller, more attainable goals builds confidence and creates positive action.  Working towards your dreams, no matter how small your efforts may seem, is better than procrastinating out of fear of failure.

Create a realistic study plan. This will allow you to consistently cover small quantities of information without becoming overwhelmed or studying to the point of burnout. It will also prevent a buildup of content, especially around assessment and exam deadlines, when there is simply no time to catch up. No matter how much you promise yourself you’ll do during study break, it’s somehow never quite enough.  

Ask your friends to study with you. Studying can get lonely. Granted, some people focus better on their own, but trialing different methods like quizzing other people, or teaching them content in order to test your own understanding, can be more beneficial than solo study. Changing up your study habits engages different parts of the brain and allows better memory retention and recall.

Take constructive breaks. Sitting in a chair for three hours won’t imprint the knowledge into your mind, just as working for twenty minutes and rewarding yourself with an hour-long break won’t help you. Study for as long as you feel you’re able to concentrate effectively, then do something productive: make a snack, go for a walk, have a shower. Worrying about the exact timing of your study sessions and breaks is counter-productive and a common procrastination method.

Remember that university should be a holistic experience. As important as grades are, your focus shouldn’t only be on academia. Join some clubs, sports teams, or get involved with the ample volunteering opportunities offered by both the Student Guild and other organisations. Make as many memories as you can; you’ll cherish them once you graduate and move onto the next phase of your life.

~ Priyanka Sharma

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