College students have had a lot on their plate for the last year and a half due to the pandemic: remote learning, moving out of dorms, personal matters, and so on. Not being in a classroom can be truly difficult for students, but having the pandemic directly affect some individuals has caused a serious gap in college students and motivation. In April of 2021, the University of Colorado set up a survey to their students. The results showed that students were truly unmotivated and the contributing factors were “lack of structure, change in environment, lack of communication, disorganization in both teacher and self, and lack of in person contact.” With these being some of the main issues, how can we as a community help with the issue of college students and motivation? How can extrinsic motivation help college students motivate themselves? 

Structure

      With the top issue being lack of structure, college students need to have consistency. Some ideas to start in your daily routine: plan your day out! Whether it is going to Starbucks or Dunkin’ or having breakfast at the same time every day, start a routine as if you were using your meal cards. Instead of rolling out of bed and heading right over to your computer, give yourself something to look forward to. Time management will help you achieve extra goals that you have been avoiding due to not having the same environment. Whether you buy a digital or hardcopy planner, it will help you draw out what needs to be done and will motivate you to get work done. It is important to celebrate your smaller milestones as well as eventually being awarded your degree(s). 

Environment Changes

Students have gone from plastic chairs to their beds when tuning into a lecture, and for some this has made it even more difficult than before. A lot of students come to school as an escape from their personal lives, and now the two are closer than ever. With that being said, it is pertinent to have a space where you can focus on school and nothing else–that includes not being distracted by your phone. After you have set up a safe space to work, think about an award system you can use to help prevent yourself from distractions. If you’re environmentally conscious, I highly suggest an app called Forest! Set a timer to prevent yourself from scrolling and you plant trees and obtain little plants on the app. Put your phone on “do not disturb” for an extra boost of focus. 

Online Learning and Lack of In-Person Contact

Online learning has been a game changer for everyone. With a long list of pros and cons, it is hard to decipher whether or not it has negatively impacted education in the long run. For those graduating last semester, it was a sigh of relief to never have to do it again. However, for incoming freshmen, it has been a nightmare. Found in this blog are a series of testimonials from freshmen and how they have struggled mentally and educationally throughout the year. Specifically, a student from University of California, Berkeley stated that:

 “He blames his off days on his lack of structure at school and having to attend Zoom classes that tend to fuel his tendency to procrastinate since he knows he has the ability to zone out and watch recorded classes later. Wong said that taking notes in-person was easier to do. But pausing and writing things down made classes feel twice as long for him this past semester.”

    What can we do for students who are feeling the same way? Build a life outside of all of the stress and work from school. It is so important to socialize and reach out to the ones we care for. If you finish something early, go out to lunch with a friend or go to your favorite bookstore and treat yourself to a new book! Reward yourself for getting through your classes and being able to motivate yourself to finish the work. Make time for your studies, but also make time to socialize and gain new perspectives. 

Staying Positive

Staying positive can definitely be more tricky than writing a thesis paper; however, it should be a big priority in your life. You can refer to this past article here, but also remember to take care of your mind, body and soul. Remember to breathe and to take one day at a time because the equation of motivation and college students can be a difficult journey. One day at a time and you are one step closer to your career path. Don’t let the distractions disrupt your motivation!