TOPIC OF THE WEEK: How to stay engaged in school even when you want to give up
Coming from a background of countless AP courses, exams, SATs, subject tests and typical high school obligations, transitioning to a higher education institution did not nearly come as a shock, at least, as would otherwise be the case for many at the UA. I’ve been relatively successful, but I sometimes find it difficult to advance when a continuation of studies feels so tiresome and monotonous; you cram for exams, pass, forget about it, rinse and repeat for yet another half decade. Although sometimes I feel like doing something that requires less thinking, I’m humbled by the fact that higher institutions, especially American ones, are the envy of the rest of the world. We may not think about it, but students near and far have worked tremendously hard to find the means to study here alongside us. So, if you’re thinking about giving up, find satisfaction from what you have accomplished, the friendships you’ve made and the time you’ve invested, because several billions of others can only dream of a similar experience.
Staying motivated in school is not an easy task. However, I think it is important to look at the bigger picture. Finishing school will give you more earning power over your lifetime. Four years really is not that long of a time in the grand scheme of things. If you keep pushing forward, the pieces needed to succeed will fall into place. Of course, life is not always that simple, but a good trait to have is to always finish what you have started. There are also mental health resources available on campus for anyone who needs them, so I would urge everyone to take advantage!
At the moment, my method for staying engaged is a sense of community and a productive atmosphere. This comes in the form of study dates with friends. I’m very social, but I also have a lot on my plate. Study dates give me the opportunity to spend time with some of my favorite people while also getting work done. Another positive aspect of my study dates is if I start getting too sidetracked, my friends motivate me to get back to work, and I do the same for them. We hold each other accountable and make sure we’re staying focused or taking breaks when necessary. I also learn new techniques, get help from fellow peers on assignments that are difficult to understand and get support from people who are going through the same challenging academic experiences as me. Changing the scenery also adds some fun! Sometimes I do my study dates on campus, or I’ll go to a friend’s house. Planning these meetups out offers me the best of both worlds.
It’s not easy having to get up at the crack of dawn to get ready for class, but I do it everyday with a little help! That help comes from a number I have written on all of my mirrors in my room. I have that same figure written in my bathroom, and this number wakes me up faster than any cup of espresso could. That figure … is my tuition. When I see that number, I think of my mom, my future and my past. Seeing my tuition doesn’t put a fear in my heart. Instead, it lights a match under my behind. It motivates me to get to campus and put every penny I am spending to attend school here to use. It’s so easy to forget how much college is really costing you, and most of us take it for granted. Having the opportunity to come to such an amazing university is not something everyone can say they have experienced, so when you feel like sleeping in and missing that class, think about every penny you are spending and you might think twice about hitting that snooze button.
School can be really stressful, and it is easy to want to give up. Exercise is a great outlet to turn to in order to relax and reground yourself. When we’re all stressed out from school, and as such, our muscles become very tense. Exercising and physical activity helps relax our muscles and relieve tension. According to The Help Guide, the body and the mind are very closely linked. When your body feels better, your mind will too. Exercising also helps improve concentration, motivation, memory and mood. When we’re caught up studying, but we can’t completely focus, it seems so unproductive sitting for hours on hours not really learning or accomplishing anything. Physical activity releases endorphins and boosts dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels, which affect our focus and attention. It helps in relieving tension, stress and boosts our physical and mental energy. Exercising can be a lot of things for different people. Creating a routine for yourself can also help keep you engaged. Exercise can help serve as a nice break from school, a distraction or just a nice pick-me-up. It enhances our overall well-being through the release of endorphins.
In my travels, I have seen many great scholars fall to the wayside; the tireless hours spent studying have made their brains into swiss cheese. Instead you can embark on little adventures during breaks or long, restless nights at the library. When you go into the main library, study for a set time. Start your timer. Then, when the timer goes off, order food for yourself to pick up on the way home. For example, I order a peppermint mocha frappuccino fifteen minutes before leaving the library. 600 calories? I don’t know her, check my GPA on your way out. After a long staring contest with your textbook, gather up the gang and walk to grab some (insert your favorite food here). You talk, make merry, discuss current events and feed your brain for more one-on-one time with D2L. Or you can dance! In the streets, on the Mall, rent a study room, who cares? Find a motivational jam that is highly respected among your study group (feel free to try this solo), and crank the volume up and dance for the full length of the song. Afterwards, you’ll feel energized and ready to hit those books! You’re getting sleepy, so, so sleepy. WAKE UP. That chapter is not going to finish itself! Next time you feel drowsy during a study sesh, try doing jumping jacks or squats. It wakes up your body and your brain. So unfurl yourself from the fetal position you’ve found yourself in and take a nap, because we've got a long haul ahead of us.
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