How to Create Interest in Studies

Two Parts:Setting the Right AttitudeEstablishing Good Habits

Sometimes, you can lose interest in studies, if it seems like there is too much to do, if you don’t like a subject, or if you just find school boring. Instead of thinking of education as a task, and something you just have to do, why not make the initial (and most important) years of your life more enjoyable? If you focus on creating the right attitude and developing some good habits, you can stay interested in school and succeed.

Part 1
Setting the Right Attitude

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    Identify what interests you naturally. While you may not be the biggest fan of every subject, you probably are interested in at least a few. If you can identify the things that you like learning about, then this can help you become more interested in school in general. When you are naturally drawn to do something (like study a favorite subject), it is called intrinsic motivation, and finding this can increase your success at school.[1]
    • Think about which classes you pay the most attention in, which ones you seem to do the best in, which ones you don't mind studying for, etc. This can indicate which subjects you are naturally interested in.
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    Put classes you don’t like into perspective. If you try, you can become interested in a subject even if you don’t think you like it. Try thinking about the purpose of the classes you are taking, and why you need to take them. This is called finding extrinsic motivation.[2]
    • Think about classes as stepping stones.[3] For instance, if you want to go to college, then you know you need to finish and do well in your high school classes, and this can motivate you to become interested in them.
    • You can even put your courses into a more precise perspective. For instance, if you want to be an engineer but don’t like your algebra teacher, remember that doing well in algebra is just an early step on the path toward achieving your career goal.
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    Relate what you are studying to your daily life. Sometimes, you might lose interest in your studies when you can’t see why a subject is important or relevant to your life outside of school. Understanding some of the fun and interesting ways that school can be relevant can take the boredom and dreariness away. For instance:
    • Knowing the basics of chemistry can improve your cooking.[4]
    • English classes will teach you to understand things like figurative language, rhetoric, and persuasion.[5][6] Knowing this information can help you understand how advertising works when it incorporates things like catchy slogans and sex appeal.
    • History classes can help you understand when popular books, television shows, movies, etc. are based on historical events (and have fun pointing out when they get things wrong). For instance, Game of Thrones echoes medieval duels and the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, while Downton Abbey is a fairly accurate depiction of life on an English manor in the early 20th century (but one shot infamously included a modern-day water bottle in the background by mistake).[7]
    • Math can be used in many practical situations, such as doing taxes, calculating how much paint you need to cover a wall, and figuring out how much interest you’ll pay on a car loan.[8]
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    Examine your beliefs about school. If you are convinced that a subject isn’t fun or useful, or if you are generally not interested in school, think about whether any beliefs are holding you back. If you can identify these negative beliefs and remove them, you are more likely to be motivated for school. For instance:
    • If you aren’t interested in a particular subject, like English, think about if anyone ever told you that you weren’t a good writer. If so, that negative thought doesn’t have to hold you back. Go to your current teacher and explain, and ask him or her about ways to improve.
    • Keep in mind that it’s not only your teacher’s responsibility to keep you motivated for school. Even if you think you have a bad teacher, remember that you can take charge of your learning and decide what you want to be interested in.
    • If you feel like a certain subject just isn’t interesting, talk to friends who like it, and see if they can explain to you why they find it fun.
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    Identify stresses. While a lack of interest or academic difficulties in a certain subject might cause you to lose interest in school, other common stress factors can do the same. These may include worrying about your appearance, social issues, bullying, etc.[9] If you are having problems in an area like one of these, talk to a parent, counselor, teacher, friend, or other person you trust about getting help. If you can reduce your stress, you are more likely to be interested in your studies.
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    Don’t be overly competitive. Some amount of friendly competition can be fun and a motivation to learn. However, too much competition produces anxiety, which can take away from learning. Focus on doing well for yourself and to achieve your goals.
    • Try to be competitive only when it is fun and makes you interested in school, such as working on a science fair project or quiz bowl.
    • You don’t have to be the best in everything. Set your own realistic goals, and don’t worry too much about what others are doing. If you want to earn a certain grade on a test, for example, work hard to achieve it and don’t worry about who earns a higher score.
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    Write down what you do and don't like. Sometimes, getting things out on paper can help you figure out how to make yourself more interested in your studies. Take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the one side, write "Things I Don't Like," and on the other side, write "Things I Like."[10]
    • Write down everything you don't like about school. Try to be as detailed as possible. Rather than saying, "School sucks and it's stupid," try saying something like "I feel embarrassed when the teacher asks me a question and I don't know the answer."
    • Write down everything you like about school. This part can be a challenge, but try hard to find some stuff to put here. Chances are, there is something you enjoy about school, even if it's only hanging with your friends at recess.
    • Look at your list. What can you do about the things you don't like? For example, if you feel scared of not having an answer when the teacher calls on you, you could try preparing a question to ask before class and raising your hand before the teacher can call on you. That way, you know you have something to say and the pressure is off.
    • What can you do to increase the things you do like? For example, if you are a computer whiz, maybe you could ask for extra time on the computers at school, or to do some of your homework on a computer instead of by hand.
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    Talk to your parents, family, and friends about school. When you have a support group of people who care about you and want you to do well in school, you are more likely to be interested in it. Talking about what you are learning about and doing in school keeps it on your mind in a positive way. Your parents, family, and friends can be great listeners.[11]
    • If your parents or family ask you about school, remember that they’re not trying to bug you. Instead, they’re showing interest in what you do, and you’ll feel good if you talk about with them.
    • Don’t be afraid to talk about problems or difficulties you’re having in school, either. A good support group will be sympathetic and try to help you.

Part 2
Establishing Good Habits

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    Establish a set routine. If you fall behind in your schoolwork, or don’t set aside enough time to do your homework, it can create all sorts of problems that can drag you down. On the other hand, if you set aside specific times each day to study or do your homework, you’ll stay on top of things and be more likely to be interested in your studies. Plus, you’ll feel great about accomplishing what you need to do!
    • Keep a running list of the things you need to do for school, such as in a course planner. This will help you keep track of things. Crossing tasks off as you finish them will help you feel accomplished and stay motivated.
    • Try to find a quiet, distraction-free place to work.
    • Make yourself take care of schoolwork before spending time on the computer, watching TV, playing games, etc. This might seem hard at first, but if you get in the habit of taking care of what you need to first, you’ll ultimately have more time to spend on other things you enjoy.
    • If you have a lot of work to do, remember to schedule short breaks. For instance, if you are going to be studying for several hours, remember to take a break (five minutes or so) every hour to clear your head, walk around, get a snack, etc.
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    Prioritize your school tasks. Focus on doing high-impact activities (those that are most important or interesting) first.[12] This will help you build momentum and stay interested in your studies. For instance:
    • If you have a big exam coming up that counts for a large percentage of your grade, studying for that might come before proofreading an essay you’ve already written for another class.
    • If you have a chapter to read for a history class that you really enjoy, you could start with that before moving on to math homework, if you enjoy it less. Alternatively, you could do the math homework first if it is more important, and use wanting to reading the chapter for history as a motivator to get it out of the way.
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    Break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.[13] If you have a big project or exam to study for, it can seem daunting, and make you lose motivation and interest. However, if you break the task down into smaller parts, you will feel like you are accomplishing something and stay interested.
    • For instance, if you have a biology exam coming up that covers 5 chapters of your textbook, don’t try to study them at once. Instead, study a chapter or half of a chapter each day leading up to the exam. You’ll feel good about the progress you make each day.
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    Look for ways to create variety in your schoolwork. If you feel bored with the schoolwork you are doing, remember that you may not always have to do things in the same way. A little variety will keep things interesting. For instance:
    • If you have to write a book report each month, and you have been writing on autobiographies, perhaps try writing on a novel next month.[14]
    • Instead of writing yet another essay in your U.S. history class, see if your teacher will let you make a recording in the style of an old-time radio news show. You could even make a series of podcasts instead of a series of essays.[15]
    • Instead of just reading Shakespeare aloud in your English class, see if you can perform a scene, record it, and share it online on a video streaming site for others to enjoy and comment on.[16]
    • You could practice your geometry studies by building a scale model of a famous building or other object.
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    Study with friends. Being part of a group of people all working on the same thing can be a motivator to get schoolwork done; you can quiz each other, help each other out on difficult problems or topics, etc.[17] If you want to study with friends, however, make sure that everyone stays on task and doesn’t get distracted.
    • You can form a study group where everyone signs a pledge to work hard, stay on task, and help each other out. When you don’t feel like you’re alone, you’re more likely to stay interested and motivated.
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    Ask for feedback. If you are struggling in school, or just want to know how you are doing, ask your teachers for feedback. You can meet with them, and get help with a specific assignment or ask for general feedback.[18] Most teachers are glad to help, and talking informally about your schoolwork can help you feel more at ease in school and stay interested in your studies.
    • Don’t be afraid to tell your teacher if there is a problem in class. For instance, if you feel like a teacher calls on you too often, talk to him or her about it. Most teachers will be happy to hear your concerns and to help you do well.
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    Ask your teachers to let you take part in learning and planning. You’ll be more interested and care more about your studies if you’re invested in them. Your teachers might be willing to incorporate ideas you have for learning or structuring lessons to make them interesting. Let them know about your learning style, and the things you find interesting, such as:
    • Variety in assignment type
    • Enthusiastic lectures
    • Opportunities to choose what you want to work on
    • Having good examples to learn from
    • Learning from games (like “Jeopardy”-type quizzes)
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    Reward yourself for your effort and successes.[19] When you try hard, do well in school, or achieve a goal, see if there is someway to reward yourself. While you might not want to make tangible rewards be your primary motivation for doing well in school, a reward now and then can keep you interested in your studies. For instance:
    • Let yourself play a favorite video game after you’ve finished all of your homework.
    • Ask your parents if you can go out to a favorite restaurant if you do well on a big exam, or get good grades at the end of a semester.
    • If you complete all of your assignments and don’t have any big projects coming up, let yourself have a weekend to spend just doing things for fun, like hanging out with friends, going for a walk, or watching a favorite TV show.

Sources and Citations

  1. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/motivating-students/
  2. https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/motivating-students/
  3. http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/school/teacher_relationships.html#
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