How to Get Motivated to Do Well at School

College admission and the job market are becoming tougher to navigate. While the old saying "C's get degrees" is still true, those grades will hurt your chances of getting into college or getting a job. Remember that good grades are more the result of hard work than intelligence, so getting motivated to study is the first (and most important) step towards academic success!


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    Do your job. If you are a student, it is your job to be a student. In general, students who succeed are most often those who accept the difficult aspects of that fact with a positive attitude.
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    Balance your time. If school is your job, then your job might have weird hours, especially if you are in college. Map out the projects you have and give yourself deadlines for certain segments of each project. Also, give yourself enough time to look over the final product. As you plan, be honest about which courses are more time consuming.
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    Find out how to get what you want. Whether you are in high school or college, figure out what you want to do when you grow up. But don't stop there. Find someone who has what you want and ask for fifteen minutes of their time to find out how she or he did it, even if this someone is a CEO. Prepare questions that address the amount and types of work involved and how the person succeeded. Then, write a thank-you note to that person. This technique is far more beneficial than just trying to get good grades because that is what you are supposed to do. Talking with someone who has achieved your goals allows you to encounter the reality of what it takes to get what you want.
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    Keep track of your grades. If you are in high school, ask your teacher about your grade after class or after school. If you are in college, read your syllabus and find out how your grade is broken down, i.e., how much each test affects the final grade. If attendance is part of your grade, keep track of that too. If participation is part of your grade, ask your professor or TA what adequate participation is and then do more. If you have questions after reading your syllabus, then email your professor.
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    Figure out who grades what. In high school, this one is easy. In college, courses often have a professor and a handful of TAs. The professor lectures, the TA runs discussion sections and grades certain tests and papers. The professor may grade the final, or nothing at all. Professors sometimes communicate poorly with their TAs and often leave it up to them to figure out guidelines for whatever they are grading. Be sure to have clarity on this issue and follow up with each major assignment.
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    Show up. Some states send the police after high school students who are always absent. In college, no one cares. Most college students do poorly when they do not attend class on a regular basis. Often, this does not become a problem until it is too late. Professors or TAs will purposely not review material in order to reward those who have attended regularly. Remember, this is a job. Also, do not get in the habit of having a friend tell you what you missed. Eventually you will be in a class where you do not know a soul, or you will get to grad school without the right level of discipline.
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    Get to know your teacher. If you are in high school or in a college seminar with a couple dozen students, then be cordial and polite. If you are in a college lecture hall with hundreds of other students, act the way you would if you were seeing a play. Drop by your professor's office hours and talk about points from class that interest you, even if these points only interest you somewhat. This same point applies to classes run by a TA, which are usually small. Interacting with your teachers is a form of networking.
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    Honor where you are. Go to class like you would go to a job. Don't browse social media, text, or talk. High school teachers are more likely to call you out on it with little actual punishment. In college, you might be asked to leave or drop the class. You get the respect you give.
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    Participate in class. Again, this all depends on the class size. Large lectures discourage questions, which are meant for the TA in discussion sections. If the class is a seminar with a few dozen students, participation is absolutely necessary. Being vocal in class helps your professor or TA remember you, and even if you ask questions that seem "dumb," it shows them that you are genuinely engaged in the material.
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    Be honest. Teachers have heard every single excuse for why an assignment is late, why you were late, or why some other catastrophe hindered your performance in class. If you miss a deadline, own up to it, admit your mistake, and ask how to fix it.
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    Ask for help. Part of your job as a student is to learn. A lot of learning involves getting direction from people who know more about a topic than you. When you ask for help, you ask to know more about something a person has dedicated his or her life to understanding.
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    Don't beg. Inquire about grades in a professional manner. If you are not satisfied with a grade, ask about it privately during an appointment you made in advance. Ask what you can do next time to avoid making the mistake, or ask if it is possible to redo the assignment. Many professors will give opportunities for extra credit if a student asks about it in a timely manner (not the last class day).
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    Force yourself to be accountable. Join a group or a club that requires a certain GPA. Sports often have minimum GPAs, as do fraternities, sororities, and many internships.


  • Do not be afraid to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help indicates your desire for self-development.
  • If you are working a job while in college, these points are all the more important, because you have two jobs. Be mindful of that fact constantly.
  • Focus on your wellness. Be sure to eat healthy and sleep. In college, this may not always be the easiest thing in the world. It is easier to do if you work to stay aware of your health. Your brain works better when it has nutrients and sleep.
  • Be sure to have fun. Scores of studies have shown that the brain performs better when it is not being worked to death. Even if it's just watching a funny thirty second video online, be sure to do it. Just don't do it a hundred times a day.
  • Study in a group - the best way to learn something is to try to teach it to someone else. Group study also allows students to support each other through stressful times.


  • Be aware of your mental health. Many people do not realize they have issues with anxiety or depression until they are in college. If you find yourself in this position, be sure to seek help.
  • Scholastic dishonesty will haunt you for the rest of your life. People who grew up with computers have begun to populate higher education and most colleges offer seminars on how to detect web-based plagiarism.

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Categories: Improving And Maintaining Grades