Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University home

How to Keep Motivated When You're on Your Last Leg

January 25, 2019

This is it.

You’re here.

You’re finally here.

It’s your last semester until you graduate but you seemed to have developed a collegiate version of “senioritis” where you’re on the verge of completing your education so you can move on with your next phase of life. And you’re antsy and simultaneously demotivated.

So how does one remain motivated when they’re finishing the last leg of their college marathon?

Step One: is to remember why you’re in school. Why are you here? What are your goals? Have they changed since you started? Remembering these can help you remember what got you here in the first place and can help you keep focused on those goals. Take time to reevaluate often and adjust your courses and thoughts as needed. If something changes and you decide to change direction in your life, don’t be afraid to do that. You have a lifetime to discover yourself and if you decide to change your degree after two years, then that’s okay.

Step Two: Don’t be afraid of the coursework or courses. Time management can help cut down the sometimes daunting task of homework and projects into manageable chunks that make them less scary. Make sure you take breaks and time for yourself though because if you push too hard, you can overtax yourself and mental health is an extremely important thing. Many students will overtax themselves, especially graduates, but it isn’t healthy to do that and it can actually make you lose motivation faster than if you weren’t to take the time for yourself.

Step Three: Set goals for yourself and celebrate when you reach them. This may seem insignificant but it can really help keep up your motivation. If you know ahead of time that you have big projects or papers due, break them down so you won’t be overwhelmed by the end. Every time you reach one of these goals, be sure to reward yourself with leisure time or with something you enjoy. For example, if you finish the first two paragraphs of your major research paper or study for an hour, go out to dinner or dessert with friends or watch an episode of your favorite show. This will make your brain react positively so that you can stay motivated to get it done. And if it comes down to it, use the reward to incentivize yourself. That’s how I’ve gotten through many projects and how I’ve helped my husband get through writing his papers.

Step Four: Think about the big picture. Master of Accountancy student Corinne Brown, who will be graduating in August, says “Just realize that your education is an investment of time and money right now... if you put in the effort, in the future, the investment is going to pay off”. Once graduating, Brown will be moving to Eugene, Oregon where she’s looking forward to having her first full-time job at Moss Adams.

Step Five: Look for jobs while you’re still attending school. It can be even more daunting to finish school when there aren’t any prospects at the end of the road so looking for and finding potential employers before you graduate can help you keep your eye on the ball. If you already have a job lined up, it’s still important to keep focused because having a strong finish, can prove to your employer that it was a good decision to hire you. When you have that end goal in mind, it can be easier to keep going and finish it up. Without this, you might be tempted to slack off because it may not seem that important. But it is important, not just to yourself but to anybody that may employ you in the future.

Step Six: In addition to having your job lined up (the whole reason you went to school in the first place) have a big reward that you can look forward to as well. If you can, at the end when you graduate, plan a trip or a weekend that is just for you. You do what you want to do. Take a roadtrip to California, stay on the Oregon Coast for a couple of days, or even just stay home, book a spa day for yourself and treat yourself to dinner, either on your own or with your favorite people. Whatever it is, reward yourself with something big at the end because you earned it.

The future can be daunting and it can be easy to lose motivation during the end of your degree, especially as a graduate student. But the reward will be well worth the effort as you can be rewarded with a lifetime of financial security and skills that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.