How To Become A Good Student/Chapter 1 - Motivation

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Motivation Is the Basic Step[edit]

It has been said that to get the required performance out of an individual, you must first discover what motivates them. Motivation drives individuals to act. Why do you watch television instead of reading a book? Why drive one block when you can walk? The answers to these questions vary from individual to individual—and all are correct. They reveal each person's motivation for handling the specific situations mentioned.

How does this relate to being a good student? Simple. You must look within yourself to discover a reason for becoming a better student. Nobody will provide you the answer. It is an individual decision that must be made. Once you discover your motivation, you will have taken the first step.

Ways To Obtain Motivation[edit]

The ways I know to obtain motivation are:

Hope to obtain motivation[edit]

Motivating yourself to be motivated will motivate you. That seems a little redundant, but you must start somewhere. A belief that you have what it takes will pep you up and propel you. From the first step to the next and so on, always taking a pride in the few steps climbed will motivate and lead you further and further.

Force yourself to concentrate[edit]

Concentration plays a big role in motivation. It will be discussed in the next chapter.

Make good deeds a part of your routine[edit]

It can be like quitting smoking, or volunteering at a nursing home. Doing something good for yourself or others will help you be motivated. The most important part of motivation is FOCUS. You have to stay focused. Understand why you are at that college, and not on the beach surfing or skiing. You want to be that "Doctor", "Engineer" or whatever. The point here is to get that piece of paper that says "You're what you really want to be".

Relaxation[edit]

Relaxation seems like the opposite of what you need to do to be motivated, but this is untrue. Being relaxed makes it easy to become motivated without being stressed out. Think of your relaxation in terms of a health bar in a video game: if it gets too low, you are in danger of dying (meaning being too stressed out, causing you to lose motivation).

Curiosity[edit]

Some people naturally have a thirst for knowledge. They may enjoy reading random articles on Wikipedia in their spare time, or reading books, or doing projects. Try to take these practices and apply them to your studies.

Do what you like[edit]

You don't need to motivate yourself to do something you really like. You don't have to motivate yourself to eat that chocolate bar when you are on a diet. Therefore, try to study things you like as much as possible, or at least try to make it interesting for yourself. You may also try to read some self-help books; these are encouraging tools to motivate yourself.

Losing Your Motivation[edit]

Most people have been in a situation where they would have worked, studied, or read a book, but they do not want to do it under certain circumstances. Imagine, for example, that you are writing an essay for a contest. You like to write essays, and you are interested in the topic. But then you learn that the contest is actually rejecting most of the entries without reading them. There is a good chance that they won't read yours. This might kill your motivation.

The sad part of it is that the process of writing is the most beneficial part of the essay contest. If you won, you would get an award, but you would not be any better a writer than if you lost. Writing the essay, showing it to your peers, teachers and parents, and polishing it, are the important activities. It is through writing that you become a better writer.

Unfortunately, in our example, you have been subjected to injustice, and that can occupy your mind and block you from writing. Many other influences can affect your motivation.

Your Teacher Dislikes You[edit]

It is hard not to get the feeling that you are doing your school work to impress your teacher. In English class, sometimes the teacher will love (and give good marks on) an essay that you find insipid, nonsensical or wrong headed. There is no way that you can always write an essay that every teacher will love. Every English student runs into this problem eventually, because English teachers are not always the same. Grading is subjective and you have to put up with it.

Instead of impressing your teacher, try to write solid essays. Try to define "quality" as something that is not dependent on the teacher. Set a goal for yourself to write an essay of the highest "quality" that you are capable of, and then when you are done, discuss with your peers, parents and teachers what you did. This discussion with your teacher will show the teacher that you are really serious about what you are doing, and you will probably gain higher marks. More importantly, you will satisfy your own desire to do worthwhile work. Each time you write, refine your definition of "quality" so you have a new goal.

The Subject Is Boring[edit]

Your teacher has given you an assignment: plot 10 representative points on standard graph paper for 20 different mathematical equations. Draw a "fit" line for each one. Make sure the graphs are properly labeled.

Even if you are a math wizard, assignments like this can be boring. The repetitiveness may really bother you. It could be hard to see the "real-world" purpose of the assignment. You might suspect that the teacher assigned the project because it is an easy way to separate "workers" from "slackers" to assign grades.

The first thing you should do is catch up on all your other homework. Tell someone that you are leaving this assignment for later because you don't want it to ruin your motivation. Ask that person to make sure you do the assignment before it's due.

When it comes time to do the boring work, you should be able to hammer through it with the expectation of great relief when you're done. Then, write an article in the school newspaper or a letter to your congressman about how you dislike these assignments.

You Are In Over Your Head[edit]

Sometimes you will get stuck while you are working on a tough assignment in a challenging class. It is very important to let someone know that you may be in over your head. You may feel a desire to do something easy and fun, like play a video game or watch TV, instead of working on the assignment and reminding yourself that you are not up to the task.

Ideally, you will not be given an assignment you are truly incapable of finishing. If you do not have a breakthrough in a reasonable amount of time, you need to alert the teacher that you are going to fail. A decent teacher will help you work through your mental blockage. If you are a university student, you may need tutoring or you may want to "audit" the class one time through before you take it for real. If you are in high school, you might need to stay after school or find a suitable tutor. Perhaps you should step down a level and take the weight off of your shoulders. Advanced classes make school interesting for people who would be bored by a slower pace. If you are in over your head, you need to slow down and really learn it.

In any event, you will cause much greater damage to yourself if you fail a class or get a low grade. The American GPA system is unforgiving. You cannot gain points like you lose points. Nobody cares about valiant, failing efforts at tough classes. If you are in over your head in high school, find shallower water by changing your level. In university, get out of the pool by dropping the class.

Loss and Illness[edit]

There is no insurance against loss and illness in the school system. If someone close to you dies or you get meningitis, you will probably lose your motivation, and it may happen at a bad time. You will probably not learn the material and you will not do well on exams. Ask someone to begin to negotiate an escape strategy for you. In high school, you may want to repeat a year. They will discourage it, but it is your prerogative and they are obliged to school you until you are 21. In college, find out if they can cancel your grades for the semester. Bad grades are hard to explain away, but canceled grades are easily explained by naming the event that caused you to cancel them. They also do not affect the all-important GPA.