Students Struggle with Motivation as the Year Progresses

Many students are finding it hard to continue to stay motivated and focused with the chaos of the year.

Olivia Daly, H&W Page Director

School without the added concern of a global pandemic is hard enough. Now, COVID-19  is causing additional stress, anxiety, and depression in students’ lives, resulting in decreased work ethic and lower grades. “I want to do well in school,” comments Madison Dircks (‘22), “but I don’t have the energy to do my best on everything.” The change in Mamaroneck High School’s daily schedule may be contributing in part to this.

This year, students attend all eight of their classes each day for forty minutes per class. In previous years, the schedule was varied, but students typically attended six classes a day for fifty-two minutes each. Many students report that the additional classes per day have led to increased workload and decreased learning time. Instead of spending time focusing on one subject, students have to divide their attention. At a time where students and teachers alike are trying to adapt to challenges caused by the pandemic, extra obstacles such as a schedule change are not helping. 

On top of the draining schedule change, with all the activities students are missing out on this year, it can seem like there’s nothing to look forward to, leading to decreased motivation. In Dr. Todd Braver’s book, Motivation and Cognitive Control, he writes that motivation affects the way one learns, processes, and understands new information. Feeling unmotivated to study and focus in class can hurt one’s grades and comprehension of the subject. Without motivation, doing well in school can become a challenge. 

So how does one regain their motivation? Psychologist Daniel Goleman says “doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout.” Taking time every day to do something one is passionate about can help to reinspire and remotivate oneself. The New York Times recommends dividing goals into smaller goals, so that they aren’t too big or small to get bored of and abandon. This can be applied to the way students study and do their school work. Dividing up one’s assignments into manageable tasks, and taking breaks in between to reward oneself, could be key to getting through one’s work without feeling overwhelmed. This strategy could help get one’s motivation back, effectively manage time, and help avoid procrastination. 

While low grades and decreased work ethic may have harmed students’ first quarter grades, it’s not too late to turn them around. Students need to set aside time to study and do homework without distractions. Keeping up motivation for the rest of the year may prove difficult, but it is a necessary step if one wants to succeed in school, especially with this year’s additional classes.