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Finding the Motivation to Complete a Graduate Degree

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Graduate Studies

            Many people choose to pursue a graduate degree, however, the journey comes with many significant challenges. When you become burnt out and the deadlines just keep coming, you might start to wonder if you should just quit. While there is no shame in recognizing when you need to take a break or step away from school entirely, there are also steps you can take to recharge and stay motivated. Here are some tips for staying motivated when grad school becomes difficult to manage.

  1. Communicate with your professors: Many professors are willing to work with students to ensure they are able to succeed. Many graduate programs are designed to be more flexible than undergraduate programs because many grad students also work full-time while earning their degree. If your coursework becomes overwhelming or unattainable, talk with your professors to make them aware of your situation and to work out a solution. Professors at Geneva College are known for their personal investment in their students’ lives. Don’t suffer in silence. If you are struggling, talk to your professors, because then you can receive the support you need.
  2. Develop a support system with your classmates: Your classmates understand what grad school is like, because they are going through it with you. It can be helpful to remember that you are not in this alone. Kelli McKee is a student in Geneva’s Master’s in Higher Education program. She admits, “Honestly, [grad school is] really hard. I have wanted to quit many times. However, having a solid support system is key to success in a graduate studies program.” It is immeasurably valuable to develop a support system with your classmates so that you can keep each other accountable and lift each other up.
  3. Maintain a balance between school and life: Grad school is difficult enough on its own, but students also have to balance work, family, and a social life. Remember that grad school is not a race, and you should take it at a pace that is feasible for you. Mark Britton is a student in Geneva’s Master’s in Counseling program, and he believes, “Staying positive and remaining focused on the short-term and long-term goals is very important.” It can be difficult to maintain a balance between school, work, and life, but it can be easier when you focus on your goals and work at a manageable pace. If you try to take on too much schoolwork, other areas of your life may begin to suffer, so do your best to maintain a healthy balance and work at a reasonable pace.
  4. Stay Healthy: When life becomes busy and stressful, healthy habits can sometimes be forgotten. However, staying healthy is one of the best ways to combat stress and burnout. Even though you may feel overwhelmed, try to take the time to get enough sleep, eat three meals a day, and stay active. In addition to physical health, it is valuable to be aware of your mental health and find time to engage in activities that bring you peace, such as meditation, jor journaling. In the midst of your many priorities, it is important to remember to take care of yourself. You may even find that your schoolwork is more manageable when you are well-rested and at peace.
  5. Talk to God: In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul advises readers, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you are struggling with your grad school experience turn to God. If you are considering dropping out of grad school, pray about it first, because God can provide you with guidance for your next steps. Prayer can be a valuable tool for anyone lacking motivation, so turn to God with any stress and worries you may be carrying.

Grad school will come with many challenges, but many people would say that it is absolutely worth it. Kelli McKee provides this encouragement, “Don’t underestimate yourself. You can do this! Don’t give up on yourself. You are capable of far more than you give yourself credit for!” It is okay to struggle, and it is also okay to decide that grad school isn’t for you, but before you choose to drop out, take the steps to try to rebuild your motivation.


Mattigan Burleigh '24

Opinions expressed in the Geneva Blog are those of its contributors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official position of the College. The Geneva Blog is a place for faculty and contributing writers to express points of view, academic insights, and contribute to national conversations to spark thought, conversation, and the pursuit of truth, in line with our philosophy as a Christian, liberal arts institution.

Nov 26, 2016

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