Motivation, or the enthusiasm to continue doing well, does not
apply only to work, but to your studies too. To be motivated, you
have to first understand these barriers, and then the strategies
to overcome them.
Time Wasters, such as going out with friends
and watching TV or the movies. These appear to be so attractive
when you’re at your books. But reading anything can also
be pleasurable and enjoyable. So displace these short-term transitory
goals with long-term and lasting ones (e.g. career success and
joy at a future point in time). Incessantly couched before a
TV also has ill effects. Do some serious study, assignment or
project for 2–3 hours, and then reward yourself with a
Difficulty with subjects. When you encounter
difficulties in a subject, ask a close friend who knows the
solution; or ask different people at different times. Your lecturer
or tutor will also be most willing to help. Sometimes, you may
turn to the additional references cited in your lecture notes
to understand a portion or chapter better. Alternate between
difficult and easy chapters or projects to read or do, to ease
the strain and refresh your concentration.
Inconsistent (extremely opposite) grades.
Ask yourself, “What kind of grades do I want? Why am I
not there?” You may have lost marks because of errors.
Or your friends may have given better answers. If it is due
to poor time management, work out and follow a schedule. Give
more time for weaker subjects, not just for your favourite ones.
Learning from failures. If you’re disheartened
with a recent failure or weak grade, ask yourself: “Where
did I fail? Why?” Try the same paper again. If you find
it easy, then you’ve learnt and improved. Your failure
can be a blessing and strengthen you.
Seeking help. You may find good sources of
help within your family or from close friends, top students
(even though you don’t know them), lecturers and university
counsellors (please consult the Office of Student Affairs’
Personal Guidance and Counselling Service at http://www.nus.edu.sg/osa/guidance/
or 6874 2376). Or check out CDTL’s website containing
learning resources for students at http://www.cdtl.nus.edu.sg/cdtlhome/student.htm.
Role models. Especially after the major local
exams, the media frequently highlight students who excel in
their studies despite their unfortunate circumstances (often
worse than yours!). Ask yourself: “How did they do it?
Why can’t I do better than they did?” Also, look
at your lecturers and the authors of your textbooks. Ask yourself,
“How did they manage their difficulties, and what made
them specialise in these subjects that I find so difficult?”
You are not alone in your struggle. Remember, success comes
at a high price of diligence, determination and sacrifice. But
understand your limits, and don’t go overboard.
Your struggle to do well is an investment of time, with career
success and satisfaction as potential rewards. Look at the people
you consider successful. They are all around you. Tell yourself
that you can be what they are or even better, if you push yourself
to your limits.
Your career path is like a flight of steps. To reach the top,
take one step at a time. Getting your degree is one big step in