How can I improve my university marks for honours and stay motivated?
September 9, 2016 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm just finishing up my final third year of university and would like to follow the honours path instead of a third year pass degree. I'm mostly a B student (70-75 marks range). I only have a few marks in the 80s range. My question is: How can I motivate myself to get high marks and stay on top of my class readings?

I have a difficult time staying motivated and achieve great marks in university. How can I improve my grades to make it into the honours stream? What are some golden nugget tips for students? Especially for assigned readings, studying for tests, thinking critically, and overall staying motivated and being efficient with time management. I slacked off last year due to an academic burnt-out and depression. I know procrastination is a killer with many students. I would like to get back in on top of things and succeed well, so I can apply for an MFA and MA afterwards. From an existential and philosophical standpoint, grades agre meaningless to me, but that is how our manufactured education is built ulpon now. I reailly would like to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies afterwards to gain more skills and a CO-OP.

TL;DR How can I improve my grades for high marks to make the honour roll.

posted by RearWindow to Education (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This might sound stupid obvious, but for me it was really helpful. When I would have trouble working on something important, I'd worry about getting in the right mindset. But that would just be a big distraction or rationalization to procrastinate. It's difficult to "feel like" doing work, so the trick is getting started and building up momentum. Taking good steps for your mental health, like keeping your home and workspace clean and organized or self-care, are important and help with motivation, but mood is only one factor.

For me personally, I best get started by breaking down the task into parts and focusing on what unambiguously needs to get done, regardless of what choices I need to make. Decision-making early on makes it easy to get sidetracked. Thinking about choices takes energy and makes you anxious, so you'll get discouraged or let yourself get distracted.

If you want a concrete suggestion, I'd say make a simple to-do list. Put three or four very specific things on it and set a timer for eight minutes. If you find yourself struggling to focus after eight minutes of consistently working, pick some different tasks for the list. Once I can work eight minutes without getting distracted, I find I have enough momentum to be really productive.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:56 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I highly recommend the study strategy suggested by Ze Frank in this video.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:21 PM on September 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Do you use all the help your university provides? Do you go to office hours, and use the writing centre? You may find it helpful to talk to your course tutor about your aspirations for honours stream and what they think you need to focus on to get better mark. Objective feedback and really solid writing skills can make a huge difference both in the quality of what you produce and your motivation. (Plus all the other study strategies people suggest.)
posted by plonkee at 1:21 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

What country are you in, and where do you intend to go for your 2nd degree? You refer to "marks" (british term), and "honours" (british spelling) which implies this country.......advice that follows this q is going to be pretty country-dependent.

This is somewhat humorous, but relevant for your potential transition to graduate school if going to another country.......
posted by lalochezia at 6:17 AM on September 10, 2016

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