“How to Stay Motivated in College with ADHD: Tips for a Strong Semester”

For most college students, motivation soars at the start of each new semester. But as assignments, tests, and obligations pile on, motivation wanes and threatens to fizzle out entirely.

To stay motivated in college, it’s important to continuously connect your obligations to your values and to the bigger picture. You must also establish systems to help you maintain steady drive through the beginning, middle, and end of each college semester. Here is one way to do that:

1. Start with your values

Every semester, you’re likely enrolled in courses that spark your interest — and courses that don’t. Motivation may happen naturally for classes that align with your personal and professional interests, but what about the rest? Boost your motivation across the board with a few reflective questions that aim to connect your courses to your values.

  • What’s important to me?
  • What would a great day as a student look like?
  • What is interesting to me about my courses? How do they connect to what’s important to me?
  • What do I want to get out of my courses (besides a good grade)? This is an especially important question for courses that provoke boredom, unease, or even dread. Connecting the course to something you value can make the difference between dragging yourself through the course and stretching yourself in a way that builds experience and confidence.

[Read: 13 Survival Tips from College Graduates with ADHD]

2. Set up an organization system

Problems with motivation, including procrastination, often occur when we’re unclear about the task(s) in front of us. You’ll find it easier to stay motivated and reduce overwhelm if you have a clear picture of what’s required of you and if you set up a plan to hit all your goals in each course.

  • Review the syllabus and online info for each of your courses as soon as they become available. Order any books you need. See if any assignments are due the first day of class.
  • Set up your personal online calendar with class times and major deadlines for the semester.
  • Be sure to incorporate study and self-care time in your calendar. Click here for more tips to reduce stress and stay organized in college.

3. Set up a support system

Lean on others — including your school — to help keep you accountable through the semester and actively engaged in learning, even when your motivation dips.

[Read: How to Succeed in College with ADHD — Evidence-Based Strategies That Work]

  • Is there a parent or adult in your life who would love to hear more about your experience at college? Enlist them as a partner to whom you can speak periodically about what you’re learning in your courses. Use these conversations to see the big picture and connect your studies to your values and goals.
  • Join a study group or schedule regular study sessions with a classmate.
  • Use your school’s resources.
    • Commit to checking out the writing or study center. Schedule an appointment early in the semester and bring in any assignment, even if you don’t need too much help with it. The point is to become familiar with the resource so you can take advantage of it when you’re facing a challenging assignment or a bout of procrastination.
    • If a teaching assistant holds a review session, go to it. If your professor offers office hours, schedule a meeting, and prepare some questions or reflections from the class to discuss.

Throughout the semester, take some time to check in with yourself at the end of each week. Ask yourself: What’s working? What do I want to keep doing? What do I want to change? Keeping track of your progress in this way will help you stay motivated and get the most out of your semester.

How to Stay Motivated in College: Next Steps

Since 1998, ADDitude has worked to provide ADHD education and guidance through webinars, newsletters, community engagement, and its groundbreaking magazine. To support ADDitude’s mission, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.

Leave a comment
Stay up to date
Register now to get updates on promotions and coupons.

Shopping cart