Seven Motivation Tips for Graduate School Students

Learn how to stay motivated in grad school, law school or medical school

While you likely dealt with stress as an undergraduate, grad school students often contend with significantly increased workloads and additional student debt, both of which can contribute to mental fatigue. In light of this, it’s important to learn some tips for staying motivated while you work toward your graduate degree. Check out our guide on how to stay motivated in grad school for tips and suggestions you can take advantage of while moving forward in your academic career.

Motivation tips for staying focused, happy and healthy in grad school

  • Strike a balance between work and school: Juggling school and work may be necessary to live comfortably or gain experience in your chosen field. If possible, staying motivated may be easier if you combine work and study through on-campus options such as tutoring or working as a teaching assistant. Additionally, you could look for summer jobs or internships that provide experience or credits and align with your interests. If you will be working for your existing employer while going back to school, meet with your boss to level-set any adjusted expectations based on your studies. You may also want to create a class schedule that reduces the days you have to miss work.

  • Take breaks and avoid late nights: Studying similar material every day for hours at a time can lead to mental exhaustion or burnout. Though you may feel like there is an endless amount of material to keep up with, one of the best ways of staying motivated is to take regular breaks from schoolwork and limit late-night study sessions when possible. Put the effective time management skills you developed as an undergrad to use and create a schedule of upcoming exams, projects or any time-intensive assignments well ahead of time. This way, you can spread your studying over a longer period of time rather than cramming at the last minute.

  • Maintain a regular schedule whenever possible: Another motivation tip is to set a daily routine and stick to it. Following a schedule is also a great way to combat burnout if you factor in (and follow through on) a set amount of time for meals and breaks. Exercise can also be an effective stress-reliever, and a welcome break from studying. Don't be afraid to change it up a little if your routine gets a bit too mundane - take an afternoon trip to the zoo, go on a hike, or see a movie with friends.

  • Practice proactive stress management techniques: Stress management is an important skill to develop in grad school, but the best way to manage stress is to stop it before it starts. If you’re having trouble staying motivated in grad school, look at your day-to-day schedule. Sleeping and eating well, planning ahead, prioritizing your time and avoiding procrastination are all effective ways to cope with academic demands and avoid stress. For more information, check out UC Berkley's guide to dealing with graduate school stress.

  • Manage your extra money wisely: There may be stressors in your life you have not considered before that could be enhanced by going back to school. Maintaining your finances is a great way to stay motivated, as it helps to eliminate a common source of stress. To keep student debt under control, it's good practice to use any funds left over after tuition and living expenses have been managed to make payments toward the principal on your student loans while they are still in deferment. This way, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re reducing your debt obligations before you even graduate.

  • Explore options for lowering student loan payments after graduation: Your main focus right now should be school, but if you’re concerned about your student loan interest rates, talk to your lender about your options. Some lenders offer ways to reduce rates once you begin repayment. After you graduate and start paying off student loans, you may be able to refinance for a lower interest rate. If you’re curious about student loan refinance and would like to learn more about the Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan®, speak with one of our Student Lending Specialists.

Learn more about financing a grad school education with options from Citizens Bank

When you’re pursuing an advanced degree, staying motivated, happy and healthy are key to achieving academic success. If you need help covering the cost of a master’s or doctorate, Citizens Bank can help with graduate student loans for law, MBA, medical and dental students. To learn more about student borrowing or refinancing your loans, speak with one of our Student Lending Specialists today.

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