How to Stay Motivated in Business School: Advice from a First-Generation College Student

Courtney Kohler always knew she wanted to go to college and study business. But when it came to submitting materials during the application process, and even once she was on campus and working through classes, she found herself facing a challenge that is all too familiar for many college students: lack of motivation.

Maybe your courses this semester are just a little too challenging and you’re struggling to keep up. Or maybe you just started a new internship and would rather put your energy towards that instead of taking extra time to study. It’s possible, too, that as the semester goes on you’re just feeling more tired and are struggling to keep up with sleep and self-care.

Whatever the reason, though, you’re definitely not alone! Just about every college student will feel unmotivated at some point, and will need some strategies to keep going.

Courtney mentions that for first-generation college students, there are some specific factors that can lead to lack of motivation. She says, “​​I think it is very easy for students to feel overwhelmed and become unmotivated when they are faced with a situation where they feel underprepared.”

Here are 3 strategies Courtney used when she was feeling unmotivated:

  1. Search for Resources

For Courtney, identifying helpful on-campus resources was crucial to staying motivated. SHe says, “There will be times when you might feel unmotivated, intimidated, or out of place but there are many resources you can utilize to help you.” Courney recommends looking at the resources available to UMass as a whole, as well as the Isenberg website, and she recommends utilizing the Chase Career Center. “UMass has a ton of amazing resources and I made sure to utilize all of the ones I needed.”

2. Find Mentors

Having someone with an outside perspective who is also an expert on a certain topic or who knows the university is a great way to get motivated when times are tough. When working through a challenge, Courtney would seek “strong connections with professors that could help me in these situations and serve as mentors to me.” Courtney also says, “I made it a priority to connect with professors and counselors so they could help guide me in the right direction for my education and career path. I set myself up for success and I surrounded myself with great mentors.”

3. Start Networking

Building a strong network of peers who can support and challenge you during your time at Isenberg not only helps you to build community, it will also help you to maintain your motivation! But where do you begin? Courtney admits, “At first it was not easy to be as confident as I am now,” but she knew she needed to start somewhere. Courtney attended information sessions to learn about the various Isenberg academic programs, and joined a number of clubs to meet more people. “I surrounded myself with great friends who I met in Isenberg who supported me and helped me.”

Your experience as a first-generation college student might come with its own set of challenges, but as Courtney says, “Staying positive and staying motivated is extremely important! There will be times when you might feel unmotivated, intimidated, or out of place, but there are many resources you can utilize to help you.”

Equally as important as identifying potential challenges, though, is recognizing that as a first-generation college student, you’re also bringing a unique perspective and valuable experiences. Celebrating your hard work and realizing how much you have to be proud of can also be a way to stay motivated. Courtney’s last piece of advice: “Most importantly, acknowledge all of your accomplishments associated with being a first-generation college student!”

By Mary [uConnect]
Mary [uConnect] Customer Success Manager