Dear Zoe, 

How do I stay motivated to do my readings for class, even when my professor doesn’t discuss them later on? -John

This is such a struggle for me too, John. I understand how hard it is to get a huge pile of homework done consistently each night, especially if it seems like I can get away with not reading it. My first suggestion is to break up readings and homework. It’s perfectly okay to do half of a reading and come back to it later. It can help you get into a new frame of mind. You can also skim it quickly and highlight important parts, then review those parts later on. Right now I have one MWF class and three TTH classes. I do my best to get two classes’ work done each night so that it doesn’t pile up. Working on homework with my friends helps me to stay motivated, too. Getting a study group together is a great way to hold yourself and each other accountable. Take turns choosing study spots around campus to keep the scenery fresh. 

A third  recommendation I have is to come up with a way to reward yourself after accomplishing a task or goal. Maybe treat yourself to a drink from cafe Roy or Allegro. If coffee isn’t your thing, find what works best for you and your needs. No matter how hard it is to get all of your homework done, it’s genuinely really important to do. Completing homework assignments will help you during class discussions and tests, even if it isn’t immediately discussed. Each reading or assignment should also build on each other throughout the semester, and missing a couple of those building blocks can be a really big issue down the road. 

Dear Zoe,

How do I stay focused during class? My mind is so busy with everything I have going on. I can't figure out how to pay attention especially when my professor or classmates talk for a long time. Sometimes I find myself daydreaming and I don't even know what we're talking about. -Tiff

Hey Tiff! I totally feel you on how your mind is all over the place. Most DePauw students are super involved on campus, and while that makes for a vibrant community, it also makes DPU students very stressed out. In order to stay present in class I try to take notes in a way that is somewhat fun or entertaining. If paper and pen notes are what you prefer, use fun colors, stickers, tape, etc. If you generally type your notes, add in lots of pictures related to your class lectures.

A lot of the time to keep from spacing out in class I doodle in the margins of my notes or color. This keeps me present in class during discussions, but also entertained. When it seems like your classmates or professor will never stop talking, try to find something in what they’re saying that you can relate to. Think about how what they are saying relates to class material, or your own experiences. Everything said has some sort of importance to class! If you happen to daydream during class, it’s completely okay, too. Just try your best to get back to a class mindset. Some days are especially difficult for me and I have to take a walk or get a drink of water in order to stay more present in class. Just remember, everyone has off days where they can’t pay attention. As long as you do your best and review material, you’ll do great.