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Articles / Campus Life / Help for College Student Unmotivated to Finish Classes

Help for College Student Unmotivated to Finish Classes

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 4, 2015

Question: I’m currently a first year college student. Throughout the year, I haven’t had the proper mindset to study, but in two days, it will be my first final year paper. Considering the way I am now, I really do not have any motivation to do or even start studying for it and the three other papers in the coming month. Should I just take a breather right now and re-try once more in the new school term?

It’s impossible to tell from your question if you’re bored with school, stressed by school, or if you’re actually suffering from a clinical depression. But, whatever the reason behind your lack of motivation, I think that as soon as you read this message you should get yourself to your college’s counseling services. Almost every college has professional therapists on staff who will be able assist you (at no charge beyond what you’re already paying for tuition). This counselor can help you to sort out why you are so uninterested in your work and what your next steps should be.

If you don’t complete your classes, you will lose all the money that you’ve spent for this semester as well as the credit for the work you’ve done so far. It’s also possible that you will not be able to go back to school in the fall, even if you want to.

Moreover, if you leave school now with Incompletes or F’s on your transcript, these marks will stay on your record when you try to return to this college or transfer to another one. Although a transcript full of Incompletes or F’s certainly isn’t an automatic deal-breaker that will ruin your life, you can never “wipe the slate clean” by applying to a new college without mentioning your history at a previous one.

But if you see a counselor right away, he or she might be able to help you to cross the finish line this semester or–if not—the counselor could very possibly wangle you a mental-health leave-of-absence. This may allow you to get an extension on completing your final papers and exams so you don’t lose credit (and money) for all your courses.  At the very least, the counselor will provide support as you figure out your best plan for in the days just ahead … and beyond.

This sounds like a problem you can’t solve on your own, nor should you have to.  Many others have felt just like you do, and counselors are typically experienced in guiding confused students through this quagmire.

So call the counseling services NOW to make an appointment … or go there in person! Write back if you have any trouble doing this … and best of luck.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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