Person on laptop

Let’s face it, it can be difficult at times to stay motivated as an online student. Between balancing full-time work, military service, parenthood, and all your other obligations, online college can be tough. 

While you should be proud of yourself for taking on this major commitment, it’s ok to take a moment to refocus when things are challenging. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated with your online classes. Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough reset! 

Removing Distractions

We’ve all been there. You’re ready to tackle the next thing on your to-do list and you receive a notification about the latest sale, the latest news, the latest post on Facebook.  The next thing you know, you’ve been scrolling for 30 minutes or more. Today, the average mobile phone user spent 4.3 hours a day on a mobile device, or about 28 hours a week. 

In our busy lives, there are distractions all around us. Minimizing those distractions is key to staying motivated as online student. 

One strategy to remove “scrolling temptation” is to use social media-blocking apps. While there are many different types of apps, they all are designed to accomplish the same goal – temporarily removing the temptation to scroll. 

Another important way to keep focused is by creating a distraction-free study space. Each student’s ideal study space may look a little different. For some, a study space might be a quiet corner of the house where you can focus in the morning, or after the kids are asleep. For others, it might be going to the local library, a quiet space at work, or café with free WiFi. 

Creating Your Success Roadmap

We all have a lot going on, and without proper planning, it can be easy for life to get in the way of your studies. Mapping out your semester, along with your work and life obligations, can help you stay motivated and focused. We recommend logging into your online learning platform early to look at your syllabus and map out when you’ll complete the major assignments for the course. 

Using a calendar or planner is another strategy to help you manage your time. There’s nothing more satisfying that completing a task on a checklist. 


Even with the best planning and organization, staying motivated as an online student can be tough. That’s why self-care is so important. While self-care can look different for everyone, here are some things to keep in mind: 

Prioritize your time

Give some thought to the things you want to make time for while finishing your degree online. Maybe you enjoy taking a walk in the evening while listening to music. Maybe your family has a tradition of getting ice cream or going to your favorite restaurant. Whatever it is, making time for those moments is important. 

Don’t be afraid to say no

In addition to your daily responsibilities, you may feel pressure to do things that you don’t have time for. While saying no can be tough, it’s also important to create those boundaries. And remember, an explanation isn’t always necessary. Simply saying “I can’t make it” is OK. 

Take breaks and note your stress

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s ok to slow down. In fact, research shows that taking breaks can improve your overall well-being and productivity.

Support System

To be successful with finishing your degree, your support system is key. As an adult-serving college, we love to see the many proud faces at graduation to cheer on our students. There are supervisors who encourage their employees’ professional growth, colleagues that offer congratulations each step of the way, spouses who take on extra duties at home, extended family members who support with childcare, and friends who are there when you need to talk to or take a break for a fun night out. Make sure to lean on your support system when you need their help. 

Online students can also benefit from resources available at their college. Academic advisors are there to support you each step of the way and lend an ear when you need it. Many colleges also offer free tutoring services when you need help with a challenging assignment. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for counseling support when you need it either. All College of Professional Studies students have access to free counseling services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Remember Your Why

Most importantly, don’t forget why you decided to finish your degree in the first place. Was it for your family? Because you wanted to finish what you started? This is your personal mission statement that will help you stay motivated throughout earning your degree online. Simply put, it’s a summary of your unique reasons for going back to college. 

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