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SELF-MOTIVATION: An O2 For Higher Education (HE) Success

By: Gbenga Omole-Great

Motivation is the main factor for everyone’s actions, desires, and needs, while prompting us to make certain decisions or follow a certain path. We all know of motivation, but what is it and how does it affect our academic achievements?

Motivation is an indispensable factor in a learner’s academic preparedness and desire to learn. It should be noted that motivation can be both externally driven and internally generated. Internal motivation is often referred to as self-motivation.

A Canadian-American motivational Speaker, Brian Tracy, once said: “to accomplish what you desire you must be self-motivated. Others can influence and encourage you but you are the one who must make the choice. You are the one who must take action!”

Self-motivation plays a crucial role in achieving academic success. It is the inner drive and determination that pushes students to set goals, persist through challenges, and strive for excellence in their educational pursuits.    However, the flexibility in lesson delivery and assessments in Higher Education (HE) requires a level of self-motivation. Without this, students may stray and lose focus, having knock-on effects on their studies.

Based on my personal reflective accounts – as an award-winning HE student, here are some ways self-motivation plays into academic success in higher education:


  1. Goal Setting:

Self-motivated HE students are more likely to set specific and achievable academic goals. These goals act as guiding points, giving a clear direction to their studies. 

At the start of my HE program at City College Plymouth, I set the goal of not wanting to just be a face in the crowd of learners but to be an award-winning student by the end of my program. This goal motivated me to work diligently, attend classes regularly, study consistently, and give my best to all my assignments – competing with no one but myself towards achieving my possible best as I keep striving to be better always.


  1. Perseverance:

Academic journeys are often filled with obstacles and setbacks. Self-motivated HE students are better equipped to handle these challenges, possessing the determination to persevere through difficult times. For instance, despite challenges with the educational, technological and ‘social’ environments of HE at the start of my program, self-motivation and the never-give-up attitude kept me finding solutions, seeking help when needed, committing to personal development, and not giving up despite initial difficulties.



  1. Time Management:


Students showing self-motivation tend to be more organised and manage their time effectively, prioritising their studies, assignments, and other responsibilities. Balancing multiple courses, extracurricular activities, and personal commitments demands effective time management skills and self-discipline, but the drive of self-motivation makes this possible! 


  1. Initiative and Participation: 

One of the major pointers to identifying self-motivated HE students is that they are more likely to take initiative in their learning process. They actively engage in class discussions, ask questions, and seek additional resources to expand their knowledge which can positively impact academic performance. Additionally, fellow students and tutors are always happy to work with a motivated student. I found that having ongoing self-motivation for academic excellence helped me to always maintain strong initiative in classes and participate in discussions and group research. 


  1. Overcoming Procrastination:

Procrastination is a common challenge among many students, with HE students being no exception. Self-motivated individuals are more capable of overcoming procrastination as they can resist the temptation to put off tasks and assignments until the last minute. 

Instead, they work steadily towards deadlines, completing tasks well ahead of schedule. It is my usual practice to start preparation for every end-of-term assessment right from when we start taking lessons. A higher education student who is highly self-motivated will constantly overcome regular temptations to procrastinate academic activities, striving to maintain the balance between study, work, family life and other extracurricular activities.


  1. Continuous Improvement:

Continuous improvement and constant drive for personal development are traits you see in self-motivated HE students. Every self-motivated HE student I have seen always strives for continuous growth. They see challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and become better. This growth mindset can lead to higher academic achievements. 

For instance, receiving a lower grade to what I expected in the first presentation assignment at the start of my HE program challenged me, instead of discouraging me. I used it as a learning experience to identify my weaknesses, studying & preparing harder for the next assessment, to improve and receive a higher grade. 


Final Thoughts:

Self-motivation is the driving force behind academic success. It empowers students to set meaningful goals, persevere through difficulties, manage their time effectively, take initiative, stay focused, and continuously improve. In higher education, self-motivation is not only crucial for achieving good grades but also for developing essential skills and attitudes that will benefit students both in their future careers and personal lives.


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