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Maintaining Motivation in the First Year of College

The first year of college is difficult for many young adults. It might be particularly hard for students who struggle with learning difficulties or mental health challenges. With coursework that is more difficult and a new environment, many students feel increasingly stressed and can lose motivation. However, maintaining motivation is important for students to be successful. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions to improve motivation. Getting support and structure from programs at Northwest College Support is one way to help students feel confident and motivated during the transition into adulthood, including the process of going to college.

Challenges of Maintaining Motivation

When young adults go away to college, they are faced with many new challenges. These often include a new environment to live in, new friends, and a different and more challenging class setting. While these differences are hard for many young adults, they are more difficult for those struggling with mental health challenges and learning differences.

Mental Health

Young adults struggling with mental health disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and others are more likely to struggle with the transition to college. This is because the symptoms of mental health impact every part of a young adult's life. While the symptoms will vary for each individual and depend on their unique mental health challenges, they will interfere with their school work, ability to build relationships, and their ability to self-manage their schedule, emotions, and more.

When a young adult struggles in this new environment, it is natural to feel down about the situation. As a result, many young adults begin to feel like they are unable to be successful. Therefore, while they might at first have been excited about going to college, their motivation can decrease in the first year.

Learning Differences

There are many types of learning differences that young adults experience. These can be a result of mental health challenges or due to differences in a young adult's processing. Regardless, these differences can make it difficult for young adults to learn important life skills and manage college work, both in and out of the classroom.

In high school, students with learning differences likely had a set support system. This likely included teachers and parents. However, in college, the support and structure of the classroom are very different. As a result, young adults with learning differences may not have a good system for being successful. This can make it particularly difficult, which makes maintaining motivation a challenge.

Process of Maintaining Motivation

Maintaining motivation is very important in college as it is a long road that takes effort and time to be successful and graduate. For young adults who struggle with motivation, there are some simple ways that can help. This includes building confidence and emphasizing the important value of the task at hand.


Motivation is a result of multiple different aspects. One of these is confidence, also known as self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is when an individual feels like they are able to complete a task or meet a goal. When college students feel confident in their ability to complete a homework assignment or do well on a test, they are more likely to feel the motivation to pursue it. However, according to research, when an individual lacks self-efficacy, their motivation also decreases.

Building confidence in college takes time. Programs at Northwest College Support incorporate systems that help students slowly build up tools that help them to feel like they can do well in school and pursue their goals. While it is not simple, it starts with choosing small and attainable goals. Additionally, it incorporates having support that helps young adults feel like they can try, even if they aren't sure of the result. Along the way, they will learn how to problem-solve and get through challenges. This gives them the confidence to tackle new and bigger goals on their own in the future and throughout college.

Task Value

Another important aspect of motivation is the value of the goal or task an individual is attempting. For many young adults, going to college is the path of least resistance. It has become normal in current society for young adults to go away to college and, therefore, is what many choose to do. However, this means that some individuals do not see or connect value to it. This is especially true for those who do not have a clear sense of the direction they want to go.

Helping young adults see and attach value to their college experience can help improve their motivation. When young adults believe that college courses will take them to something they want, like a job, they are more likely to feel the motivation to stick with it. While first-year courses may not all be exciting, young adults who see the value of them are more likely to stick with them, go to class, and get their work done.

When young adults have mental health difficulties or struggle with learning differences, the first year of college and the transition into adulthood can be hard. Due to it being difficult, many students lose motivation. At Northwest College Support, we understand that discovering the deep meaning behind college and feeling confident can help young adults maintain their motivation during the first year of college and beyond. Our programs help students to improve their self-awareness and grow the skills necessary to do so. This level of structure and support is ideal for young adults struggling with mental health and learning differences. To learn more about our programs and the different levels of support, call (877) 485-2776 today.

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