Spring Semester Slump

Motivation runs dry in the spring

Flickr | Photo courtesy
Pictured: a student too tired to even take the cap off her pen.

I hope everyone out there is still enjoying the benefits of that new-semester-motivation. At this point, everything still seems to be going smoothly: classes have just begun, there aren’t any tests or papers to cram for, the smell of your lightly used textbook rings of hope and promising grades.

During spring semester, it is never long before the hopeless pit of work and procrastination consumes most of us.

Or maybe, for those of you less lucky souls, it is possible that motivation has already dried up, and honestly, it’s only a matter of time for the rest of us. 

During the spring semester, it is never long before the hopeless pit of work and procrastination consumes most of us. So why is it that so many of us succumb to the cold weather and slump during the spring semester, and more importantly, how do we stop it?

A simple statistic that can help you understand the reality of this slump regards the NDSU Dean’s list. In order to make the Dean’s list for a semester, a student must have a 3.50 or higher grade point average by the end of the semester and be taking 12 or more credits.

Last year during the fall semester, 4,125 students made this list, the following semester, only 3,740 students made the list. 

The drop in Dean’s list members is significant, and this is only looking at the students who have the best grades. So if students who potentially have the skills to do well at NDSU aren’t able to keep up in the spring, what does that mean for those students who were already struggling to begin with?

There’s a number of reasons why this dip in grades and motivation occurs. 


The first is the easiest to understand and the least controllable: the weather. When the temperature is in the negatives and the roads are dicey, students simply don’t want to go to class. 

For most classes, the easiest way to do well is by just showing up. The weather in the spring is far worse than that in the fall and it puts some students who live further off-campus at a real disadvantage.

There are a few solutions to this problem. The first is to stay well-connected with your professors. If your car is stuck make sure that sending your professor an email about it is not the first interaction you’ve had all semester. If you keep up communication with your professors, they’re much more likely to be empathetic when the weather actually keeps you from attending.

Another good solution is the buddy system. No one likes a free-loader, but if you think you sometimes won’t be able to make it to class, ask a trusted friend to take notes for you. This sounds like a no brainer, but too often people avoid asking someone in their class for their information or pick that friend who misses more class than you do.

If it’s just a dread to go outside, make sure you plan something fun on campus to keep you attending. Trudging through the snow and clearing your car to go to calculus sounds miserable, but if you also plan to meet a friend for coffee you just might come.

The frequent breaks

Fall semester can feel like a grind. There are only a few days off and all you have to look forward to is semester break. Then spring semester comes along and it seems like there are all these long-weekends and days off to look forward too.

While this may seem like a positive, it turns out that the fall grind kept us on track. It’s easy to avoid homework when you can tell yourself you’ll just do it over a long weekend. Then all a sudden you’re halfway through the semester and a month behind. 

Also, people usually spend all their time looking forward to those breaks and forgetting to do work in the meantime. Why think about my paper when I have a Spring Break trip to plan?

In order to avoid break overexcitement, it’s good to do a few things. First off, put yourself back into that grind attitude. Even if it’s just the beginning of the semester, schedule your days like those tiny homework assignments are the same weight as studying for a big exam.

In preparation for those long weekends, don’t save all your work. Instead, get everything done during the week and then actually enjoy yourself instead of stressing about what you’re not getting done.

This may all sound fairly basic, but there are plenty of students who struggle to keep themselves accountable. In order to do better, mandate an end time to your day. Treat school like a job. You work every day from eight a.m. to five p.m., or in my case, noon to eight p.m.. Even if that sounds long, that just you gave yourself some time to relax at the end of the day.

Buildup to graduation

Even if you yourself are not graduating, chances are, someone you know is. Watching them prepare to move into the next stage of their life can make yours feel stagnant. So when they ask to go out all weekend, you say “sure,” because who knows how many more weekends like this they have.

Then you look at them getting the jobs they want and moving to places far more exotic than North Dakota, and you end up thinking, “What the hell am I still doing here?”

School can start to seem pretty insignificant when the people around you seem to really be starting their lives.

As with anything, balance is really important here. That last semester for college students is so important. For many of us, those friends we spend our last semester with are the ones we will cling to for a good amount of time. So any anxiety to be a part of that semester with them, or to enjoy that last semester if you are graduating, is real.

However, the only reason someone is getting that amazing job or moving to that awesome and exotic place is because they came to NDSU and they’re getting their degree. What’s the point of all that college fun if all you’re left with is a two-point grade point average, thousands of dollars in debt, and some liver damage.

Learning how to enjoy yourself while also appreciating how these few short years really will pave the way for the rest of your life is essential.

Dropout and transfer rates

Another looming force in the spring semester is realizing how many people have left NDSU, either for another school or just period. The class picture taken that first week of freshman year looks a whole lot different come graduation. 

Here you are, studying 30 hours a week, while your friend who dropped out wakes up at three in the afternoon and parties every night. It can be tempting to let your grades dwindle while trying to live a similar life.

For the most part though, we all came here to have fun, yes, but mostly to get a degree. If we spend all our time dreaming of not being here, we also risk losing that degree. And, if we’re being honest, the America we live in today is not always going to be super kind to the college dropouts.

Remembering that your friends may be waking up now at three in the afternoon, but you could be doing the same in a few years with a bonus degree is always a good place to start. 

For many people (myself included), the spring semester can be rough. The desire to do well diminishes quickly, and the bitter cold and muggy skies seem to make every little bit of productivity seem impossible.

However, if you stay in touch with professors and friends, treat college like a job and remember how precious that future degree will be, you just might make it.

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