College students can get discouraged or stressed at colleges and universities and contemplate dropping out. Teachers should encourage students to finish their higher education and earn their bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree. Here are some tips for helping students find value in their education and finish their degree.

Set goals to keep students on track

Setting goals is important for college students to find value in their college education. In “Tips for Students: How To Reach Your Academic Goals in College,” by Taylor Massey, posted in Cengage Learning’s Engaging Minds January 10, 2014, students are advised to set goals for what they want to achieve in college and appreciate their accomplishments along the way. Students should assure themselves, “You are able to more easily gauge your progress toward your goal. You are able to make adjustments to your goal and methods as needed,” wrote Massey.

College still worth it

According to Pew Research data, a majority of graduates said getting a college degree was worth it and paid off, based on what they paid for college versus their career earnings. Writing in “5 facts about today’s college graduates,” posted in, May 30, 2014, Drew Desilver added that of millennials, or students born after 1980 who typically worked full-time in 2012, when the study was conducted, “workers with at least a bachelor’s degree had median annual earnings of $45,500, well over the medians for people with only some college ($30,000) or a high-school diploma ($28,000).” Letting your students know that their income really is impacted by their college degree should offer them additional incentive to finish.

Other reasons to complete college:

  • be more qualified for specialized jobs
  • be more competitive in the workplace
  • have fewer and shorter terms of unemployment
  • be an inspiration to others in their family who are considering college
  • be healthier and live longer.

Relieve stress that may derail motivation

Stress can be a major factor in derailing college students’ motivation for continuing their education. Stress that is not addressed can lead to depression, a desire to slack off, distraction, and bad grades. Signs of stress include irritability, headaches or migraines, insomnia or too much sleep, upset stomach, lack of appetite or emotional eating, high blood pressure, quickness to anger and lash out at others, lack of energy, and lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities.

“But you can break the cycle of negative stress by learning ways to help yourself relax. By taking the time to practice simple relaxation techniques on a regular basis, you can give yourself a chance to unwind and get ready for life’s next challenge,” said Carolyn Hopper in Practicing College Learning Strategies. Techniques to relieve stress and learn to focus on education and learning include physical activity, music, breathing exercises, speaking with family and friends, taking a short break from school, speaking to a counselor, and getting a massage or doing yoga. You may be able to introduce relaxation or centering exercises to the beginnings or endings of your classes, or in one-on-one sessions with students contemplating dropping out.

Reference: Hopper, Carolyn H. 2016. Practicing College Learning Strategies, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth. Cengage Learning. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.

What are some ways that you’ve motivated students to continue their education?