Q: “I’ve been working toward my college degree for three years, and at the rate I can take courses, I figure I’ve got three years to go. But I’m just not motivated anymore. I used to know exactly what I wanted to do with my degree. But changes in industry and in the economy have made those plans obsolete. I guess there will be a place for me somewhere if I get the degree, but it’s hard for me to work toward a goal when I’m not sure what that goal is anymore. Sometimes I think I’ll just have to drop out and take a lower level job. Do you have any suggestions?” -Rick
A: Rick, I can certainly understand your situation. When you could see what kind of work future your degree would bring you, you were academically motivated. But since changes in industry and the economy have made your future uncertain, you’ve lost that motivation.
Not all people are like that, Rick. Some students can work with adequate motivation on academic course work even if they cannot clearly see the application of their studies, or the work environment their degree will put them in. But there are also many people who feel just as you do. Their goals must be clear to them in order for them to maintain motivation.
But do you have to drop out if you are among those who need clear goals, but are without that clarity due to a changing economy? I believe that would be unfortunate. If it is easier for you to maintain motivation in light of visible and tangible goals, then maybe it is up to you to make things visible and tangible for yourself. Here are a few suggestions on how to accomplish this.
There are some important resources out there for you. Among them are your college’s faculty and alumni. There are people available to you who can help you to get a better handle on what a person with the training you are receiving can look forward to in the work world. Do some networking among them to help yourself.
It is obvious where to find faculty, but less so for alumni. Your college may have an Office of Development or an Office of Alumni Affairs. You may be able to acquire a list of three or four alumni who have recently graduated from your college in your major. If you were to get in touch with these persons, they may be willing to share with you some of their perceptions of the current state of affairs in their industry. You may even be able to visit some of these persons at their place of work to make things even more tangible for yourself.
The point is: Do not give in to a loss of motivation! If you need to be clearer about where your education is leading you, seek out those persons who can help you. Faculty and alumni may be able to help you to regain the clarity and motivation you want to experience.