Staying Motivated in the new Academic Year!

Staying Motivated in the new Academic Year!

For many FE and HE students a new start to the academic year can bring about a renewed sense of motivation to stay on track with their studies. However, as the academic year progresses, it can be a challenging to keep the momentum going and to stay motivated.

There are many theories that seek to explain motivation and the reasons why we behave in a particular way. The work of Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1943,1954) is often drawn upon when discussing human motivation for learning. As a Humanistic Psychologist, Maslow focussed on the positive aspects of human behaviour and believed that we all have the capacity to realise our potential.

Maslow proposed a Hierarchy of Needs Theory and suggested that humans are motivated by five essential needs; Physiological, Safety, Belonging, Esteem and Self Actualisation. He demonstrated these needs in a hierarchy by constructing them a pyramid. The lower order or basic needs are at the bottom of the pyramid, and higher order needs towards the top.

The central theme in Maslow’s theory was that in order to stay motivated and achieve our goals, we must firstly fulfil our basic needs. Once these needs have been met, we can move on to gratify the higher level needs. If we take care of our basic needs, we feel motivated to achieve. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory has been applied within many contexts, including education. As a student, you can apply Maslow’s theory by addressing each of the five needs in relation to your learning. Here are a few suggestions to help you sustain your motivation for the new academic year!



  • Maintain your health and well being
  • Ensure you get enough sleep, you eat well and rest
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Is your study environment comfortable?
  • Depending on your learning style, listen to music whilst studying.


  • Ensure your study environment is secure
  • Keep passwords for laptops and IT accounts safe
  • If working in the library or on campus late at night, be aware, stay safe


  • Take regular study breaks to make time for loved ones
  • Socialise with friends
  • Establish a learning community with peers
  • Join clubs and societies of interest
  • Find a ‘study buddy’

Esteem needs

  • Access regular Study Support
  • Meet personal deadlines, set learning goals
  • Share achievements with peers
  • Become a College/ University representative
  • Create a CV or a Learning Journal

Self Actualisation

  • Volunteer work in your area of learning
  • Create opportunities for further development
  • Achieve your qualification!

You can find more information about Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs Theory by listening to this podcast BBC , or by visiting Simplypsychology

Written By Jessica Lanham

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