epending on your major, your living situation, or the kind of student you are, focusing on school can be difficult, no matter your age. But, there are ways that you can work around difficulty focusing to make school easier for you and to make learning more fun. Focusing on school work also comes down to focus literally and figuratively– how can you prioritize school if you literally cannot focus? So, let’s pinpoint the source of that first. 

Two people sit on a couch and laugh at something on a laptop
Learning how to focus on studying is the first step in balancing your school, work, and social life.

First you literally have to focus

One of the difficult things about college is that there are people around, pretty much all the time. Whether you choose to study at the library, a coffee shop, or your house, it is pretty likely that there are at least a few people around. Not everyone is able to study or focus in a loud and boisterous environment. Locating a quiet spot on campus may be difficult, but it might be your best bet for determining whether or not it is your mind that is too loud, or if it is the people around you. Find a study sanctuary for yourself and let that be your place. This will also motivate you to get more work done when you enter that location. 

Focusing on school also stems from what major you are in and what you have already been taught about it. If you are having difficulty understanding the material, you are evidently going to have a harder time focusing because it is not something that you understand quite yet. Taking the time to sit down and figure out what it is that you do not understand could help you tremendously in focusing on what is important. 

A woman with red hair wears a flannel shirt and looks at her computer screen.
For a lot of people, a job is a really important part of college. But, if your grades go down because you are working too much, you should think about cutting back.

Juggling school and work

Having a job is an essential part to many college students' careers. Many students pay for college themselves through their job, or are saving up money from working part-time so that they can pay off their loans after college ends. But, it gets to a point when sometimes too much work and not enough school work can cause issues– because you don’t have to pay for school if you fail out of it. 

Creating a work to school life balance is so important for your mental and physical wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of your grades and job. You are physically not able to be in two places at once, so do not spread yourself too thin. This leads to burnout and often can create bigger problems, such as issues with anxiety and depression. 

Remember, money is not everything, and an on-campus job can 100% live without you. You are at school to learn and get a degree, not to work at the on-campus Starbucks or at a dining hall. These are great jobs that can help you to get through college, but if they have nothing to do with school, then they should be coming second to your classes. Keeping this mindset will help you to keep your priorities straight. 

Four men sit on a mountain laughing
Building relationships is one of the most important parts about life, but if you are worrying more about other people than you are yourself, this may cause lack of focus.

Social life and school

Making friends and building relationships are two things that are imperative to the college experience. Developing connections with the people your age, whether that be through classes, organizations, clubs, or sports– making friends with like minded individuals is important. But, there is a fine line between making friends and prioritizing those friends over yourself. 

Learning how to be a good friend is one of the greatest skills that a person can have. But, taking care of yourself is a skill that many people lack. It is likely that you have heard the announcement before a plane takes off that in the case of an emergency, you need to fasten your own face mask prior to helping others put theirs on. On a much smaller level, that is really what college is about. You are going to college to learn how to take care of yourself first, prioritize your own wellbeing and education over others, and to find your own happiness. Yes, taking care of others and making people feel seen and heard is vital to building successful relationships, but you cannot pour from an empty glass. 

Your education should be the most important to you throughout college. So, before helping your friends with their classes, or tutoring others in theirs, make sure that your academics are straightened out and going well. 

Girl with dark brown hair stands in the middle of a classroom with her books while the people around her are working.
Leadership roles are important to build your resume, but if they are getting in the way of you doing your school work, you need to figure out what your priorities are.

Leadership roles and school

When building a resume, everyone wants to make sure they have things that make them unique so that they stand out from the crowd. This is true– you do want to ensure that your resume has more than just your education on it. Clubs and organizations, and having leadership roles in those clubs and organizations, are an important part of showing your leadership skills in the workplace, and showing rather than just telling. But, there comes a time when you have to put your foot down for yourself and really make the decision of whether or not your extra curricular activities are taking up too much of your time. 

If you're playing a sport that is becoming a bit too demanding, or you are in a club that is asking for too much of your time during the school week, it may be time to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you find to be most important. If your answer is not school, then reevaluate your mindset. It is perfectly fine to care a great deal about an extracurricular activity, but you want to make sure that you are balancing your time rather than tipping the scale on one side or the other– school, or your interests. There are also ways to incorporate school into your outside interests, you just have to be willing to look for them. Many clubs and organizations require a certain GPA or a certain amount of study hours to be a part of them. Utilize those requirements to your advantage. 

Boy in maroon sweatshirt sleeping on a couch with a colorful blanket
Taking care of yourself to make sure you do not get sick is a huge part of being able to focus on your school work.

Keeping yourself healthy

An important part about being able to focus your attention on your school work is being healthy enough to do it. This is an issue that many college students struggle with, because it is so easy to get sick while living on a college campus or in a dorm– especially in the age of the pandemic. Making sure that you are washing your hands, eating well, and drinking a lot of water are just a few things you should move to the top of your list to make sure that you are staying well during the school year.

But, we have to take hangovers into account here too. If you are drinking enough every night to where you are incapacitated for the majority of the next day, and you are not able to do your school work because of it, this is a problem. Going out and having fun is part of the college experience, but just like everything else on this list, if it is affecting your school work in a negative way, then it is not a positive thing in your life. You need to set boundaries for yourself and decide what your priorities are. Asking yourself, “Does this serve my future”? is a good place to start. 

Person walking through a library with a backpack on
College can be overwhelming, so it is important to surround yourself with people who are willing to encourage you.

College can be extremely overwhelming, and at many schools, there are a great deal of mandatory classes that do not actually align with your degree, which can be really discouraging at times. Just remember that you are not alone, and that there are many people in the same boat as you who may be confused or struggling. It is important to surround yourself with people who have similar mindsets as you, and who encourage you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. College is all about learning who you are and who you want to be, so take that and run with it.

Mar 1, 2023