Viewpoint: Greater goals motivate students at semester’s end

By Rae Jefferson

Each semester, it seems this is the time the academic train I have been riding starts to slow down. For three-and-a-half months I have chugged along and am now running out of steam, barely coasting with the little momentum I have built up thus far.

I am ready to call it quits but know I cannot. With my GPA playing such a vital role in retaining scholarships and gaining entrance into study abroad programs, I cannot afford to give out now.

I know I am not the only person who feels this way. We have all spent the last few months mulling over facts and information, processing mathematical equations or — if you are like me — hacking away at a keyboard to write news stories.

Yes, we know that we ought to continue studying because it is really the only option we have, but sometimes it seems as if the threat of failing is not enough motivation to do work and do it well. I and others experience great stress and anxiety each Sunday night as we are tossed by the unceasing clock into a new week of academic turmoil.

So what do I do? What do we do?

Over the last week, I have been thinking about what could motivate me to push through until the microsecond I hand in my last final exam. If you are like me, you may require motivation in a more spiritual form.

Being a follower of Jesus, every area of my life is subject to Him and His character. As 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “… be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in not in vain.”

Although I may not feel like arranging another interview or reading another chapter about the joys of the Spanish language, I know that my “labor is not in vain.” The work I am sowing now will be reaped, one way or another, in the future.

I push forward because God says that I am able to do so excellently. I may never use most of the facts I have memorized for different classes, but I know that the time management skills I practice when studying throughout the week will come into play when I am juggling my family, a journalism career and the ministry the Holy Spirit leads me to.

When I do not feel like being responsible, I try to remember who I am and keep going, knowing that I am working hard for someone beyond myself.

Other times, there is inspiration to be found in the little things that brought me to Baylor in the first place.

Our university has helped spark great careers for a lot of students — students who have a passion for helping people.

If you are struggling to roll out of bed for an 8 a.m. organic chemistry class, perhaps you should start every morning with a reminder of how this class is just one stepping stone to the ultimate goal of saving lives as a surgeon.

Tired of typing up seemingly endless research papers about theological ideas? Take a moment to imagine how much your insight into religious topics will help you and others understand faith in a deeper way.

For every moment we find ourselves hating the work we have to put in during this time, we should find something to look forward to. We ought to let the bright future give us some light when we are holed up in a dark corner of Moody or our cramped apartments. Peek ahead, find some motivation and continue forward.

With that being said, recognize when to take a break. We ought to work with excellence, but it is never a good idea to push ourselves to the point that we do not engage in any activities outside of going to class, studying and taking a 30-minute nap for the night.

It is perfectly OK to pull your nose out of that textbook and remember what other humans look like. If we do not find the balance between work and play, we will drive ourselves mad.

The bottom line is that there is always motivation to be found. For some of us, that takes the form of looking past our current situation to find hope in the future.

Others just need to remember what the Lord says they can do. Regardless, we ought to push forward, knowing that our work is yielding something greater than a 4.0.

Rae Jefferson is a sophomore journalism major from Houston. She is a reporter for The Lariat.