Questions on enrolling?
We're here 9am-9pm ET Mon-Fri

Questions on enrolling?
We're here 9am-9pm ET Mon-Fri

Questions on enrolling? We're here 9am-9pm ET Mon-Fri


3 Tips to Help You Stay Motivated in Online School

Written by Nicole Dalbo on Tuesday, 01 November 2022. Posted in Helpful Tips

Smiling woman in graduate gown proudly holds up graduation cap against a sparkling background.

In a self-paced online school, finding the motivation to power through to your diploma while maintaining good grades and balancing your life outside of school can be difficult. Discover how setting goals for yourself, identifying your challenges, and believing in yourself can help keep you on your path toward graduating from high school. Along the way, get a glimpse into the lives of James Madison High School grads and see what motivated them to reach their online high school diploma goals.

Why am I so unmotivated to study?

Getting in the habit of studying can be tough, so it’s important to not be too hard on yourself. Online school can be an adjustment if you’re coming from a more traditional school. You may be overwhelmed by the change in learning environment or even other distracting factors outside of school. Sometimes it may even be enough to have a healthy way to cope such as journaling, being creative, exercising, or discussing what’s going on with like-minded students in the Student Community. However, if that’s not enough, these following tips can help you get motivated and stay motivated, so that you can successfully earn your high school diploma.

  1. Set goals for yourself.

    What do you want to accomplish by earning a high school diploma?

    This is an important question to ask yourself. When you have meaning behind your journey, it can help you stay focused toward your end goal. An easy way to do this is by turning your goal into a SMART goal. “SMART” isn’t just smart—it stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

    To turn your goal into a SMART goal, you just need to answer the following questions:
    SPECIFIC – What is your ultimate goal? What steps will you take to get there?
    MEASURABLE – What can you do to measure progress toward this goal?
    ACHIEVABLE – Is the goal realistic?
    RELEVANT – How do your goals along the way align with your ultimate goal?
    TIME-BOUND – What is the time frame for accomplishing this goal?

    At first, while JMHS graduate Cynthia B. was beginning her online studies, she wasn’t motivated to progress toward earning her diploma. When she discovered she had a baby on the way, Cynthia finally made it her focus to finish high school before her daughter was born.

    “While I was doing my study online, I got the chance to open my own at-home daycare service and started doing nails in a nail salon. After all the fun I was having I realized I was falling behind on my schoolwork. The lack of persistence I had became apparent when I found out I was pregnant.

    I had to tell myself every day that graduating high school is a must! I spent many nights studying hard and working long until I was done.

    I set a goal to be done with high school before my baby girl came into this world. My baby's due date was July 10th. I graduated high school on July 13th, and my baby came into this world on July 18th.

    I am so happy to be in a school like James Madison. To be able to do as much work as I could at my own pace really helped me in the long run.”

    Picture of JMHS graduate, Cynthia.
  2. Identify, understand, and overcome your challenges.

    While everyone has different reasons for why they want to earn their diploma, everyone will have different challenges in reaching their goal as well. Facing challenges with the knowledge and preparation to overcome them can keep your spirits high and your motivation in check to help you move forward. Check out these 4 steps in helping you overcome your challenges.

    1. Identify the problem.
      If you’re encountering an obstacle that’s making it hard to move forward, you’ll need to make a plan to move past it. Identifying what’s giving you trouble and when you usually run into issues can help you detect a possible pattern.

    2. Understand the problem.
      Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to take the next steps to understand why it may be an obstacle for you. If your problem is that you’re having trouble writing an assignment, consider what might be making it difficult.

      Are you unsure of where to start? Are you anxious about turning it in because you’re not confident in your writing? Are you being distracted by outside factors?

      Ask and answer as many questions as you can to help figure out why your problem exists in the first place. Your problem may not be trouble with writing, but you can use this method to help you pinpoint exactly why your problem exists in the first place.

    3. Identify your resources.
      Identify what you have available to you to help lessen this challenge.

      Can you turn to a family member, friend, advisor, or to someone in your community? Can you find ways to address the problem on your own?

      You’ll often have more solutions to overcome your difficult situations than you think. Make a list of all of your possible resources, and then focus on which solutions you would like to take to help you on your journey.

    4. Overcome the problem.
      Overcoming your obstacles isn’t easy. Even when you start taking the appropriate steps to triumph over your difficult situation, the process may take time. Keep at it and continue using your resources as you need them, and you’ll find yourself progressing to your goal.

      Recent JMHS graduate, Isabella B., identified the environment in her previous school as the source of her anxiety. Transferring to online school, Isabella was able to overcome her obstacles with the change of her environment. Being free of due dates for her courses allowed Isabella to change her relationship with school and find a new confidence in herself.

    “Enrolling into this school has changed my life.

    I left regular school because of anxiety issues. Being able to do this program saved me and gave me the space to heal. I got so much support, and the administration was very helpful about any questions I had about anything.

    The lack of deadlines gave me the chance to take my time and learn at my own pace. I still graduated the same year I would have if I’d stayed in regular school.

    Doing the assignments and projects despite the difficulties has empowered me. This program has taught me to trust myself and my capabilities.”

    Picture of JMHS graduate, Isabella B.
  3. Believe in your potential.

    When you’re on your journey to accomplish your goals, the best motivator you can have is to believe in your potential. While you may have friends and family believing in you, you need to believe in yourself just as much to bring your goals to life. Even if the finish line seems distant, your confidence will bring you closer to the end goal.

    Although Chickina B. had setbacks earlier in her life, this 2022 JMHS Graduate held on to the belief that she could go back to school and finally earn her diploma—even after all these years.

    “On April 10th, I graduated from James Madison High School and it feels like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

    I have been ashamed for years for getting locked up during my high school years and not graduating, getting my diploma, or experiencing that walk across the stage.

    Now I am not ashamed to tell my story because maybe I can be an inspiration to someone else.

    It's never too late to be a better you.”

    Picture of JMHS graduate, Chickina B.

Get motivated.

Whether your goal after earning your diploma is to start a career, enter college, or join the military, your future is in your control. With these tips, you have the skills to reach your goal—so, make it happen! Get motivated by taking a look at more of the inspiring JMHS graduates in the 2021-2022 Yearbook. You may even find the motivation to help you reach your goal and be a source of inspiration for others!

Are you ready to start putting these motivation tips to work? JMHS is here to help you on your way. Take control of your future with an accredited, self-paced school with no age limits. Reach out to an Admissions Specialist at 1-800-349-6861 for more information or get started today by enrolling online at

About the Author

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo studied English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Scranton and is currently working toward her MS in Marketing. When she isn’t writing, Nicole can be found watching the newest Marvel movie, baking something sweet, or jamming out to live music.