The waning weeks of the semester can be trying during normal times, but students who are enrolled in classes during the COVID-19 pandemic are experiencing burnout at an entirely different level. Regardless of their program or the courses they are enrolled in, it's important for college students to learn how to stay motivated as they approach their final exams.

Here is what you need to know about end-of-semester fatigue and how to stay motivated and focused no matter what is going on around you.


College can be a challenging time, on many different levels. After weeks of working through your rigorous coursework while juggling a job, extracurricular activities or a social life, you are facing an endless string of exams that will determine whether or not you can take your college career to the next level.

Add a global pandemic to the mix, and it's not surprising that you are feeling mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.

An article published on cites research from the National College Health Assessment, and reports that more than 80 percent of college students feel stressed, overwhelmed and burnt out by their responsibilities and obligations. Of those, 40 percent felt that feelings of depression prevented them from living their daily lives to the fullest.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its remarkable impact on every aspect of daily life has taken a particularly significant toll on college students, who have long relied on the community around them in order to thrive. Students feel isolated, they are sick of completing work online and away from their peers, and they have not been able to socialize in the way that they normally would.

As you struggle to stay motivated or regain your focus, it's important to remember that your feelings are valid and normal. More importantly, you are not the only college student experiencing these feelings. It's important to be open and honest about your emotional health and seek help from qualified professionals if you feel that you are no longer able to complete your daily tasks due to depression or anxiety.


Burnout is more than just not feeling like taking on that study session with your roommates on a Thursday evening. True burnout will prevent you from completing any tasks related to your coursework, and it may manifest itself in many different ways.

According to The American Institute of Stress, these are a few of the most common symptoms of burnout in college students:

  1. Lack of energy — Burnout results in more than just the occasional feeling of being tired or sleep deprived. Rather, it leaves you feeling extremely fatigued and with little motivation to perform the simplest tasks.
  2. Negative feelings related to coursework or studies — When you are on the brink of burnout, you will likely resent any work that you have to do in order to finish up the semester. You may have feelings of anger, anxiety or depression when you try to take on your studies.
  3. Depression — Depression is very common among students who are burnt out at the end of the semester. If you feel that depression is preventing you from finishing up your semester, then it's important to seek help from qualified health professionals.
  4. Feelings of being overwhelmed — Sometimes, when you have taken on too much or the semester seems to have gone on for a few weeks too long, you may feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do in the final stretch. When that happens, it is difficult to prioritize and take the next best step.
  5. Anxiety — Anxiety is very common among college students, particularly as you approach your final exams at the end of the semester. If your anxiety is keeping you from sleeping, eating or completing your daily tasks, you may want to seek help from a qualified health professional.
  6. Mood changes — Burnout sometimes results in mood changes, leaving you feeling irritable, testy or on edge.

One of the best ways to stay focused at the end of the semester is to prioritize your ability to stay motivated throughout the duration of it. These tips can help you maintain your motivation from day one:

  • Start your semester out by making a list of goals. You should have long-term goals that you want to achieve by the end of the semester. You should also have short-term goals that you want to reach along the way. This is an ideal way to manage your motivation levels and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.
  • Make a daily to-do list. Breaking down your tasks into a manageable list can help you stay on track each day, which can keep you focused on achieving both your short-term and long-term goals.
  • Always make time for yourself. It's not realistic to complete schoolwork all day, every day with little breaks in between. Find something that you are interested in and that allows you to de-stress—fit it into your daily schedule. Whether it's a virtual yoga class or reading a lighthearted novel, you should find time to do something that you genuinely enjoy.
  • Stay connected with family and friends. Schedule virtual trivia nights with other classmates who you cannot see in-person right now. Make time to chat with a family member from back home. When you stay emotionally connected to the people that you care about, your mind will be more focused and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead of you at the end of the semester.

If you are see the signs, or experience the symptoms, of burnout and your motivation levels have dwindled significantly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to know that you can spark that motivation once again. These tips will help you regain your motivation and stay focused until the semester is officially complete:

  1. Create a new, realistic routine for the rest of the semester. Routines have been proven time and time again to be effective at increasing motivation and productivity in people of all ages. With a solid routine in place, you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed, and you will likely sleep better at night.
  2. Step up your game when it comes to self-care. And, while you’re at it, don't be afraid to reward yourself. According to Psychology Today, self-care becomes even more important when you are feeling a lack of motivation. It is okay to make yourself a priority, even when you have a never-ending to-do list on your desk. Treat yourself to an indulgent TV show at the end of the evening or reward yourself by taking an afternoon hike outside. Self-care will help you feel better physically and emotionally and will allow you to be more focused as you complete your tasks.
  3. Get dressed and ready for the day, even if you are not going anywhere. Daily grooming is necessary, and it will help you stay in the mindset needed to get your schoolwork done to the best of your ability.

Self-motivation and holding yourself accountable is critical to your success as you study at University of the Cumberlands. However, when you learn motivation skills and techniques during your years at the university, you will be able to take those skills and apply them in any setting. Staying focused and on track will help you in both your personal and professional life.

If you are interested in learning more about the undergraduate or graduate college degrees offered at University of the Cumberlands, contact an admissions counselor or request more information today.