How to take an interest in your studies?

A girl in the library.

Have you ever been sitting in a classroom and suddenly realized that you had no idea what was being discussed?

Well, if your mind tends to wander at times, you are not alone.

Short attention spans are common to many students.

However, with a little effort and some attitude adjustment, you can learn to increase your powers of concentration.

Cultivating interest in studies

Think of a trained athlete.

If an athlete allows himself to be distracted for even a moment, it can cost him the game. 

To win, he must learn to concentrate—blocking out the sound of the roaring crowd, ignoring his pain and exhaustion, dismissing the very thought of failure. 

But just what motivates athletes to put forth such extraordinary effort?—The trophies and accolades given to victors.

Similarly, you have to be motivated to pay attention! 

The book Study Is Hard Work, by William H. Armstrong, says:

It is the responsibility of the student to be interested. No one can be interested for you, and no one can increase your interest unless you so will.” 

Knowledge is the key to understanding the world around you.

The more you know, the more you can learn. 

You may not remember all the things you learn in school, but at the very least, school helps you to nurture and cultivate thinking ability.

Having mental discipline and an ability to concentrate will benefit you throughout your life.

Bored and boring teachers

However, some students complain that even their teachers seem to lack interest.

One student lamented:

Teachers stand up in front of you, say something, give you your assignment, and then dismiss you. I think they’re slacking off. The teachers don’t act like it’s important, so we don’t see the need to pay attention.”

However, should you conclude, then, that it is a waste of time to pay attention?

Not necessarily.

Many teachers may simply be trapped in a vicious circle. 

Usually when no one pays attention to teachers, the teachers think that nobody wants to learn.

Then they don’t put much energy and enthusiasm into teaching.

Believe it or not, you may be able to help break this pattern.


Simply by paying attention.

Having just one interested student may be all that it will take for a bored teacher to have a renewed interest in his job. 

Granted, some teachers simply do not have the ability to hold the interest of a class.

But before you allow yourself to lapse into daydreaming, ask yourself, ‘Does he know what he is talking about?’ 

If so, make up your mind to learn something from him.

Listen carefully—concentrate!

Get involved in classroom discussions.

Ask pointed questions. 

Many students find it helpful to jot down diagrams, words, charts, definitions, and main ideas that the teacher puts on the board or otherwise emphasizes.

After attending a class can you recall something from each presentation?

Or do you sometimes find that you cannot even remember who was teaching you?

Once again, it is a matter of seeing the importance of what you are learning.

Why, your very life is involved! 

On the other hand, if you fail to pay attention, you may not make the needed improvements in your life; you will stunt your own mental growth. 

Practice! practice! practice!

The more you practice concentrating, the more adaptable your brains will become at the task. 

Discipline yourself to pay attention.

After a while it will get better, and you will be able to pay attention for longer periods of time.

Finding joy and getting results in you studies are not always a matter of spending more time at it.

There is another consideration, an even more important one.

It is how you use the time you do take.

Those whose study is fruitful and enjoyable do not necessarily put more time in study than poor students. 

But they do make more effective use of the time they spend.

They are skilled at study.

Some have difficulty with study because of problems such as a slow reading rate, poor grammar, or poor study habits. 

If these are remedied, the student could make far better use of the time spent and enjoy it much more.

There are remedies for such problems, but the remedies require effort. 

But then, anything new usually does.

When you were a child, did you learn to walk confidently overnight?

It took months of repeated falls.

Now you enjoy walking with little effort. 

If you are a housewife, your first attempts at cooking were likely frustrating and not very successful.

But what a calamity for your family if you had given up trying to learn! 

If you play a musical instrument, your first tries and the constant practice were likely not very enjoyable.

But by persisting you became proficient enough to enjoy it.

So, too, with study habits.

You cannot expect to improve them without hard effort, particularly at first. 

But in time, good study procedures will become easier, even habitual.

They will then make your study far more effective and enjoyable.

Stay focused

Blocking out distracting thoughts is also important. 

True, you may have a number of legitimate worries on your mind: that test coming up next week, a personality conflict that’s causing you stress, some upcoming expense you have to cover. 

Listening attentively can also help you stay focused.

Try to anticipate what the speaker will bring out during the talk and then see how he does it. 

Ask yourself, ‘What are the main points under discussion?

How can I use what is being taught?’ 

Anticipating what the teacher will say next may also help you to keep your mind on track.

Try to follow his line of reasoning.

Note the arguments he uses. 

Reflect on and summarize his main points.

Take brief, meaningful notes.

When a part calls for audience participation, participate! 

Doing so can help keep your mind engaged and your thoughts from wandering.

Admittedly, listening can be a challenge if a particular teacher lacks enthusiasm or has a lackluster delivery. 

However you can learn, even from a “dull” speaker, if you concentrate and listen. 

Who knows?

He may even touch on some shade of meaning or application in a way that has never occurred to you before.

Granted, learning to tune in—and not zone out—will take effort and practice.

But in time you will reap benefits. 

Learning to concentrate could mean better grades and, more important, mental growth!