The flowers are blooming, the air has that fresh, bright smell of spring, and you’re anxiously awaiting the end of the school year. It can be so easy to lose your momentum at this time of year, but it’s important to stay focused and keep going strong through to finals. Here are four tips to helping you stay motivated and finish the year strong.

1. Routine > Grades

Don’t get us wrong. Grades are important. But the end of the year can make it seem like it’s okay to slip when it comes to staying organized, taking notes, and planning your assignments. But your freshman year is the best time to fine-tune your study skills. Set clear goals for studying. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself about specific grades. If you set up good work habits now, you’ll be priming yourself for long-term academic success. 

2. Reward Yourself For Hard Work

Don’t burn out. Make sure to give yourself time during school breaks and on the weekend to have fun and relax. Giving yourself something specific to look forward to (like a day with friends at the beach, an afternoon of video games, an exciting trip somewhere) can help you stay motivated. And, like we mentioned above, try to reward yourself for following through on a solid work routine, not for achieving specific grades.

3. Keep College in Mind

Staying motivated during freshman year can be challenging for many students--college still feels far away. Try to get excited about college, even this early on. Remind yourself that the only way to get into your dream school is to work hard all four years of high school. Even now, you can plan a campus visit, see a play or music event on campus, or attend a college sporting event. This can help you keep your eyes on the prize.

4. Try Something New

Sometimes when you’ve fallen out of love with a subject, starting a new, creative project can re-ignite that spark of curiosity. The project could be academic, or extracurricular. Either way, a project you’re totally in creative control of can give you that extra momentum you might need to keep you going through the end of the year.

The best way to stay motivated throughout your freshman year is to understand that every moment of your high school career leads to one destination: college. And what does college lead to? Your future. So keep going, and help yourself achieve the future that you want.