Study Tips

Study Lessons On-Screen: 11 Study Motivation Quotes From Pop Culture

June 28, 2024

The alarm rings. You wake up, tired and dizzy. Your butt is sore and your back aches — you spent all of yesterday sitting in a dingy corner of the library, staring at your iPad notes. It’s the final push to finish exams. We’ve all been there before.

By the end of the semester, many of us are drained of inspiration. Motivation fizzles into dust as weeks of classes and assignments zoom past you. How do you finish strong?

Inspiration can come from unexpected places. For us, some of the most powerful motivational quotes for studying can come from characters on TV screens. 

Looking for motivation to study? Here are 11 study lessons from pop culture to power you through finals season.

“Keep calm and go to the library.” — Harry Potter

Yes, Harry Potter studied fun subjects at Hogwarts. If you’re learning History of Magic, Defense Against the Dark Arts, or Divination, you probably do have an easier time hauling yourself to the library. But real-world school can be just as fun too. 

Besides, sometimes it’s not that deep. Just hunker down, find a seat at the library, and lock in. 

“They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. And yet what a difference a day makes.” — Gossip Girl, Gossip Girl

Even the secret blogger hiding amidst New York City’s elite youth knew of the power of consistency. It’s true Rome wasn’t built in a day (and neither was the Upper East Side, for that matter!). But work hard across many days and Rome will be built for you. A night of studying alone might not guarantee an A+, but consistent work across several days sure can.

XOXO, Now get back to studying, girl.

“I may be an idiot, but I’m not stupid.” — Spencer Shay, iCarly

Comic relief characters can drop life-changing insights, even when they don’t realize it themselves. Spencer Shay, Carly Shay’s eccentric, clumsy, and occasionally childish older brother, has never been particularly studious (he quit Seattle Law School after 3 days of classes). But he does realize that this does not define him. Maybe he is “an idiot,” but, as per iCarly’s 2021 renewal, he eventually became a successful artist after one of his sculptures went viral.

There’s a difference between being bad at something and being irredeemable at it, as Spencer realizes. So, struggling with calculus or close-reading? Chances are you just need the right study strategies to improve.

“I have the power!” — He-Man, Masters of the Universe

This buff, blonde protagonist of the Masters of the Universe had a lot to say about his capabilities. Whenever Prince Adam lifts the Sword of Power upwards and screams “I HAVE THE POWER!”, he’d transform into He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe. 

Alter egos like Prince Adam’s He-Man have long become figments of pop culture: we’ve seen it in Eminem’s Slim Shady, Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce, and Tyler, the Creator’s Dr. TC. In all cases, an alter ego transcends allows you to transcend limits, to increase your physical, mental, and creative powers to greater heights. 

We might doubt ourselves, but there’s something inside us yearning to be unlocked, to do better and to achieve more. YOU HAVE THE POWER! 

“Don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done.” — David Goggins

Google the words “absolute machine” and David Goggins likely appears on the search results. He is, after all, the creator of the namesake of the infamous David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge: run 4 miles, every 4 hours, for 48 hours (yikes!).

Goggins is our only non-fictional character on this list, but he does have a TV-like quality in the online videos of him while running shirtless in the summer heat. “You don’t know me son!” he screams into the camera. (“I believe [here] he is talking to his inner self of doubt and limitations,” one of his fans on Reddit explains).

Anyways, what’s the lesson here? Lock in. Finish. Push through and do not stop. And if, somehow, you did the David Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge, exams are light work.

“I am running away from my responsibilities. And it feels good.” — Michael Scott, The Office

We all procrastinate and run away from our responsibilities sometimes. We get stressed, panicked, overwhelmed. Michael Scott acknowledges this as he climbs on a rusting metal train, avoiding work and conflict at the office. 

Procrastinating isn’t good, but sometimes we need to acknowledge our own stress. Let it all out; understanding why you’re feeling how you’re feeling can be a good first step in halting the procrastination process.

“Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever.” — Charles Xavier, X-Men

On the subject of procrastinating, here’s an all-too-common experience: Halfway through finals season, you’re burnt out. Instead of studying you take a break and spend hours doom-scrolling on TikTok, Instagram Reels, or what have you. You’re groggy and lethargic and aren’t eating right. You need to get back on track. 

X-Men’s very own Professor X/Charles Xavier did have something to say on this in the film Days of Future Past (2014). Older Professor X (Patrick Stewart) talks to his younger self (James McAvoy), encouraging him to believe again in peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans, and in his own powers and abilities.

Sometimes we’re in a rut. But stumbling and losing your way — whether in school or in life — doesn’t mean you won’t achieve great things. This optimism, for one, carried through Charles Xavier’s entire career. He started a successful haven-school hybrid and fostered sound relations between humans and mutants.

“You can't expect to win every single battle, but love's worth fighting for. And if you're brave and courageous and never quit, you can come out a winner, just like me.” — Ash Ketchum, Pokémon

What happens when you fail six times and win on the seventh? You get Ash Ketchum.

The original lead for the animated Pokémon series lost the Pokémon League not once, not twice, not thrice, but SIX different times. Only on his seventh try did he finally become Pokémon Champion.

With enough attempts, nothing is out of reach. Academic dreams? Achievable. Cum laude? First class honors? Dean’s list? You might as well give it a shot. Keep at it and eventually you’ll get there. You’ll probably need less than six semesters to do it. 

“You don’t have to be afraid to put your dream in action / You’re never gonna fade, you’ll be the main attraction” — Tori Vega, Victorious

Not a fantasy, just remember me — an iconic line in the Victorious theme “Make it Shine,” that you should probably be singing too.

Tori Vega’s belief in her destiny to become a singer was so strong, it eventually pushed her towards an enviable list of artistic feats: writing a song from scratch for her sister’s birthday, performing live and receiving dinner for free, and winning countless sing-offs. 

But, I think WE ALL sing, or so the saying goes. Tori’s dedication should be a lesson to us all, especially for students. Hustle for your (academic) dreams. That A+? With enough hard work, it’s definitely “not a fantasy.”

“Who cares if I’m pretty if I fail my finals?” — Rory Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

Rory Gilmore led a very accomplished life. Valedictorian at Chilton (4.2 GPA). Studied at Yale. Edited the Yale Daily News and covered Barack Obama’s presidential campaign for an online magazine.

Can you have it all? Maybe. She was pretty. She had rich grandparents who traveled with her to Europe. She had a long roster of love interests too. But even then she knew the value of academics. Being pretty was never an excuse to fail her finals. Hot girls and hot guys lock in and study hard too.

“Believe it!” — Naruto, Naturo

Poor Naruto had darn near every possible setback in life. His parents died saving the Hidden Leaf Village from the attack from Kuruma, the nine-tailed fox. After his dad sealed said fox into Naruto’s body with a ritual, most people shunned him as a monster. 

“How did Naruto not become evil?” one Redditor even asks. “Like seriously after what he's been through” — he practically raised himself and his entire village hated him. 

One comment explains, “[His story] is supposed to be aspirational, so that when we go through times we don't become evil either.”

Then, how did he accomplish feats like mastering the Rasengan in a week, taming the nine-tailed fox sealed inside him, and becoming the seventh Hokage? Self-belief it seems, because hard work alone couldn’t have been enough to overcome the challenges life set out for Naruto.

So what’s the answer to all your academic setbacks? As Naruto might say, just dattebayo!

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