Re: how to motivate yourself to study.
This worked for me. I don't know if it'll work for you or anybody else, but you can evaluate and see if you can adapt it for your purposes.
At around the same time that I started college, I became an avid fan of the Beatles. I had heard their music often during my childhood and adolescence, but until the end of high school/beginning of college, I didn't consider myself a *student* of their music.
I was fascinated by what made the Beatles the best pop/rock band of their generation and arguably the best band of all time. Naturally, they were talented, but so were many other artistes. What separated the Beatles from the pack, however, was their insistence upon each of their new works surpassing their previous ones. They started with simple love songs such as "Love Me Do" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand," progressed to such sophisticated album-length statements as RUBBER SOUL and SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND before breaking up in 1970. In the eight years that they recorded together, they produced a body of music that would influence other pop/rock musicians for generations to come.
If you listen to the Beatles' music in chronological order, you'll see a constant progression - a constant quest to improve upon the previous music. The journey began with their cover performances and recordings of their favorite folk, blues, country, and early rock 'n roll music. The Beatles loved the music of 1930s and 1940s blues artists, of American country music stars, and of course, earlier rockers such as Elvis and Chuck Berry. They learned by copying/imitating these earlier masters. This is the "studying" phase.
As they accumulated knowledge, skill, and experience as musicians in their own right, the Beatles began writing their own music. At first, the songs were highly derivative of those of their heroes, but even in the beginning, the Beatles injected a unique character into their songs that made even their earlier works much more than straight imitations of their heroes' music. This is the "thinking" phase.
The Beatles reached the pinnacle of pop music by 1964, and were pioneering a new style of popular music that had not previously been heard. Even so, they didn't rest on their laurels. Conscious that even the newest music would soon be imitated and grow stale, they absorbed new influences...from classical Indian music to avant garde sound collages to experiments with electronic music (e.g. early synthesizers and such). They did things that pop groups had never done before (e.g. employ 40-piece orchestras to play an ascending music scale, only to end on a single crashing chord that they allowed to resonate to silence over several minutes), that pop groups weren't supposed to do. This is the "innovation" stage.
When I studied in college or wrote essays, I had the Beatles' catalog playing in the background. Far from being a distraction, the music focused my effort because I felt that I was essentially doing what a young John Lennon or Paul McCartney did when they were Beatles: each essay I wrote was my new "album." It had to say something different from my previous essays (or my peers' essays), trying something daring and new, and push the envelope of analysis and presentation - to be better than the previous essay (just as each new Beatles album was better than the previous one). When I studied for tests and quizzes, I was essentially rehearsing my material for a "live" concert. Live concerts obviously aren't as technically perfect as a studio recording, but the essence of the music is the same. When you play "live," however, you're allowed a measure of spontaneity that might not be evident on the "single" (e.g. the short homework assignment) or "album" (the extended essay/project). Either way, however, if you're a Beatle (or an aspiring student), you want your work to be the best work you've done to date.
I don't know if any of that makes sense to you, but it was a mental technique I used to motivate me to study in college. I graduated with a 3.8 GPA from UCLA in four years, so I guess it worked.