Tips For Maintaining Motivation Throughout The High School Years To Prepare For College Success

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As we are now well into the summer months, it is our hope that this vacation time of year is providing you and your family with a chance to rejuvenate, relax, and enjoy some nice weather and maybe some time away. With students in most parts of the country out of school during August, we also thought that it would be a fine time to discuss an important element of the high school experience for any student who is serious about wanting to attend a competitive college or university in the future.

Yes, we are talking about the topic of “motivation…” but not from the vantage point of motivational speakers or anything like that!

During the summer months it can be very easy to forget how long the school year can feel when a student is smack dab in the middle of it, and how enthusiasm and desire can begin to wane (or even fully disappear, in some cases!) after a few months of the high school grind. It is during these times that it is vital for students to have some techniques that will help to keep them motivated and focused when others are falling by the academic wayside. Anything that keeps a student engaged during the rough parts of the school year is likely to pay dividends both during the college application process, as well as later when the student actually heads off to begin his or her higher education.

Hence, we have selected this summer newsletter to cover a few of the main strategies used by successful students (and their parents) for maintaining motivation throughout the school year. We urge you to consider these suggestions, as well as any others that may work in your specific situations.

Remember, finding a few “tried-and-true” tactics that work for a specific individual is far better than trying to assume a one-size-fits-all approach once a problem arises. Each student has different interests, different talents, different goals, and different triggers that will help him or her to find the best keys to keeping the individual performance levels up. Finding those tools, whether they are found in this newsletter or not, will be the most important part of managing this element of high school success over the long run.

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I. External Rewards Have Their Place

There is always a place for external rewards, especially in the early stages of high school, through which a student can earn something special for continued and consistent strong performance. Often these rewards will come from a parent (or other relative), but the nature of these rewards can vary substantially. Some families will initially opt for a cash reward for a good GPA performance, for example, while others will seek out different rewards – whatever they might entail – that are specifically tailored to the interests of their student.

If choosing external rewards during the high school years to keep motivation from waning, the rewards should be clearly stated and outlined in advance. It should be something that serves as a true motivation for the student (not all kids are excited about the same things!) so that it holds their interest over the long term. Of course, in the end, it should also be something that the student can rely on receiving once they have reached their goal.

It is important to recognize, however, that these types of external motivators function the best over a limited term, as a bridge to internalized motivation and other things that keep students functioning at optimal levels over the long term. Later during the years of higher education, and even beyond into a career, these types of rewards from a parent or relative will dry up and the student will likely be relying solely on his or her own resources.

II. Seek Out The Individual Interests

It is not always the most effective plan to simply rely on cash as a motivator. For one thing, the financial circumstances of some families can make this a difficult option. For another, there can be great value in selecting a reward that is directly related to the specific interests and goals of the individual student.

Even families with the financial means to offer a monetary reward for excellent performance in school may wish to rethink their sole reliance on that particular strategy. There are many intriguing options that can serve as both a motivation and as an encouragement to follow a student’s dreams in a particular field.

For example there are summer camps, student interest groups, conferences, and other events that can be used as a reward for students who are developing their interests and abilities. (As an added bonus, students who perform well in their area of interest are often eligible for scholarships and grants to these events, making them a possibility for families who might not otherwise be able to afford them.)

We urge parents to investigate what options are available in your area to see the best rewards for your child’s situation and interests. You might consider summer programs at colleges, special interest camps and events, and national youth and professional organizations that can offer events that will motivate and excite students. Any of these can serve as a tailor-made reward for a student who is able to perform at a high level.

III. Internalized Motivation Matters

As mentioned above, the goal for selecting motivational strategies for students must assume a long-term view. While it is important to find something that will resonate with the high school student in the here and now, the ultimate goal is for him or her to develop a source of internal motivation that helps provide the drive to their success later on in the college or university years, and beyond.

For this reason, it is important to help students develop a mature understanding of academic achievement during the high school years. Students who complete high school only having made good grades because they wanted a reward, or even worse, students who choose easiest high school classes in order to make a quick buck each term or semester, will be likely to find themselves in a problematic situation when they start college. Students who have not developed internal motivation are every bit as likely to run into academic difficulty at college as those who are ill-prepared academically.

Remember that internalizing motivation happens over time. It is not something that happens in a semester, for most people, but it is a part of the process going through high school. As students grow and mature they will begin to make that transformation from external to internal motivation… it happens at different rates for different students, but the most important thing is to assist in the process as it occurs.

A good college funding advisor can offer some excellent ideas and feedback on this important topic, because we are the experts in college preparation and application, as well as helping families to plan for the financial side of higher education. College Funding Advisors can offer some of the best information regarding all of the necessary preparations for success at the college or university level, including motivational techniques and how to tailor them to your individual high school student… we would be pleased to help you learn more about exactly what it will require for your child to accomplish his or her academic goals both during high school after graduation.

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Students who figure out the most effective motivation strategies for themselves early on are usually the ones who will demonstrate the most success during the high school years, and they will likewise be best prepared for their future challenges at the college or university level. Again, it is important to remember that this in an individualized process, and the things that work best for one student will not always apply across the board… so for that reason it is important to concentrate on each individual student in discovering what ideas will work the best in his or her academic circumstances.

For parents, of course, there is another set of responsibilities. For parents, remember that the professional advice of a college funding advisor can help immeasurably with the effective management of their financial side of the equation. We are pleased to help, and we bring with us the specific knowledge and experience that is required to make every single step of the college application, selection, and funding processes much simpler (not to mention more successful) overall.

We are always focusing our efforts on the financial preparation for college, working with families in a number of different ways. One of the most popular teaching methods that we have for delivering this vital information to parents is through our College Funding Workshops. These presentations are delivered live to the parents of college-bound high school students by our very finest college funding professionals. It is difficult to beat these workshops for a direct introduction to the college funding information that is most important for parents. It is filled with the most up-to-date details to help with the preparations for higher education for today’s high school students, and we are pleased to invite you to attend one in person.

We make sure to plan our workshops at times and locations that fit well with the schedules of working and busy parents. This will certainly include weekend and evening options for interested parents. With that said, we must make parents aware that even though we require no admission fee to attend these workshops, we still require a reservation beforehand. This makes it possible for us to optimize our workshop planning as well as space management. For additional information about our free presentations, or to make a reservation for an upcoming workshop, simply place a call to our office. One of our workshop staff members can certainly help you with your needs. The number you can dial to reach our office is (651-455-0621).

Feel free to pass this valuable information on to family or friends.

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