How Do I Motivate a High School Student?

March 29, 2023
Posted in Questions
March 29, 2023 Terkel

How Do I Motivate a High School Student?

Motivating high school students can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it can lead to incredible results. We’ve gathered insights from ten professionals across various industries to share their best strategies for inspiring and engaging young minds. From connecting hobbies to careers to fostering interests and passions, these experts offer a wealth of knowledge on how to motivate high school students effectively.

  • Connect Hobbies to Careers
  • Set Inspiring Goals
  • Use Positive Reinforcement
  • Job Shadowing Experiences
  • Set Specific Goals
  • Create a Supportive Environment
  • Focused Feedback and Growth
  • Foster Interests and Passions
  • Connect Students to Their Dreams
  • Promote Autonomy and Decision-Making

Connect Hobbies to Careers

High school students are often preoccupied with having fun with their friends, goofing around, and practicing their hobbies. Some of them think about their future relatively late, and one of the best ways to motivate them is to talk to them and explore options that would allow them to monetize their greatest hobbies and talents. Show them careers that will allow them to practice or support their hobbies, and they certainly will be motivated to get there in the end.

Natalia BrzezinskaNatalia Brzezinska
Marketing and Outreach Manager, ePassportPhoto

Set Inspiring Goals

The best way to motivate a high school student is to provide them with goals that are meaningful and challenging, yet achievable. An example of this would assign an inspirational TED Talk or YouTube video for them to watch and use as a motivation tool; the student then has the chance to assess their own feelings and progress as they work towards their goal. This allows the student to gain personal value from the activity, ‌giving them more incentive to continue making strides toward success.

Grace HeGrace He
People and Culture Director,

Use Positive Reinforcement

Motivating a high school student requires a mix of positive reinforcement and creative approaches. Encouraging regular feedback from teachers, keeping the lines of communication open with parents, and providing recognition for accomplishments are all effective methods of motivation. It may help to provide students with incentives like rewards or extra privileges when they show good study habits, complete assignments on time, or reach other goals.

Amy LeeAmy Lee
Medical Advisor, Nucific

Job Shadowing Experiences

High school students need to be motivated through practical activities that give them a glimpse of real life. Allowing them a job shadow significantly boosts their morale and drives them to work toward the career they want. The key here is to allow them a day or two with a top professional in the career they are aiming for and give them a front-row seat as a personal assistant to get them in on the action.

Liam LiuLiam Liu
Co-founder and CMO, ParcelPanel

Set Specific Goals

Setting clear and achievable goals can help high school students stay focused and motivated. Goals should be specific, measurable, and time-bound, and should be broken down into smaller steps that are more manageable. Encourage students to track their progress and celebrate their successes along the way.

Rene DelgadoRene Delgado
Founder and CEO, The Indoor Golf Shop

Create a Supportive Environment

Motivating high school students can be complicated, as they are often under pressure from various sources, including parents, peers, and society. The key to helping students stay motivated is to understand their unique circumstances. Making learning enjoyable is also essential, as interactive experiences, such as hands-on activities, group projects, and games, can make the material more interesting and relevant.

Creating a supportive classroom environment is another key factor in fostering motivation and a sense of belonging, where communication, respect, and kindness should be encouraged. To help high schoolers achieve their goals, educators should take an individualized approach, using methods that align with each student’s learning style and providing a positive environment.

Curtis AndersonCurtis Anderson
Co-founder and CEO, Nursa

Focused Feedback and Growth

Feedback should be specific and focused on how the student can improve, rather than just on the final grade or score. Providing opportunities for revision and improvement can also be helpful. Encourage students to reflect on their own work and identify areas for growth.

Alice HallAlice Hall
Co-founder and Creative Director, Rowen Homes

Foster Interests and Passions

One of the best ways to motivate high school students is to encourage and support their interests. When a student is pursuing something that they are passionate about, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and perform better in school. As an educator or a parent, it’s important to recognize and validate your student’s interests and guide them towards resources that can help them explore and develop their talent.

This can include extracurricular activities, mentorship, workshops or classes outside of school, and even attending events or conferences that align with their interests. By fostering a culture of support and growth, you can help to motivate and inspire high school students to reach their full potential.

Basana SahaBasana Saha
Founder, KidsCareIdeas

Connect Students to Their Dreams

Every student has a dream of what they want to achieve in life. Unfortunately, many high school students are told they are too young and should wait until they are older, which leads to frustration and even forgetfulness as students put their dreams on hold. Every dream and every vision can start right now.

We can motivate high school students by placing them in proximity to their dreams right now. Want to be a chef? See if you can work at a restaurant or practice in the kitchen on the weekends. Have your sights set on being a surgeon? Email the surgeons in your area to shadow them in their clinic and during their procedures. The closer we place them in their vision, the more their enthusiasm will bubble over.

Elisha Peterson MD MEd FAAP FASAElisha Peterson Md Med Faap Fasa
Anesthesiologist and Pain Medicine Physician, Elisha Peterson MD PLLC

Promote Autonomy and Decision-Making

Autonomy is one of the best ways to motivate students because it instills in them to have full trust and confidence that they can do whatever they set their mind to. It’s easy to think that micromanaging is the best way to motivate a high school student, but this can actually cause them to feel stress and pressure, which has the opposite effect.

To help them gain autonomy, it’s important to let them take control and ask them what they want to learn, or how they want to go about doing it. When they have a bigger role to play, they are much more likely to actively and happily take part.

It also helps to decide upon deadlines as a group instead of deciding for yourself. Setting deadlines is an important task that students will need to use all their lives. Allowing them to choose motivates them to complete a task, as they were part of that decision-making process.

Allen King, CEO, Fun Join

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