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How to Motivate High School Students - Get Them Excited About Career Pathways and Special Interests


Remember the days when you were a high school student?. Did you have any career aspirations? Did you know what you wanted to do after graduation? Some of us may have been confident in our future plans while others felt anxious and uncertain. As your student approaches this pivotal time in their lives, there is a lot you can do to help motivate and prepare them during your time together.

Continuing reading to learn more!


Get to Know the Types of Motivation: 

There are two types of motivation– intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is the desire to engage in a behavior that is personally rewarding. An example is reading a great book because it is enjoyable, not because you will receive a reward in return.

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is the motivation to engage in an activity to earn a prize or reward. An example is studying really hard for a math exam so you will receive a good grade.


Tapping into Motivation for High School Students:

As an educators, you most likely already recognize that every child has a different set of needs. Identifying what motivates them may be trial-and-error until you find something that works. It may require you to utilize both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation strategies. Commonwealth Charter Academy suggests implementing the following strategies into your sessions:

1. Keep the Content Relevant

Try to make session materials relevant to your student’s life. Identify what motivates them to learn and keep them engaged. If they are interested in STEM, incorporate resources relating to that topic or discuss possible career paths. Relating their special interests into sessions will create excitement and a positive learning experience. 

Is your student unsure about what careers they would like to pursue? Click here for 60 online questions to see which careers fit their personality. Who doesn't love a fun quiz!

Image source Canva-2


2. Use Rewards and Set Weekly Goals

Using extrinsic motivators to encourage students will push them to step outside boundaries and accomplish their goals. Reinforce this behavior by setting weekly goals with your student. Rewards will keep them motivated to persevere, no matter how challenging the task may be. Rewards are also a great way to recognize your student’s progress and achievements, especially if they're not seeing their progress reflected in their test scores or grades quite yet. 


3. Help Your Student Identify Their Intrinsic Motivators 

Show praise or recognition toward your student when they show interest in completing an academic task for personal gain. Is your student curious to learn more about a lesson topic because they want to expand their knowledge? Give them a pat on the back and continue to encourage that behavior. You get to be their biggest cheerleader!


4. Provide Feedback

Kindly share feedback on whether your student did something well or incorrectly. This will reinforce concepts and allow them to learn from their successes or mistakes. Receiving immediate feedback will better help your student remember what they have learned and apply it in the future. Let them know you are in their corner and encourage them to keep trying!


5. Make It Fun

Explore concepts and topics that interest them. Get creative, and get outside the box. Incorporate interactive lessons, videos, and games into your sessions. You may also take this time to explore different career paths and interests. Tutoring may seem like a chore to some students so keeping sessions fun will help them remain engaged and productive!

Click here to explore different careers as well as the pay, job outlook, work environment, and more!

6. Start with the End Goal

If your student does have an idea of what kind of career they are interested in (or after doing the quiz they start to get excited about a pathway), start with the end goal by looking at job descriptions together on a platform like Indeed. That will give your student an idea of how much education they may need (does their desired career path  require a masters degree, bachelors degree, or no formal education), what their salary may look like, job description, previous work experience, and anything else that a potential employer may be looking for.

Now your student has a roadmap, and a head start to get exactly where they want to be, and maybe a better understanding of why they need to take that Algebra class in the first place!


Image source Canva (2)-1


Is your child struggling in school? Enroll them in tutoring with The Sunshine Method where we take into account their individual needs and abilities. Click here to get matched with a tutor today!