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How to Handle an Unmotivated Senior

Dear Harlan: I have a son who is a senior in high school. He has been dragging his feet when it comes to college applications and essays. He is not excited or motivated. How do we motivate our son to do his best and focus on the next step of his life? We have offered to get him additional help and guidance, but he’s not interested. Any suggestions on what will motivate him?

— Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent:  Maybe he’s not motivated because he doesn’t want to go to college. There is this assumption that college is the next step after high school. Sometimes the next step can be in a different direction. He might be more motivated and interested in enrolling in a gap year program. I love these programs. Many of them are affiliated with larger organizations and offer cultural and experiential learning in other countries. He might be burned out and happier attending a community college and getting a part-time job that interests him. In addition to exploring other paths, make sure to check out his mental health. The lack of motivation and inability to get excited could be more than a lack of ambition on his part. Bottom line: If he’s not motivated to do the work to get into college, don’t expect him to be motivated to do the work to stay in college.

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