The Scholarship System: 6 Steps on How to Win College Scholarships and Secure Financial Aid

How to Help Your Senior Finish the School Year with Enthusiasm (and Avoid Burnout)

Now that the winter holidays are over, many seniors across the country realize that they are mere months away from graduating. While this can be a very exciting realization, it can also be challenging to find the energy to keep pushing forward. For some students, there even may be signs of burnout.

But what can you do to help your senior finish the school year out strong? Plenty of things!

To help your child finish the marathon that leads to graduation, keep an eye out for these signs of burnout. And, if you do see them struggling, you can follow the accompanying tips to help them keep their eye on the finish line.

Intellectual Exhaustion

Yes, it is possible to push your brain past the point of no return. Often, this issue strikes when your child is pushing themselves particularly hard. Maybe they are putting in extra time studying to make sure their grades stay up, or they are juggling their schoolwork and college prep (think applications, FAFSA, scholarships, etc.) and are simply running out of steam.

If intellectual exhaustion strikes, your student may have trouble absorbing new information. In fact, even coming up with a sound strategy for studying or completing college paperwork might feel like too much to handle.

But there’s no need to fear! There are ways to help them work past intellectual burnout.

First, it is important to help them learn to pace themselves. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all of the obligations that are resting on their shoulders, so being able to step back, review everything objectively, and then come up with a realistic schedule is important. Help them organize their thoughts, write a list of their tasks, and then work with them to come up with a realistic plan. You can even find tips for streamlining the scholarship process here!

Second, make sure they take the time to rest. Getting enough sleep is critical as they continue forward, and they also need to stop and have some fun every once in a while. This can be accomplished by scheduling a set amount of time for activities like studying and, when that time is up, make sure they set everything down and walk away. Even if it is only for long enough to eat dinner, planning breaks can help them relax so they can refocus when they get back to it.

Lack of Motivation

Let’s face fact; your senior has been in school a long time. And, while it may not seem that long through the eyes of an adult, it is really all your child has known. Now that the end is near, it can be surprisingly hard to find the drive to keep going. And, this can be made worse if they’ve done the math regarding their potential final grades.

What math am I talking about? Well, by this time of year, most students know how many more tests, assignments, or points are available in each of their classes. Most teachers are fairly open regarding what remains, so students know how much work is between them and certain final grades.

In some cases, this information can be motivating, such as when your student realizes that A is in reach. However, it can have the opposite effect if their efforts won’t have a notable impact.

For example, if an A student discovers that they can essentially fail every remaining test (just fail, not necessarily get a zero) without a serious consequence to their GPA, they may find it hard to find the value in studying. Heck, can you really blame them?

The same can apply to the opposite scenario as well. If no amount of effort can turn that C into a B, then why dedicate the time?

The idea of kicking back for the rest of the year is incredibly tempting, but it isn’t the best plan with college on the horizon. It isn’t uncommon for some of the information being covered to come around again during college classes, so not putting in any effort now just hurts your child later. And, if they are taking AP classes in high school, coasting through the rest of the year may mean they don’t score well enough on the AP tests to get college credit!

The easiest way to fight this sign of burnout is to help them see the value in the time they have left in high school. Whether it is making future college classes easier, or being able to skip them entirely, understanding the benefits of their efforts can help relight the fire that helped them get this far.

Neglecting Friends

On the surface, spending time studying instead of socializing seems like a great thing (at least, through the eyes of a parent). However, letting their social life wither away and die isn’t necessarily the sign of a healthy mindset.

Yes, studying is important, but it shouldn’t be all-consuming. Think about it; would you like to work all day and never play? Probably not. In fact, according to Dr. Stuart Brown , “Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.”

While prioritizing their education is great, it shouldn’t  cost them everything. Make sure your child still spends time with friends on a regular basis, especially since they can study and spend time with friends simultaneously. If regular social time doesn’t seem to be an option, encourage them to invite friends over for study sessions. That way, they can spend time with people who are important to them but still work towards their educational goals.

Any Change in Personality or Attitude

Any sudden change in your child’s personality or attitude should be taken seriously. Academic burnout and long-term stress can increase the risk of serious conditions, including mental health concerns like depression. If your child doesn’t seem to be themselves, it is important to start a conversation as soon as you see the signs. And, if it seems like the situation could be serious, then locate an appropriate medical professional who can assess the situation.

No academic goal is worth a risk to their health or, potentially, their life. And, sometimes, that news needs to come from a professional and not a parent.

Stay Motivated Parents!

It is important to recognize that you have been a part of this marathon too, so you may be experiencing signs of burnout yourself. Just keep your chin up and realize how close your child is to graduation. In a few more months, you can both take a well-deserved break, so keep the finish line in sight. You can do this!