Motivating teenagers can be tricky. We all know that teens tend to lack the inclination to do things that they don’t think matters, doesn’t seem important or is about satisfying an agenda that doesn’t relate to them.
It’s no wonder your kid keeps putting off applying for scholarships. This money stuff is all about the parents, right?
No doubt about it, searching and applying for scholarships requires a lot of time and effort. For many teenagers, this can be an unwelcome distraction in an already overwhelming course load and activity schedule.
Like you, I felt like I’d been banging my head against a wall to encourage my teenagers to get serious about this stuff. But, thankfully, I figured out ways to up the motivation at my house. As a result, applications started getting submitted.
Here’s what you need to know to get your kid motivated.
Put college costs (and payments) into perspective.
We all know that college is expensive.
For many teens, though, the cost of a college education isn’t on their minds, or is just plain tough to imagine. So it’s up to you to make that cost a reality for your kid.
Talk to your teen about what she sees herself doing after college. What does her dream life look like? Maybe it consists of things like a big house, a sweet car, participating in fun activities and traveling the world.
All of that takes money, of course. And the more college debt there is, the further back her dreams may be pushed until that’s paid off.
Sit with your teen to discuss what your portion of college expenses will be and what she will be responsible for. Explain what it will take and how much it’ll cost to pay off student loans each month after graduating from college. Make sure your teen knows about interest rates and how it adds up over time.
Now relate those expenses back to where she sees herself in the future. Wouldn’t it be great to graduate college not buried in a mountain of debt? Then she’ll have much more freedom to pursue the things she’s passionate about.
Show how applying for scholarships fits into that equation and how much money is possible to win, with just a little time and effort. Some students have paid for most or all of their tuition with their scholarship earnings and have graduated debt-free!
Time well-invested up front can make a lot of difference later on.
Show that earning scholarships is achievable.
It can be overwhelming for teens to start the scholarship process. There are a lot of myths out there, like:
Scholarships can only be won by athletes and really smart kids.
Only students with financial need qualify for scholarships.
There are too many students applying for scholarships – I’ll never win one.
Don’t let these false ideas deter your teen from applying for scholarships – they simply aren’t true.
Share scholarship award stories as testimonials to show that winning awards is possible. Google “scholarship success story” to find articles that would be motivating for your teenager to read about others like them who’ve qualified for and won scholarships.
Be there for support and encouragement.
As humans, we gravitate to things that give us instant gratification. Applying for scholarships is more of a long game. Your teen won’t see immediate results from the applications she submits, and some of those applications will inevitably not result in an award.
So, consistent encouragement and support from you will go a long way. Show that your teen’s not in this alone by helping her to set small, consistent goals, manage her time, and help organize.
Use my Scholarship Application Organizer Worksheet. It’ll help your teen to keep track of which scholarships she’s applying for, what criteria each scholarship requires, award amounts, when deadlines are and what she needs to submit to be eligible.
We all can benefit from a little extra motivation to complete things that aren’t, well…fun.
Encourage your teenager to think of applying for scholarships as a part-time job. If it takes two hours to apply for scholarships and win a $1,000 award, that’s a $500/hour job. When she compares that to what people her age typically earn at a typical part-time job, it becomes a no-brainer to put time and effort here!
Also, consider paying your kid to apply for scholarships. Some parents pay a certain amount per scholarship application, say $1-10 each, or an amount per number of applications submitted (like $100 for 20 applications). This money can go into your teen’s savings account to use in college, or can be given as a gift card now. Sure, it’s not for everyone. But consider this as an investment in bringing down that college debt with your teen.
Make it a competition.
What if you can turn applying for and winning scholarships into a game? That’s just what we did for our daughters, and it’s proving to really be a motivating method for getting more quality applications in. We essentially said, “Let’s see who can complete the most applications and win the most money for college.”
Or maybe you and your teen can set a goal of submitting 5 applications within a certain amount of time. Anything you can think of to gamify this tedious process will provide a little more incentive!
Partnering with your teenager to remind her of the importance of earning scholarships and then supporting and encouraging her throughout the process will result in a more affordable college experience.
Keep the conversation going! I’d love to hear about your tips for motivating your teen to apply for scholarships in the comments below.