64% of Sixth Form Students Struggle To Stay Motivated For Their Future
- 64% of College and Sixth Form students say ‘keeping motivated in my studies and/or job search’ is among their biggest challenges.
- 57% say the same of ‘taking care of my mental health’.
- 38% of these students feel uncertain about what they want to do for a living.
- The current generation of global students could lose $17 trillion in lifetime earnings because of missed learning and skills.
After two years of lockdowns, online learning and economic precarity, there are a number of reasons we might assume college students face a uniquely tough future. But instead of the numerous material challenges that lay ahead, it may in fact be a psychological barrier that keeps the latest crop of students down.
Moneyzine.com can reveal that students aged between 16-18 say that keeping motivated is the biggest challenge they face - and it could have a serious impact on their future prospects.
The great motivation shortage
A large survey of College and Sixth Form students asked what their biggest challenge had been in the last year. The two most common answers were ‘keeping motivated in my studies and/or job search’ (64%) and ‘taking care of my mental health’ (57%).
Part of these motivational difficulties may be explained simply by a lack of direction: 38% of these College and Sixth Form students say they are ‘not very certain’ or ‘not certain at all’ about what they want to do for a living. But this is not simply a question of adolescent direction lessness.
Another study found that half of all school students feel less motivated to learn since the pandemic. Perhaps more worryingly, a US study has found that the pandemic has primarily reduced students’ ‘intrinsic’ motivation - that is, their desire to do things purely for its inherent value or pleasure.
The long-term impact
College and Sixth Form are particularly pivotal years; whether it’s sitting their A-levels, choosing what to study or applying for jobs and university, the decisions college students make have a significant effect on their entire future. Which means unusually low motivation is a serious concern.
They are already entering the world of higher education and work at a challenging time; it’s estimated that the current generation of global students could lose $17 trillion in lifetime earnings because of missed learning and skills. A lack of motivation at this pivotal moment could exacerbate their predicament.
Fixing the problem
Interventions are needed to ensure students get the kind of support that will genuinely help them. Surveys show that the majority of these students have received careers and CV guidance, talks from employers, careers workshops and job fairs. But what they really need is help understanding how to motivate themselves - and why it is important.
While these findings are dispiriting, they at least make the problem very clear. The next step is to properly address it. Could that be through a fundamental rethink about how we approach higher education? If students feel unmotivated, perhaps they should put off university - and study when they really want to, not when society tells them it’s time.Luke Eales, CEO of Moneyzine.com