How to Help Students Identify Their Passions

Posted on

May 7, 2018


Greg Kaplan

Extracurricular Actvities

For every student that has it all figured out there is one that doesn’t.  That is OK.  High school is about exploring what inspires our children.   

Given how busy our kids are, it may seem challenging to empower them to find their passions. The most important part of helping out kids find them is to give them the time to do so.  Be strategic with their time. Before committing to an activity or class that requires a large time commitment, ask why they are signing up for it and if they are genuinely interested in it. 

Sometimes identifying a passion requires us to work backwards.  Asking where a student sees herself in ten years often yields interesting and unexpected answers.  We can work backwards if we have an interest in a destination.  Identifying opportunities that are consistent with what a student wants to do later motivates them as it becomes clearer that their efforts are linked to their own unique goal. Often this requires suggestions for something that builds off an existing skill set.  A student who loves video games may find coding to make them exciting, while a student that loves playing basketball may see the connection to sports medicine. 

Do not be afraid to tie exploring passions to students’ favorite hobbies, even if they are not academic in nature.  I work with a student who is a dedicated surfer.  Some may ask how surfing can be tied to a college application.  That question misses the mark.  Successful college applications can be based on any activity that matters to an applicant.  In this case we wanted to demonstrate the positive role that surfing plays for him and others. The student tied surfing to fundraising for a cure for a disease.  This student created amazing surf calendars to sell and donates the proceeds to a disease research foundation.  He was able to tie surfing to his interest in healthcare.  While this student is genuinely interested in healthcare, we can motivate our students to explore their interests by creating a link with career paths to the activities that our kids love to participate in. 

Be open minded and work together creatively to explore what excites them.  This may involve trial and error, but they will become wiser and stronger as they determine who they are and what they want to become. 

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