3 Tricks to Motivate Teens to Apply to College and Scholarships

Did you imagine that your teen would apply to numerous colleges and win gobs of scholarship money only to find they won't fill out the first application? Some students are very self-motivated and will only need some overseeing and direction when it comes to the college application process. But if you have a teenager that lacks motivation, don't throw in the towel yet! I want to share with you a few tricks that FINALLY worked for us to motivate teenagers to apply to college and scholarships.

Some "unmotivated" students may lack direction and self-discipline.

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But often teenagers that seem to lack motivation are more likely terrified! College, scholarships and graduation can all sound exciting, but as life draws closer to the end of high school years, some kids will freeze.

But that's OK! We are smart moms and we can figure this out WITH our teenagers.

3 Tricks to Motivate Teenagers to Apply to College and Scholarships

So how does a mom, unfreeze their student, get them moving through their lack of motivation and even enjoy the process? Let me introduce you to three great ideas!

Create a Weekly Date to Discuss College and Scholarships

My shining moment was when I discovered this little jewel. If one of your student's main reason for procrastinating filling out applications is that they are feeling overwhelmed (or even a little stubborn:), well then let's break down the process.

Set a time each week to discuss college and scholarship goals! This will greatly help motivate teenagers to apply for college and scholarships!

My teen and I set a time once a week to discuss college and applications.


This meant that I (mom) wasn't nagging him randomly throughout the week. He knew what tasks he was in charge of for that particular week.  And meeting once a week to discuss college and scholarships, took a HUGE scary goal and broke it down into smaller weekly size goals.

I found that my teen actually followed through with his weekly tasks and didn't procrastinate. And I kept to my end of the bargain to not nag because I knew I would have a time to discuss and bring up what I had been thinking. Psst...make sure to write it down mom, because you will probably forget! Ha!

Setting a weekly date to work on college and scholarships helped us make headway on the college application process. AND meeting weekly allowed our relationship to improve as my teen was no longer avoiding me for fear that I would start talking college!!:)

Use Summer Between High School Junior Year and Senior Year

The summer between your teen's high school junior year and their senior year is golden!  We want to use that time, when they are not in school to create a college or trade school wish list, write a personal essay, discuss their interests, gather some great references and apply for scholarships.

Ideally, teens will have spent their junior year visiting some colleges and trade schools, getting a feel for what is out there.

Teen struggling to figure out his or her interests? Read here!

So summertime is a great time to jump into applying for college. Some of the tasks I encouraged my teen to focus on was to work on a personal essay, finalize school choices and ask for references.

Most colleges want some sort of personal essay. And as this essay can be the difference between standing out and being passed over, you want your teenager to take some time writing this (and dare I say rewriting).

Each school they apply to may ask a slightly different question. And most scholarships ask a variety of personal questions. But if your teen has a well written essay or two completed they will be way ahead of the game. They will have more experience writing a meaningful essay and often they can tweak the same essay for multiple applications.

Requesting references is also a important task to get started on during the summer.

For scholarship purposes you NEED references! Some scholarships will ask for as many as 3 references. So ask now because some people will not follow through and others may forget, delaying the process!

Check out this Summer Before Senior Year Checklist from Laura at Almost Empty Nest!

Invest in Smart Resources to Win Scholarships

Trying to win scholarships is like going down a rabbit hole. You can go in and just keep going. And so many sites you land on are just scammy sites that don't truly help! You can waste hours, only to find out that the scholarships are not real.


So here are 2 things to keep in mind when it comes to scholarships applications. First, think local when you look at scholarships AND invest in some help to navigate the scholarship territory.

Local scholarships are a great way to win money for a student who is a good, solid student. Most high schools have a list of the local scholarships that are given out by local businesses, lions clubs, private donors or schools.  Also look at your work place and churches.

Invest in some help. It will save you so much in time, and your teen will be less frustrated!  I appreciated Lee Binz, The Home Scholar, coffee break booklets. They were easy to read and quickly gather lots of information. I felt like they gave me a better overview of the college and scholarship process.

Even though I had gone to college, it all feels new and overwhelming the first time you walk with your student through the process. Lee Biz's short booklets helped get me up to speed!!

I enjoyed The HomeScholar Guide to College Admissions and Scholarships. The booklet is geared toward homeschoolers, but I think that everyone can benefit. And the simple format is so easier to get through that I recommend it often!

Monica Matthews of How to Win Scholarships is someone that I wished I had known before!! She is a mom that figured out how to win scholarships for her son ($100,000 worth) and now helps other moms just like you and me. Her blog has weekly scholarships to apply to that have been hand picked by Monica! She has also put all her tips and tricks into her parent and teen guides that you can find here!

I just love that she is doing so much of the scholarship work for you! When she recommends a scholarships you know that it has been vetted. Plus she highlights who the scholarships is for and the important dates and details to keep in mind. Check out her amazing time saving site here at How to Win Scholarships!

3 Tricks to Motivate Teens to Apply to College and Scholarships

So to recap:

  • A Teenager's Lack of Motivation May be a Result of Fear or Feeling Overwhelmed

  • Create a Weekly Date to Discuss College and Scholarships

  • Use Summer Between High School Junior Year and Senior Year Wisely

  • Invest in Smart Resources to Win Scholarships

Is your teen thinking about college? What is the scariest part for you or your teen? Do you have any tips to add that helped your family? Share and comment below!!