A friend of mine attended a very nice small college in Pennsylvania. Several years ago, she had gotten together with her college girlfriends for somewhat of a college reunion. Instead of reuniting at their alma mater, they chose the Georgetown area of D.C. due it's central location for all.
While they were there, they visited the Georgetown University campus. She had never been to Georgetown. If you have never been there, it is so beautiful. The atmosphere is unbelievable. The history is amazing. The cobblestones. The buildings. Just beautiful.
After her weekend there, she said, “If I had known in high school that there was a college like Georgetown, I would have worked a lot harder.” Her statement struck me. What she is really saying is, "If I had the vision to go to a school like Georgetown, I would have worked much harder in high school to assure that I could go to an elite school like that." So, now I suggest to my clients that they visit Georgetown, or a similar school close their hometown early in their high school career.
I advise them to choose a school that has great academics, facilities, sports, etc. University of Virginia, Duke, Princeton, University of North Carolina, Boston College, Harvard are just a few that come to my mind.
Visiting these campuses early into a high school career will plant images of what to work for academically and enhance internal motivation for young student-athletes. The key is not to force them to study, but rather show them the options they could have if they put their mind to it. Once that vision has been created by visiting the campus, set short-term academic goals which will enhance motivation, intensity, and focus to help make that vision a reality.
For example, one of my clients had a lower than average GPA going into his Junior year of high school. His dad had asked me to work with him because he had just given up trying to find a way to motivate his son.
In my first session with the son, I asked him, “So, where do you want to play in college?” He answered, “I don’t know.”
Then I asked him, “So, where do you want to go to school?” He answered, “I don’t know.”
Then I knew why he had a problem with motivation… Why bother? He had no vision and wasn’t working towards a specific goal. Instead he was just coasting along – doing well enough to not fail but not working hard enough to improve his academic performance.
He and I started to visualize what it would be like to go to big schools and watch football games in huge stadiums. Go to tailgate parties before basketball games with 15,000 classmates in attendance. We created images of what it would be like to go to a great school. The more detailed the image, the better.
While I am a big proponent of goals, I am a greater proponent of a vision (goals help us actualize the vision). By the way, his GPA during his senior year was 94%.
If you want to increase motivation in school, create a vision for the future. Set goals to accomplish the vision you created. Go see a high-end school like Georgetown. Create your own images. Work towards something, not just aimlessly go about school. Then strive to achieve your vision.