Things are weird right now. Students aren’t going to school, and professionals aren’t going into their places of work. Suddenly we’re all studying and working from home, and it can be really, really hard to carry on with business as usual. A common refrain we’re hearing is, “Does any of the stuff I’m doing actually matter?” It’s not a dumb question – after all, it seems like the world is upside down and that can make everything else feel pretty unimportant. But for the students who need to hear it, know this: the work you’re doing right now, whether it’s online, pass-fail, whatever, is not a waste of your time. And here’s why.

Ideally, the material you’re learning right now is fascinating. It’s going to be useful for the rest of your life, and you’ll use it constantly in your eventual major and career. Thank goodness you’re learning it! It’s obvious this info is worthwhile.

But now back to reality. That’s probably not the case for every bit of work you’re doing currently. A lot of it may even feel like busy work, But here’s the thing: no matter what you think about the specific work you’re doing, the huge, valuable, necessary life skill you’re currently learning during this weird chapter IS worth every bit of your time. You’re honing your ability to work independently, motivate yourself, manage your time, and stay focused.

There will be many, many times throughout college when you’ll be required to make your own schedule and find your own internal incentives to get stuff done. The vast majority of my own classes in college didn’t take attendance. With no one forcing me to show up, I had to force myself – and it always paid off during exams. After class, there are no parents enforcing curfews or telling you to study. You have to motivate yourself to sit down, focus, and put in the work.

The same can be said for what you’re doing right now. You’re not required to be at school eight hours a day, your iPhone doesn’t need to be tucked away in your backpack, and there aren’t any teachers watching you with eagle eyes. (Well, maybe your parents, but that’s not the same thing.) Things are much more flexible right now, and that flexibility often goes hand in hand with procrastination and apathy. But, if you use this time to your advantage and put in the work, you’ll have a leg up when you head off to college.

There is distraction and freedom (well, a quarantine version of freedom), and we’re all just trying to get through. Keep the momentum going, stay organized, and recommit yourself to finishing the year strong. Learn how to work independently, and figure out what helps you personally cultivate intrinsic motivation.

Simply put, this is a challenge! And it won’t be the last big challenge you’ll face, whether it’s in college or in your future career. You can either coast through with the bare minimum, or you can grow from it. The future you will be so, so thankful if you choose the latter.

Does your kid need extra convincing? Let us help.

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