A couple of years ago I wrote a post on the importance of aspirations and dreams. Back then, I was in what now feels like the rose tinted world of A-levels. Rose tinted because despite the hard work and heavier timetable, my aspiration back then was to get into a good university. That goal is a lot more concrete and tangible than say for example, the dream and aspiration to get a job that you enjoy post-university life.
However it is this aspiration to succeed in life, that drives nearly all of us. As I approach the end of my degree, I realise now more than ever, the importance of having aspirations and dreams which motivate you to go above and beyond the basics of whatever course or degree that you are doing. I work as a private tutor and the one thing I advise my GCSE and A-level students is that in order to find the energy to revise, they need to take a step back and have a think about why they are studying in the first place. If you are in high school, doing your GCSEs or A-levels, what do you hope to get out of it? What is your short-term goal? What do you plan on doing after achieving that short-term goal?
Students are usually told conflicting things. On one hand they are told to decide what they want to do with their lives, what exact career path they wish to go down. This can put a lot of pressure on students and so they are told by others to not worry, that they’ll find out what they want to do as they get older. The potential negative effects of this is that students focus completely on one particular field before realising they don’t really want to do that, or they go through their young adult life just cruising through education because they have yet to decide what they want to do in the future.
Admittedly, it is the second scenario which is more dangerous. The thing is, aspirations and dreams can change. That is ok. The benefit of having any sort of aspiration and dream though, especially as 15-18 year old student, is that it will make you focus on your studies. If you aspire to be a pilot or a journalist, you would understand that you need to build a strong foundation in order to achieve your goal. Then, when you get to university, if your goal does change, you still have that strong foundation which will hold you in good stead regardless of which career path you choose to go down. For many students, their source of motivation does not stem from their career goals, and that is perfectly fine. Some aspire to do well to make their parents proud. Some aspire to do well to make their community proud. Some aspire to do well in order to lift their family out of financial difficulties in the future. These are all perfectly natural and powerful sources of motivation, but it depends on the student. For example, if a student comes from a family where it is ordinary for their siblings and wider family to attend university, then they may not see it as that big a deal. However, a student who is the first in his family to attend university, may work even harder in order to be the first to succeed. Therefore, different students have different types of motivations. Very few are naturally motivated, they need to take a step back and have a think.
Whatever the case, the key thing is there should be something that motivates you as a student. You should not be simply going through the motions at school and sitting through classes listlessly. That has a knock on effect when it comes to revision, coursework and exams. If you don’t have something driving you, then it will be hard to keep up the marathon of revision and past papers that GCSEs and A-levels requires. You’d find it more difficult to tear yourself away from your phone or the PlayStation because there is nothing mentally pulling you towards your books.
Having aspirations and dreams to motivate you does not become any less important when you reach university. Even if you are paying £9,000+ a year to study, that on its own isn’t going to drag you out of bed for a 9am lecture or force you to do extra reading and research. You need something else to drive you forward.
It isn’t all about studying for exams and grades though. Aspirations and dreams have the added benefit of making you engage in extra-curricular activities. Even when you are studying for your GCSEs or A-levels, there are so many things you can get involved in that will help build your skills and experiences. Often, high achieving students ignore this side of things as they feel grades are the only thing that matters. No doubt, they are the most important but doing things beside your studies will prove to be invaluable when the time comes to apply for that dream job. When you get to university, there is a sense that the first year is simply a joke but take advantage of the relaxed nature of the year to get involved in clubs, societies and projects. You’ll find yourself learning new skills and developing as a person. Many students can’t be bothered to get involved, and that is usually due to a lack of motivation. They just want to get their degree and graduate but as we all know, in today’s job market, that does not guarantee you employment.
Until Next Time
A Worried Student