2 years ago
Admissions Advice

How do I get motivation and drive for school without thinking about college?

I am a sophmore and I am very worried over college. I have always wanted to get into a top school, but now that I am in high school ever since the pandemic I feel like I have less motivation and I can't handle anything. I always feel so panicked and stupid, how do I get over this?


Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

3 answers

2 years ago[edited]

Hi @lori,

Here's the thing. There is way too much toxic college admissions culture going on in America. It's like the Sneaker Hype, Fashion Hype, or Food Hype. The truth is you only should only get sneakers, clothes, and food you like to eat. Don't buy into the notion that you need something because everyone else wants that. Who cares if what's trending is $250 platform UGGS? UGGS are Ugly and beautiful celebrities wearing ugly shoes and clothes and eating $200 Wagyu steaks doesn't make it great.

The most important thing about picking a college is to stay away from the rankings lists and what your peers think a cool or top school is. Pick 10-15 schools that you personally have visited and have a strong connection with because you are going to be living there for 4 years of your life. If you hate the snow, don't pick a school in upstate NY, MA, NH, or ME. And if your politics lean one way or the other, pick a school that aligns with how you vote. If you love sports, pick a school that has a lot to choose from. If you like reading, writing, and drawing maybe a liberal arts college is better for you.

The truth about Top colleges is that 50% of the students that apply to Ivys, Elites, and the best LACs would probably be miserable there because there is a ton of work to do and it's they are harder than 99% of high schools unless you went to a Top boarding school like Andover or Deerfield. You don't want to attend these schools unless they are a great fit for you and what you want to achieve during your 4 years of undergraduate work. MIT is hard as hell and 90% of freshmen are sleep deprived and have some form of mental illness. Yet, they gut it out because what other choices to they have??? Transfer to UMass? Nope, they are going to tough it out and suffer.

Here's the other thing, unless your parents decided to curate a perfect academic narrative for you from the time you attended a private pre-school because they went to an Ivy League college and have the resources to make sure you have all the best teachers, tutors, add'l consultants, etc your entire K-12 career, most of the kids who apply and get into Ivys have a 10-12 year head start on you. And you can not make up that difference in a 1 year or 2 so you have to let that go and just try your best and find the best school that fits you. I'm not saying that high test scores don't matter but they don't matter as much as most people think.

When you watch YouTube college stats videos 99% of the Asian admits have 35s and 1550s on their test scores and 4.0 UWGPAS and took 12 APs and got 4 and 5s in them and did 10 incredible ECs and wrote incredible essays. They don't talk about a 1/3 of Harvard admits that get in with a 3.6 GPA and a 32 ACT or 1400 SAT because they were an athlete or a legacy. Why? No one at Harvard or Yale wants to say that through historical nepotism and connections they took someone else's spot that was more deserving of them.

Ivy League, Elites, and Top LACS are the only universities in the world that are not meritocratic. You can't pull that sort of clout at Oxford or Cambridge by saying you are a son of the Duke or Princess. There are no Legacy admissions at Oxbridge and it's been that way for over 50 years.

When everyone is toxic about colleges in HS and loading up on APs, doing SAT and ACT prep, and killing each other (figuratively) to be Class President or run some club or be the captain of a team or try to rack up 500 volunteering hours, it's all very unhealthy and causes group mental distress. A sensitive person could easily get depressed and cycle down into a mess. Unless you go to a Top boarding or day school, the truth that no one wants to talk about is that on average less than 1% of public high school graduates end up at a T20 college. It's like 30-50% for the affluent private HS applicants.

So do yourself a favor and start to think about colleges like you would picking a boyfriend or girlfriend. Be picky and make a list of things you want out of college and things you don't want or don't care about. Then this summer, plan a road trip with your parents and go visit 10-15 colleges that are an excellent fit for you. Pick the colleges you want to date.

Then when it comes time to apply to colleges, you will know where you want to be and it will be a pleasure not a pain to apply there.

If more HS students picked colleges they wanted to have a relationship with for 4 years, that would be a much healthier environment right? It's sort of ridiculous and silly for 100 or 200 people at your HS to be applying to the same Top colleges when maybe 5 are going to get in.

Even if you did go to Phillips Exeter or Choate or a Top 10 boarding school, their 10 college counselors who all have Masters or PhDs or went to law school would tell you upfront, "Billy, please don't apply to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton because you are in 3rd Decile and we only get 5-10 seats depending on the year and there are already 60 of your classmates applying there. But I encourage you to apply to Williams, Amherst, Brown, and Columbia." So even before the 200-300 prep school, seniors apply, and everyone knows their place and how the selection works. If there are 20 applying to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, then from the past performance they know that 6-7 will get into each HYP school which is about 30%. So it makes no sense for the rest of the class to apply to these schools. Private school counselors can pick up the phone call the Dean of Admissions at any T50 school and vice versa and trade horses even before the committee occurs. The trading begins when you apply to Top boarding schools. So you know where you stand in 8th grade because when you applied to the top 10 schools, they decided behind the scenes whether you should go to Loomis or Deerfield, or Andover. So you can be brilliant at applying to 10 top boarding schools and 2 might accept you, 3-4 might waitlist you, and 3-4 will reject you. They are shaping their 10 School league or 8 School league before you even step foot on campus as a 9th grader. It's deterministic and set. I have heard stories of rich kids offering to swap with other kids for their spots so in the dorms you might hear, "Jenny, I know you want to go to Brown more than anything, so I'll give you my Brown spot for your Yale spot. And you can use our CapeCod house for the entire summer." Something along those lines.

2 years ago

I've been in a similar position where I lost motivation and was hopeless for a period of time due to the pandemic. I regained my motivation when I started participating in extracurricular activities, taking up challenges, and more responsibilities. Taking up at least one more activity like learning a new language, volunteering, participating in school events, challenging courses etc. can be very uplifting. Working out and looking at the videos of people who got into ivy league colleges (their stats, activities, essays, reactions) etc. also proved helpful to me personally. Hope this helps!

2 years ago

There are a few things you can do to get motivated and driven for school without thinking about college. First, try to find a passion or subject that you really enjoy and focus on that. Second, set small goals for yourself and work towards them little by little. Lastly, don't compare yourself to others and focus on your own journey. Everyone's path is different and you'll get to where you want to be eventually. Just keep your head up and keep moving forward. I get this message from my friend of https://www.contentmajestic.com/ and this will also motivate you.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works