“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Students don’t plan to fail in high school or in life. They unfortunately get derailed along the way by external factors and internal struggles. Looking at the nation’s graduation statistics calls us to action in examining how to help drive students to success during their high school matriculation. Roughly 1.2 million students did not graduate from high school in 2011; the lost lifetime earnings for that class of dropouts alone total $154 billion (Alliance for Excellent Education (Alliance), “The High Cost of High School Dropouts,” 2011).

If the nation’s high schools were to graduate all students ready for college, the nation would likely save as much as $5.6 billion in college remediation costs and lost earnings (Alliance for Excellent Education (Alliance), “The High Cost of High School Dropouts,” 2011). Nationally, 81% of the fastest-growing high-wage jobs will require at least some postsecondary education (Alliance analysis of 2008 data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), but we must get students to finish high school strong. It is for this reason, we are looking at the failures so everyone can be equipped to help high school students combat the failures and be positioned for success.

1. Lack of Preparation: Many teenagers are not challenged and have a lazy mindset, which leads to their ability to see the need for preparation. Consequently, they feel things should be done for them or given to them with little effort on their part. When parents and teachers don’t challenge them in this area, they set them up for failure as they plan to transition into post-secondary education.

2. Too Many Distractions/Lack of Focus: With social media, eReaders, iPads, smartphones, etc. teenagers have many toys to distract them in their lives. When you couple this with challenges in the home, their stress just compounds, causing them to lose focus. Parents and/or support groups must teach youth how to balance competing technologies and external elements so they are prepared for post-secondary educational challenges.

3. Poor Time Management: Managing time effectively is a critical to a student’s ability to balance multiple responsibilities that come with being in school (homework, projects, a job, social time, family obligations, etc.). It is important for them to learn this skill now prior to attending college that way they can learn from their failures in a less costly environment. Learning not to over commit oneself is part of finding balance to focus on what’s necessary and important.

4. Lack of Perseverance: Students must learn that everything in life is a process. Life is not a sprint, but a marathon. With that, there are lessons to be learned, obstacles to overcome and challenges to be conquered. Going through life thinking success, achievement and winning come easy is a false sense of hope that leads to nowhere.

5. Excessive Dependency of Thought: This is what I call the “Lazy Mentality” which is a byproduct of the “entitlement” generation. Youth’s inability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions/learning, or become solution oriented will cripple their future. Walking through life waiting on people to tell you what to do at every stage of your life will leave students on the sidelines of life. Having an independent mindset is what sets a young adult apart from being the “driver” in their life to being a “passenger.” Students must learn how to manage their life and not let life manage them.

6. Low Self-Esteem/Too much Self-Confidence: Having good self-esteem correlates with success later in life – mainly because good grades and confidence can allow a teen to start out with scholarships and other opportunities. It also helps youth make good choices. Consequently, the adverse effect of not having good self-esteem can paralyze one’s ability to grow and progress through life. On the opposite end, having too much self-confidence can be detrimental to a youth’s future. Thinking “I’m better” than someone or something reflects bad character and cause people to flee from you. Regardless of a student’s gifts and abilities, they must be humble and know how to interact with people, engage them and not drive them away. It’s the only way to attain success.

7. Sense of Entitlement: More and more we see examples of youth who walk around feeling the world owe them something. Taking this approach with their school work sets them up for failure because students don’t put forth the required effort needed to pass a class, win a game/competition or succeed. This behavior is a driving factor that shows up in other steps outlined here. Conversely, parents and leaders must work to correct this mentality in youth as it can be the most detrimental.

8. Fear of Failing: Failure is a fact of life and the foundation for all success. Nobody wakes up saying they want to fail, nor do they enjoy failure. The key is resilience and learning from the failure, changing in the process and growing toward success. Youth must be taught the importance of not wallowing in their mistakes, but learn the lessons quickly and move on.

9. Procrastination: Procrastination is the antithesis of time management and does not exist in the success formula. Doing things at the last minute is not only ineffective and non-productive, but it leads to stress, substandard/marginal work, and poor performance. Not correcting this practice at a high school level can prove to be harmful and costly at a collegiate level.

10. Inability to think Critically, Analytically and Creatively: this is one of the most deficient areas for the 21st century workforce. Companies are looking for people with these skills, but unfortunately this generation is being crippled by technological advancements and the lack of challenge. Students must be challenged to analyze situations, problem solve, be creative, intuitive and think critically both inside and outside of school.

Correcting and tackling these failures will help position students to successfully navigate the challenges of being a teenager and obtain a high school diploma. Regardless of their post-secondary goals, whether it’s a trade school, four-year college, or military obtaining a high-school diploma is necessary. So, let’s do it right. Get educated, empowered and enriched with knowledge. Take these failures and empower our youth to overcome to know they can overcome them, but it will require work, a plan of action and a support team. This is necessary to combat the grim graduation statistics presented earlier. Don’t let our youth be a statistic, they are destined for Greatness! So, get involved today and take action to propel our youth to the next phase in their life.

Author's Bio: 

Tameka Williamson, The WILL Power Success Coach, is the Best Selling Author of A Road to Success: The College Preparatory & Planning Guide and a Certified Coach, Speaker and Trainer for the John Maxwell Team, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a graduate of Southern University A&M College with a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and Webster University with a Masters of Business Administration. Tameka is focused on teaching and empowering people to Win Intentionally in Leading Life (WILL). Website: www.coachtwill.com & www.myowncollegecoach.com
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