How and Why Teens Should Discover Their Passion

coachA passion. That seems to be a buzz word nowadays, but believe it or not, it could be a great thing for your teenager. Typically, when people talk about someone having a passion, they are describing someone who loves what they do and are good at it.

Why Does My Teen Need a Passion?

There are two good reasons that you want to encourage your teenager to find a passion. First, studies show that teens with a passion are much more likely to avoid risky behaviors. An adolescent that is deeply engaged in a positive activity is the same adolescent that usually doesn’t get involved in crime, drugs, sex, and other negative activities. Second, colleges are looking for teens with a passion. Most universities are looking for applicants that are talented, and not just in academics. In the past, many universities desired “well-rounded” students, but in today’s tough college market, the top-ranked schools are looking for a candidate that is focused and accomplished.

How Can My Teen Discover Their Passion?

Just like adults, some teens naturally gravitate towards a talent or strong interest, while others have difficulty identifying something they feel passionate about. That’s normal. If your teen doesn’t know yet what excites them, don’t be frustrated. Here are some tips on how to help your teen discover their passion:

Try a lot of different activities. Many teens won’t just stumble across their passion – they may need to find it. Encourage your teen to try lots of new activities and explore a variety of interests, especially between their freshman and sophomore years. Encourage your teen to pursue any activity that they may find interesting. Your teen may want to attend student activity fairs, sit in on club meetings, take a class in some new area, or talk to older students about their experience with certain activities.

Focus on a few specific interests. Have you ever heard the expression, “You can either be good at a lot of things, or great in a few things”? Many teens spread themselves too thin and never find their passion. By the end of their sophomore year, encourage your teen to pick two to three activities that they really enjoy and become active participants. It is beneficial to a teen’s development to focus their time and energy in just a few meaningful activities.

Create opportunities. Sometimes, teens just can’t find a club or activity that interests them. In that case, they should create their own! With some effort and creativity, teens can pursue their interest in a way that builds their college resume and develops their character. For example, even a teen who loves to spend all his time playing video games can decide to start a blog about their game, write a column for the school newspaper that shares insights and tricks, or create a video game club at school.

A Few Warnings for Parents

Sometimes we can push our teenagers too far in our desire for them to have a superior college resume. There are a couple of mistakes that parents should avoid as their teen explores activities:

  • You do not have to be the best. Parents and students do NOT need to become obsessed with winning awards or being the best at a particular interest. Though many pursue that route to build their college resume, students can better distinguish themselves by making an impact. When your teen is truly excited about a certain topic, they may develop ideas for how it can help others or improve the community. For example, a student that organizes a fundraiser by sharing their passion will develop their character and their resume much more effectively than a student who simply enters and wins a competition.
  • There is no “right” passion. While you might think that universities will be more impressed with volunteerism or athletic achievement, they are, in fact, most impressed with ‘authentic’ individuals. When someone is truly engaged in an activity, their passion shines through. So regardless of whether you think an activity is insignificant or not, let your teen’s natural talents and curiosity guide them to something that is unique to them.


Final Thoughts…

Having a passion brings enthusiasm to life, and that will mean your teen will benefit from having high energy, working towards goals, connecting with others who have similar interests, and joy in life.

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