Factors that Influence Your High School Success

Success in high school depends on individual values. Although parental guidance is vital throughout childhood and adolescence for modeling kids into decent, hard-working adults, teen behavior is not always the result of poor parenting. No one issue alone is big enough to impact their success as adults.

Some of the main issues today are as follows:

Peer pressure:

Teens constantly feel that they are pushed to meet the expectations of others. Many parents ask their teen, “Why do you always have to fit in?” It is very natural for kids to seek acceptance from others and to conform. In doing so, some of them sacrifice test scores, GPAs and family relationships. Peer pressure can influence teens to skip a class, smoke a cigarette, try a drug, or even engage in risky behavior. All of these issues put the student’s success at risk.


Teens are concerned about body image, peers, identity (including sexual orientation), parents, and meeting expectations from others.

According to Family First Aid, students with a poor self-image are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, use of drugs, depression, and mental/emotional issues in the future.

Parenting style:

Another controversial factor involved in high-school academic success is the style of parenting the teen deals with. Teens with laissez-faire parents have less guidance than is necessary to succeed and be properly prepared for college or life. Those with authoritarian parents may have more issues with self-esteem than peers and try to please others more.

An authoritative parenting style allows the teen to make mistakes but also requires the teen to explain the mistake. This helps to prevent similar mistakes in the future. This parent also does not try to be friends with his or her teen, because the parent knows there is a boundary between parent and friend (Parenting Styles).

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Focus is learned through extracurricular activities and parental teaching, or it can be a natural skill. If students know how to focus on one task at a time, or transition focus from one task to another quickly, it will help immensely in the future. Many teens focus on the wrong subject at the wrong time, and then homework does not get completed or handed in on time. This can lead to anxiety, cheating on exams, or skipping classes.

Extracurricular activities:

Many parents refuse to allow their children to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities. Reasons vary from religious to not spending enough time studying. However, statistics from the National Center For Education Statistics do show that teens who participate in sports or academic activities do better on tests and in the real world than those who don’t.

However, the practice of attending multiples sports as children have begun to do may be contraindicated. Time does need to be spent studying, and having a different activity each day of the week may be as detrimental as not participating at all.

Study skills:

In college, entire courses are dedicated to teaching study techniques. High schools teach these lessons briefly and often before an important exam, and the lessons are not often effective enough. High school should be the time to teach the lessons needed to succeed in college, and there is plenty of time in most seniors’ class schedules for a course on study skills as preparation for college, rather than study hall time.

Teaching ability:

A good or bad teacher can affect a high school student’s self-esteem and motivation to learn. Bad teachers don’t just lack the ability to present material to class. Bad teachers come in all shapes and sizes, and the worst are the ones who publicly humiliate students, don’t answer questions or act like questions shouldn’t be asked.

A good teacher can inspire a college major or school, help students work out important decisions, and make students want to go to school every day. Along with good friends, great teachers can be just what students need to want to succeed.

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Although some teachers are better than others, it is also important for parents to teach kids coping skills so that teachers cannot be to blame for all poor grades. Flexible teens can accommodate any teaching style, and they will be able to adapt to various management styles later in life.

Immediate gratification:

Most parents know that teenagers have trouble with delayed gratification. When a teenager has an idea in his or her head, it is very difficult to reason. This causes issues with teachers as well. For example, a teenage girl has a crush on a boy and learns his number. Rather than wait until school is out for the day, she gets out her cell phone and texts him mid-class. Her anxiety is so high that she cannot wait until later to find out if he really likes her or not.

This type of thinking is part of the reason it is so difficult to keep teens motivated to attend classes, pay attention to the lecture, take notes, study, or return home before curfew. This is why teens should have a set schedule from before high school that carries through into the senior year. It may seem silly, but if parents took a look at the student’s homework and made sure he or she completed all assignments before going out, talking on the phone, or engaging in any other distraction, kids would also more likely take advantage of parents’ help on assignments.

Real life preparation:

The younger years of a child’s life should be spent teaching him or her the “rules” of being a decent human being. The environment around kids teaches roles and responsibilities, morals and believes, and influences his or her attitude. Around the time a teen is supposed to graduate from high school, he or she should have the necessary tools available in order to make the important life decisions adults make every day.

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School should be teaching teens these tools, but this does not happen. Yes, schools somewhat prepare kids to take exams and get into college. However, the life one leads in college is so different from the life led in high school previously. It can often be overwhelming for teens, particularly ones with any type of learning disability or emotional issue.

Also, schools focus way more on college discussions than any type of real life lessons. For example, what about the teen who is certain he or she does not wish to attend college? When most of our parents were young, not everyone went to college. Today, not attending is considered almost taboo. However, not much more than half of the population of the United States attends college at all until much later in life.

Rather than attempting to change a mind made up, schools could focus on teaching non-college-seekers other types of lessons about the hardships of life and how to handle problems. Perhaps this would help those without a college education achieve their own type of success.

Considering all of these factors, it is absolutely possible for high school students to be successful. Not every teen will obviously be valedictorian, but with the right motivation, attitude and support system, teens can certainly achieve what they consider to be their own success.