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Does your teen have their heart set on going to an Ivy League college or could they not think of anything worse? In this article we want to help you answer this question and harness its power.

One of our mantras here at The Study Gurus is that studying is a learnt skill, and that ANY teen can learn study skills and take steps to get the grades they’re capable of.

But, for a few really good reasons (which we’re about to explore), we all have to be realistic about what our teens should be aiming to achieve at high school.

As a parent, you have to ask yourself, what’s the goal here? What are your teen’s goals and aspirations? What do they want to do when they leave school?

A quick story

Here’s a relevant snippet from the McIlwraith family history books. My Dad had two older brothers, John and Jack (not their real names…). John, the eldest, graduated Dux (valedictorian), went to veterinary school, post grad, and to cut a long story short, has had a career glimmering with more accolades and achievements than one person should accumulate in a single lifetime.

Now Jack, younger than John by only two years, could not have been more different. Jack could not wait to leave school the minute he turned 15 (the age you could leave school in NZ back in the day). Jack hated school and had no interest whatsoever in pursuing anything traditionally ‘academic’. Jack loved cars. That was his passion.

So Jack left school at age 15 on the dot, got a job as a mechanic, and by his mid-twenties was managing a successful autoparts shop and happy as a clam.

The mystery of nature versus nurture is a fascinating one, and it often manifests itself in families. How could two brothers be so different?! But they were. Chalk and cheese.

Is your teen a John or a Jack?

Now, back to your teen. They might be a John, they might be a Jack. They might be somewhere on the long spectrum that exists in between John and Jack.

Knowing where your teen sits on the John to Jack spectrum could be HUGELY beneficial for them, and for you. If you both know what your teen’s goals, wants, needs, passions and ambitions are, then you can tackle high school as a united front.

What happens when your teen is a Jack but you think or want him to be a John? A recipe for a whole lot of stress and frustration and probably conflict between you and your teen.

Let’s be realistic. If your teen is a Jack, then getting straight A’s might not be an appropriate (or necessary) goal (but equally, they might be capable of getting any number of straight A’s if they put their mind to it).

We’re always going to encourage students to aim for the best grades they’re capable of, because getting a good education and keeping as many doors open as possible is something we want every teen to have.

BUT — your teen’s goals and aspirations will be unique to them, and in the long run, everyone is going to be much happier if you are supportive of those goals, rather than trying to push your teen down a path that they have no interest in.

Regardless of where your teen sits on the John-Jack spectrum, we’re here to help them achieve their study goals, so let us know what those goals are and let’s set to it!

Clare & Chris

P.S. If your teen is struggling with school, you’ll find some helpful tips in these articles:

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High School Study Advice | The Study Gurus