5 Tips To Help Teenagers Who Don’t Like School

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated January 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Middle and high school can represent a difficult time in a person’s life. This phase comes with changes in lots of different areas, and the pressure to fit in and achieve success that many teenagers experience can make it even harder. There are a variety of reasons you may not like school, whether they’re social, academic, or otherwise, but there are almost always steps you can take to make things a bit easier on yourself.

5 Reasons You Might Not Like School, Plus 5 Solutions To Try

Depending on your age, you may still have several years of school ahead of you. If you’re unhappy with a particular aspect of it, some of the following tips might be useful. Let’s take a look at common reasons teenagers don’t like school along with a strategy that may help improve each one.

  1. You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

If school feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. Many teenagers find themselves with packed schedules, from classes and homework to extracurricular activities and even part-time jobs. Add in time for relaxation and hanging out with friends, and you might be fully booked. If what you have on your plate is truly too much, you might speak with your parents, a guidance counselor, or a therapist about what you may be able to reasonably cut from your agenda. 

It may also help to try out some new organizational tactics. Keeping a physical planner can be helpful, since you can see your weeks and months at a glance so you can plan ahead. There are plenty of planning apps for your phone that are available, too. You might also try color-coding your materials for different classes, setting phone reminders for important dates and assignments, focusing on one thing at a time instead of multitasking, getting into a reliable routine, and getting enough sleep. These are all strategies that might help you keep things organized and running smoothly.

  1. You Hate Getting Up Early

In general, teenagers need more sleep than the average adult because their bodies and brains are still growing. If you’re having trouble waking up in the morning for school, you may not be getting enough rest each night. Aiming for at least eight or nine hours is typically recommended. If you have trouble getting good sleep, you can try a few different strategies for establishing better sleep habits. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and sleeping in a dark, quiet room that’s at a good temperature are two. It may also help to limit your screen time, especially before bed. Research suggests that more smartphone use correlates with poorer sleep outcomes in teenagers especially, so putting your phone down at least an hour or two before bed may be beneficial.

  1. You Have Test Anxiety

Test-taking can be a major source of stress and anxiety for people in school. Most exams test knowledge in one, specific way, which can mean that people with different learning styles may not do well regardless of their grasp of the material. There can also be a lot of pressure from teachers or parents associated with getting good grades. If test anxiety is making it hard for you to like school, there are a few things you can try. First, learning some deep breathing exercises may help you keep yourself calm and focused when going into an exam. Next, you could meet with a tutor who can evaluate your studying and test-taking habits and help you find ways to do both more effectively. Finally, you can ask your teachers for accommodations if you have specific needs around test-taking. They may be able to grant you extra time or let you take the test in a quieter setting.

  1. You’re Being Bullied

According to the CDC, about one in five high school students report being bullied at school in the past year, and about one in six report being bullied online. Bullying is serious, and it can have a negative impact on you in both the short and the long term. That’s why seeking help is so important. According to stopbullying.gov, telling the bully to stop in a calm, clear voice can be effective in some cases. If you’re at risk for physical harm, however, walking away and finding an adult who can help is best. You may also want to speak with a teacher or counselor you can trust to help prevent future instances of bullying.

  1. You’re Experiencing Anxiety Or Depression

If you’re facing certain mental health challenges, it can be difficult to enjoy, do well in, or even go to school. At this age, anxiety can manifest as concerns about all kinds of things, from your academic performance, social life, and appearance to your future plans or family situation at home, to name a few. It can cause symptoms such as trouble concentrating, irritability, sleep problems, recurring fears and worries, and extreme self-consciousness. When it comes to depression, symptoms in teenagers can include crying spells, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, feeling easily frustrated, and low self-esteem. If you feel you may have a mental illness like anxiety or depression, there is help available. A school counselor or a licensed therapist can help you manage symptoms so that you can feel and function better at school and in other parts of your life.

How A Therapist Can Help Teenagers Who Hate School

Facing all the challenges that middle and high school may offer can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone. A therapist can provide you with a safe, nonjudgmental space where you can talk about what’s bothering you at school.

They can help you come up with strategies for building self-confidence, decreasing anxiety, getting to know yourself, keeping yourself organized, and lots more. They can provide support and guidance for whatever you’re going through, and they may also identify and offer treatment for any mental health disorders you might be experiencing.

You can speak with a mental health professional in person or online. Research suggests that online and in-person therapy offer similar benefits, so you can choose the method that works better for you. If you’re interested in the online format, a virtual therapy platform may be worth considering. BetterHelp is one option for online therapy for those 18 and older. It will match you with a licensed therapist who you can speak with via phone, video call, and/or online chat. TeenCounseling offers the same services but to those between the ages of 13 and 19, with parental consent. 

Regardless of your age or the therapy format you feel most comfortable with, know that there is support available to you as you face whatever challenges you may have in front of you at school. Read on for a review from a parent whose teenager met with a TeenCounseling therapist to address their troubles at school.

Counselor Reviews

“After initially being matched with a counselor who just wasn't working for us (slow to respond and not great about scheduling sessions), we've been thrilled with Savannah. She's really helped our son make it to the final weeks of the school year in a much better position than he had been. He feels more confident in his abilities, feels less stressed, is communicating more clearly, and is more aware of how his decisions impact his performance, and also how they impact others. She's also been so helpful to us as parents, just as a sounding board, and in getting us to think about our own choices. Really pleased.”

Takeaway

If you hate school, figuring out the main reasons for feeling this way is usually a good first step. From there, the tips in this article may help you address them. For those experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition or who simply want a safe place to process their emotions and get nonjudgmental support, meeting with a therapist can be helpful too.

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