As a teenager, it can often feel like you’re not in control of your own life. You have no choice in whether or not to go to class, and even your hours at home are often taken up by school work and extracurricular activities. The coronavirus pandemic made things even more stressful for many with the resulting isolation and having to attend classes from home. But even if you find yourself constantly thinking, that you absolutely hate school, there are ways to make it more tolerable such as talking with an online therapist.
A good exercise is to journal about exactly what you hate about school and why. Start with the prompt, “Why am I hating school?” and see where it takes you. Then, take some time to brainstorm solutions. Write down everything you can possibly think of, even the ideas you can’t see yourself acting on. After you’ve brainstormed ways to tackle the problem, show your list to people you trust, such as your good friends, siblings, or parents, and get some feedback from them. They may even have additional ideas that you can add to your list! This should help you feel more confident and supported.
Next, identify which of the solutions you’ve listed are the most practical. What can you put into action tomorrow? What are you most likely to actually follow through with? Choose an idea or two from your list of solutions to create an action plan. Then, all you need to do is put it in motion and stick with it! Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support, because many others hate or hated school as well.
The first step in improving your school experience is to identify exactly why you hate school. Below, we’ve compiled many of the main reasons teenagers tend to hate school, and we’ve provided potential solutions for each of these reasons that may make you like school or even love school a little more than last year.
Solution #1: Learn organizational skills.
One great way to keep everything straight is to carry around a planner throughout the school day. You can write down what you did in each class, any homework to complete, and any upcoming quizzes or tests. You can also keep track of extracurriculars and other responsibilities in your planner. Choosing a planner that matches your personality and decorating it accordingly can encourage you to use it regularly. It’s also smart to keep separate notebooks, folders, or binders for each class. Color-coding your materials can help you keep everything straight as well. There are many helpful organizational tips online that can also help you as long as you’re willing to seek them out!
Solution #2: Develop your study skills and coping skills.
Test anxiety is no joke, and many teenagers experience it on a regular basis. Learning how to keep yourself calm and collected with healthy coping skills can help, and figuring out your learning style and applying it to your study time can make it much easier to retain information. You can also speak to your school counselor and your teachers regarding your test anxiety. They may be willing to make accommodations for you like letting you take the test in a separate room or without a time limit.
Solution #3: Seek out help.
If school is beginning to affect your mental health, don’t suffer by yourself! Instead, go to your school counselor or another mental health professional. They can act as a listening ear and a source of additional solutions.
Solution #4: Develop healthy coping skills.
It takes effort, but developing effective and healthy coping skills is a great way to relieve stress. Breathing exercises, regular exercise, creative outlets, and seeking support from friends and family are all good ways to handle stress.
Solution #5: Evaluate whether you can drop any activities.
If you’re extremely involved in school and extracurricular activities to the point that you have no time for yourself, it’s necessary to take a good look at everything you’re involved in and decide whether you can drop any of the activities. If you can eliminate one or two things from your schedule, replace them with time to relax and give your brain a rest.
Solution #6: Work on your time management skills and add a study hall to your calendar.
This may not always be possible, but if you have any electives that aren’t extremely important to your future, it may be helpful to drop a class in favor of adding a study hall to your schedule. A study hall provides you with additional time during the school day to get your homework done and reduce the number of hours you spend on homework outside of school. Improving your time management skills can also help; try doing homework with your phone in another room to eliminate distractions and work hard to improve your concentration. You should also take regular breaks while doing homework to keep your mind sharp.
Solution #7: Handle the situation yourself or reach out for help.
Bullies want you to react to them, so if you can, simply ignore the bully or act like they don’t bother you in the slightest. Soon enough, they’ll get bored and stop picking on you. But if you don’t feel like you can handle the situation on your own, don’t be afraid to speak with a teacher or other adult who can take action against the bully. This site has some great tips about how to respond to bullies as well.
Solution #8: Work with your teachers rather than against them.
Try putting yourself in your teacher’s shoes. Maybe the students in your class are rude or disruptive or not paying attention and your teacher feels that being strict is the only way to get through to them. The key here is to adjust your mindset and focus on the positive aspects of the teacher and the class. However, if there is a truly serious problem with the way your teacher behaves toward you, it’s a good idea to document any incidents and get your parents involved.
Solution #9: Establish better sleep habits.
It’s normal for teens to struggle to wake up in the morning, but if you can establish better sleep habits, it can make a huge difference. Going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday creates a consistent routine, and setting aside seven to nine hours to sleep will make you feel much more refreshed and capable in the mornings. You should also try to avoid screen time for about an hour before bed since the blue light given off from your devices can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Solution #10: Speak with your teachers and work on reducing social anxiety.
If you’re so anxious about getting called on or speaking in front of the class that it affects your performance in school, it’s a good idea to go to the school counselor or another mental health professional so that you can talk to them about social anxiety. They may be able to suggest ways of improving your social skills, reducing your anxiety, and increasing your confidence. Speaking to your teachers may also be helpful. Some teachers may allow you to complete alternate assignments rather than class presentations, or they might let you present your project in front of them before or after school rather than in front of the entire class.
For some teenagers, it may be best to get out of your current school environment. This might mean transferring to another school, asking your parents to homeschool you, or potentially dropping out and getting your GED. Generally, these options shouldn’t be considered unless you’ve already done everything in your power to work through your problems at school. Your parents may also want you to speak with a mental health professional so that they can hear their perspective and suggestions regarding your situation.
If school or low grades are having a negative impact on your mental health, it’s always best to reach out for help rather than trying to handle everything on your own. If you’re interested in speaking with a counselor, BetterHelp might be a good option for you. BetterHelp is an online therapy platform for adults ages 18+ that matches you with a certified therapist. If you are aged 13-19, the exact same services are offered through TeenCounseling, specialized to fit the needs of teens. You can meet with your therapist weekly for text, phone, or video sessions where you can really dig into the issues you’re experiencing and work through them effectively. Your therapist will also be available for messaging 24/7.
“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.”
Here are some of the questions that students have related to having a hard time with academics.
Why does school even exist?
School exists as a teaching experience for students to learn critical life skills. Although factors like mean classmates, a lack of specialized education, or bad grades can make students hate learning, they are meant to teach the stuff that is needed to get a job in the world someday.
If you want to go into a special course in college, you’ll need the lessons you learned about reading, math, and more. A student may have a hard time getting into the college they want if they didn’t have good grades in the past.
Not everyone goes into a higher education degree, however. Your past doesn’t have to determine your future. If you think that school makes things worse for you now, it may be a sign that it isn’t for you. Always talk to your mom, dad, or caregiver before making a big decision in the spur of the moment, however. There may be other options available. You can even search for a new institution that is more comfortable for you and reduces worry.
What should I do when hating school?
If you hate school, you don’t have to get in trouble by skipping class or deciding to drop out without telling your parents. There are ways to reduce worry and learn to deal with the things that make you tired or stressed out. When students hate the institution, there is usually a reason.
Perhaps kids are bullying you at the bus stop when you go to catch the bus, or you always struggle to do well in your first class of the day due to feeling tired. Did you know that alternative academies are available across the country for kids and students that need extra help? Search for “alternative academies near me” to find one. You can catch the bus later in the day or have a shortened schedule. Or you can go to an institution with more one-on-one help so that you don’t have to struggle in class.
Academies in the US offer kids the possibility of a learning plan or accommodations if they have a learning disability or disability of any type (including mental health problems). You can potentially search for advocates as well if you need one. Some institutions have mental health groups during lunch where kids can talk to a counselor or friend.
Don’t expect that dropping out is your only option. Academic institutions want every kid to succeed, and they can’t guess what you’re going through if you don’t open up. If you’re looking for a sign to get help, now is your chance.