I’m having a hard time learning in school, what do I do?

If you’re feeling unmotivated or having a hard time learning in school, there are different kinds of support available to help you succeed.

Why am I feeling unmotivated?

There are many reasons that may affect students’ motivation, including:

  • how challenging or easy the subject is 
  • how much support you receive from educators and at home
  • your relationships with other students
  • whether or not you know what career path you’re interested in

It’s common for students to feel a lot of pressure at school for these reasons and more.

However, your lack of motivation can be a sign of something more serious. A lot of students who can’t find the drive or energy to focus and stay motivated may be struggling with their anxiety or depression. Other times, students may be struggling in class because of learning disabilities or some other neurodivergence. If someone has a neurodivergence, it means they learn, think, or behave differently from what’s considered more common, or neurotypical. 

If you think you may have depression, anxiety, or a neurodivergence, you’re not alone. You can get mental health help and learn more about how neurodivergent conditions affect students

How can my school help me succeed?

Students learn at different paces and have different needs, so simply going to class may not be enough to help you learn. Whether you’re in high school, college, or university, your school has many resources that you can draw support from. 

Here are some ways you can make the most of your school’s resources:

Ask your teacher or professor for extra help. If a particular subject is hard for you, let your teacher know. It’s their responsibility to figure out how to support you. They may offer to stay back after class to talk you through the lesson, connect you with tutors, or suggest some online resources. 

Make an appointment with your guidance counselor or students’ union. Counselors and students’ unions provide direct and individual support to students for their personal, social, and career development. They can help explore career paths with you, help you find other kinds of support (e.g., mental health), and advocate on your behalf. 

Join a club, sport, or other extracurricular activity. It can be hard to make friends, especially as a newcomer. One way to connect with other students is by joining an afterschool club or program where there’s more opportunities to socialize and have fun with people you share a common interest with.  

What can I do if my school doesn’t have the resources I need?

As a youth in Ontario, you have a right to free education and you MUST attend school from kindergarten until you earn a high school diploma. 

Once you graduate, you can choose to pay tuition to attend a public or private college or university.

The quality of education you get depends on many factors, including: 

  • if schools are getting enough money and resources to support students
  • if students are learning online or in-person 
  • the size of the classroom
  • if education workers are properly trained and paid fairly to do their jobs 
  • if students have access to additional supports they may need (e.g., ESL, mental health professionals, special education programs, etc.) 

The decision makers who influence all these factors include politicians, school boards, and university and college administrators.

You also have the power to affect change if you feel like your school isn’t meeting your learning needs as a student. Start by talking to your teachers and other students about your concerns. Brainstorm how you can raise awareness about issues that matter to you and try to join or form an advocacy group

In the meantime, here are some resources you can use to make sure you don’t fall behind: