How to Be Strategic About your Teen's Summers

 

How teens spend their summers has become an increasingly important piece of the college admissions puzzle. Objective measures like GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and transcripts can quickly become lifeless numbers in a sea of sameness. (Yup, another 4.0 GPA, check).

Admissions officers are being forced to look elsewhere to find what differentiates students from each other. They often turn to letters of recommendation, alumni interviews, and, of course, summer experiences. 

Let's start with the tactics, then we'll move into strategy.

Here are some options to consider for the summer:

Volunteer Work (FT or PT):

Volunteer work is easy to find, affordable, and can be full-time, part-time, or project-based. Not only does volunteer work show that you care about someone other than yourself, but it also allows a teen to gain real-world experience in a field or industry they enjoy. 

Paid Work (FT or PT):

Colleges love to see applicants who have worked at a paying job - of any kind. Sometimes,...

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How Teens Can Optimize Their Summer

Please don't underestimate the power of the summer.  It's a magical time for teens that can either be optimized or squandered.

Yes, colleges like to see your child engaged in interesting and productive pursuits during the summer, but that's only half the story.

The summer is also the time for your child to find out more about themselves. What do they like? What do they hate? What is it like to make money? What is it like to do manual labor? What is it like to work in a cubicle? What is it like to find a job?

These are invaluable experiences that teens need to live through to make better decisions in the years ahead.

I call summer activities "Summer Quests" because your child should be searching for something. Here are some things worthy of their search:

  • work experience
  • passion
  • education
  • travel experiences
  • fun and adventure
  • money
  • exposure

What interests your child?

The first place for your child to start when considering their summer plans is what they are interested in. If...

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How Heather Finally "Got It"

A lot of my days are spent trying to help teens unlock their "potential". If you are a parent or teacher, you know that this can make for some long days. 

Most teens are content to operate at 50% capacity. A few strive for more. 

The teens who care about their development, progress, and improvement are my oxygen.

Every once in a while, I catch wind of a PrepWeller who has figured it out.

Such was the case with a PrepWeller we'll call "Heather".

Heather started PrepWell Academy as a freshman and wasn't the most diligent PrepWell student of all time. She watched a majority of the videos but not without cycles of skipping and binge-watching. All totally normal. The program was designed with this dynamic in mind.

However, in early sophomore year, the proverbial lightbulb went off for her. All of a sudden, the terminology, advice, and guidance within the videos took on new meaning.

Heather "got it".

It wasn't long before Heather was engaged in the college admissions process as...

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10 Reasons to Become an Eagle Scout

My days are spent speaking with high school students across the country about their lives. In particular, about their interests, college admissions strategies, and life ambitions.  It's my passion.

After reviewing (and editing) hundreds of stellar college applications, resumes, personal statements, and college essays, there is one designation that captures the essence of what colleges are looking for in their prospective students - an Eagle Scout.

My job as college counselor and mentor becomes much easier when I'm working with an Eagle Scout. I know what it takes to make it through the program and it is not difficult to help Scouts express these attributes within their college applications.

Some people believe that colleges give disproportionate credit to Eagle Scouts in the admissions process. I beg to differ - and the 10 items below provide more than enough evidence as to why admissions officers sit up straighter in their chairs when reading the applications of Eagle Scouts.

...
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8 Moms Share Their College Admissions Experience

I recently attended a Workshop with eight parents (in this case, moms) who shared their best advice on how to handle the college admissions process.

They all had recent experience helping their children get accepted to Drexel University, UC Berkeley, Syracuse University, Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, Mesa Community College and others.

Here are the highlights:

WAS A PRIVATE COLLEGE COUNSELOR WORTH IT?

  • Most paid $3K - $4K for a private counselor
  • Lukewarm results
    • most seriously questioned whether it was worth the money
    • a few found it helpful
    • one found it invaluable
  • A few DIYers did not hire a counselor and used school resources to help
  • Most waited to seek counseling until their child proved to be unengaged
  • Strong positive: Offloading process onto someone other than mom
  • Some identified specific areas where counselors came in handy

INTRODUCE THE PROCESS EARLY

  • Don't wait until junior or senior year!
  • Most children procrastinate to shield themselves from perceived...
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How to Narrow Your College List from 4,000 to 14

 

Due to popular demand, I have posted this webinar as a blog post (with video) for those who missed it the first time around.

In this training, I walk you through a strategy to build (or refine) your child's college list. Many times, this is one of the biggest challenges during the college admissions process.

  1. What are the 4 critical steps and what sequence should they be done
  2. 3 case studies of high school students interested in engineering, science, and history
  3. A click-by-click tutorial that you can follow-along with to build your list

In a follow-on webinar, I'd like to address what comes next in the process. Namely, making sure that your list is "balanced" and that you can afford the colleges on the list. This is no small chore, either.

Please provide feedback or comments below with your experience with this process. 

Enroll in PrepWell Academy

Prep On,

   

Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's...

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One Dad's story...

Here's a testimonial from a PrepWell parent on why he chose PrepWell over other college counseling options:

[Note: This note was after his son and I had our initial 30-Minute Onboarding Session]


Phil,

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your initial views about J. I think you gathered as much insight as possible about him based on reviewing his profile and 30-minute call. And, frankly, it's really nice to read some of your initial impressions about J.

Given that I anticipate that this will be a multi-year relationship, I wanted to provide some additional perspectives that may help you as you continue to work with him:

I reviewed many options for college counseling before settling on you.

Among the things that stood out to me:

  • Your demonstrated accomplishments across a wide range of educational and professional opportunities
  • Your emphasis on the importance of long-term planning and preparation - truthfully, this is what "sold me" as it is very closely aligned to my own approach...
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College Admissions Advice - What are my options?

If you’re reading this blog, you are probably researching different ways to help your child (and you) prepare for the college admissions process.

Well, I’m right there with you. I have 4 sons making their way through this process right now, and I have a pretty good idea of what you’re going through.

In fact, the reason I developed PrepWell Academy, is because when I was in your shoes, I didn’t like what I saw when I looked at the available options.

The process appeared stressful, intimidating, expensive, and not well-balanced. It started TOO LATE (junior or senior year), and it focused so heavily the “application process” and “getting into College XYZ” and not about developing the “whole” student.

And it didn’t seem like the “process” had changed in over 30 years – despite the changes in expectations, competitiveness, cost, and the way the world works today.

So, I gave this a lot of thought. And...

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4 Tips To Finish the Summer Strong

By now, a lot of the summer "busy-ness" is winding down. After all, school starts in a few weeks for most of us.

I wanted to review a few things that you can do with your kids to get them back into a learning mindset. If you've been following me "live" every day on Facebook, you may have heard me discuss some of these issues in recent weeks.

(1) Math Brain
With few exceptions, most parents (unless they are PrepWell Parents) report that their kids have not done one ounce of "math work" this summer.  I don't like this one bit.  It's important that students keep up some level of engagement with math so that they are not starting next year from ground zero. Teachers confess that the first 3-4 months of the school year is spent reviewing last year's material in order to get kids' brains back in order.

Solution: Encourage your child to create a Khan Academy account (if they don't have one already) and work through the modules until they have achieved 100% mastery of last year's...

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Transition Night | From Middle to High School

From Middle School to High School

Many cultures, religions, and social groups mark the transition from middle school to high school with some type of event, celebration, or activity.

For my two sons, I decided to make up my own transition event. I wanted it to be fun, significant, and memorable.

The Search for Advice

I started by soliciting advice from trusted friends and family members about their personal experiences with this transition as well as anything they learned from ushering their own children through this phase of life.

I received a ton of exceptional advice.

The hard part was parsing it down into something that was accessible and not overwhelming.

I boiled down pages of input into 11 Key Words. These words, in my opinion, represent some of the most important aspects of life that a rising high schooler will face.

There are no right or wrong answers to this puzzle, but here are my 11 Key Words:

  1. Relationships
  2. Preparation
  3. "Good"
  4. Discipline
  5. Fun/Not Folly
  6. Patience
  7. Struggle
  8. ...
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