PrepWell Podcast


Ep. 186 | Summer Goals (9-12th grades)

Summer goals for 9th - 12th graders

Show Notes:

 In this episode, I review a series of baseline summer goals for each grade (9-12th).

If you want to know whether or not you're on track, please give a listen.

Show Transcript:

00;00;24;28 - 00;00;56;03

Hello, friends, and welcome back to the PrepWell Podcast. In today's episode, I'd like to talk about summer goals across all four age groups rising freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. What are some things that you can focus on this summer to set yourself up for success down the road? After all, that's what PrepWell Academy is all about. Learning about things that will matter early enough so that you can plan for, prepare for and succeed in those things.

00;00;56;05 - 00;01;20;07

Obviously, there are a lot of very specific goals that we could solve for, and I do that with many students on a one on one basis over Zoom. But for our purposes in this episode, I will assume that all of you at a minimum, want to be successful in the general college admissions process. You may have more specific goals than what I suggest today, and that's great.

00;01;20;09 - 00;01;49;14

If you're an aspiring college athlete, for example, you'll have plenty of fitness and recruitment related goals to solve for. If you're interested in a service academy. You'll have leadership and volunteer work on your to do list. If you have your sights set on MIT, there will be some extra things you'll want to do as well. But in this list, I will be covering things that every student should be focused on during the summer, whether they want to go to the local community college or to Yale.

00;01;49;17 - 00;02;11;19

So let's get started. What should my goals be this summer if I am a rising freshman? This case is very familiar to me because I have a rising freshman son who's trying to get into his summer groove right now. My advice to him, as well as to all of you, is to focus on two things. Reading and math.

00;02;11;21 - 00;02;35;11

And I know this may sound overly simplistic, but hear me out. First off, let's address the why. Why read and keep up your math over the summer. The short answer is because you need to get smarter over the summer. You need to improve. If you're not moving forward, you are moving backwards. So if you're not reading and doing math, you're actually getting dumber.

00;02;35;14 - 00;03;02;14

You're not maintaining the status quo. And we don't want that for you. By reading, you are improving your ability to read, which is quickly becoming a lost skill. You're enhancing your vocabulary, your spelling, your reading comprehension, your grammar and this reading and everything that comes along for the ride will help you on your S.A.T. or A.C.T. in two years.

00;03;02;17 - 00;03;30;17

You know, I often say that reading is the equivalent of studying for the S.A.T. becoming a strong reader, dare I say an avid reader will likely be the single biggest contributor to how you will perform on the S.A.T. or A.C.T., certainly on the verbal section, but also more broadly, how you will do academically. So put down the phone, the laptop, the tablet, the game console, and read.

00;03;30;20 - 00;03;54;00

How much should you read? I have no idea. I just know that the more you read, the smarter you'll be. That's a fact. So when students ask me, well, how much do I have to read this summer, I ask them. Well, it depends on how smart you want to get. If you want to go to Princeton, you better be ready to put in some serious reading time on the math side of things.

00;03;54;02 - 00;04;16;05

You need to find a way to challenge your math skills this summer that could take the form of Khan Academy, either a review of last year's material or maybe you want to venture into next year's material. It could be an online course from Coursera or from Udemy. It could be a summer school class like Ordeal. It could be with a one on one tutor.

00;04;16;09 - 00;04;39;03

It could be you and a math workbook that you take out of a library. It could be a mobile app. If you find the right ones, if you don't keep your math skills sharp, you will regress several months in your math knowledge. As I said, you will literally get dumber over the summer. They call this the summer melt because your brain function is melting.

00;04;39;03 - 00;05;12;18

It's deteriorating. Most math teachers say that it takes two or three months just to get kids back where they were before the summer. What a colossal waste of time. And again, when students ask me how much math they should do over the summer. My answer is it depends on how smart you want to get. If you want to go to M.I.T. or Caltech, you better put in significant time because there are students out there who are hungry to be successful and will go to extremes to get into MIT or Caltech.

00;05;12;21 - 00;05;39;06

Yes, even as a 14 year olds. So to summarize, if you want to remain competitive academically, I suggest you read an average of, say, 40 minutes a day and get on some kind of a regular near-daily organized math program that will help take you from point A to point B. Again, this is not necessarily a prescription for the Hotshots out there.

00;05;39;08 - 00;06;02;16

They will likely do a lot more than this. This protocol is what I would consider the bare minimum to keep your brain engaged enough so that you're not starting behind the eight ball next year. And I hope you take this advice to heart because it's far better to start off your high school career ahead of the curve as opposed to digging yourself out of a hole in a year or two.

00;06;02;18 - 00;06;27;24

How about rising sophomores? Rising sophomores need to follow my advice for freshmen as it relates to reading and math, but then also add another 50% of effort. So if a rising freshman read 40 minutes per day as a rising sophomore, you should be reading 60 minutes a day. Same goes for math. If you spend 30 minutes a day on math during the summer as a rising freshman.

00;06;27;27 - 00;06;51;03

Ramp it up to 45 minutes this summer. Why the increase? Because the demands and the expectations of you as a sophomore will be elevated and you need to match that level of intensity. And since you probably aren't old enough to get a job yet, presumably you should have plenty of time during a typical summer day to make this happen.

00;06;51;05 - 00;07;15;08

And I know there are some students out there thinking to themselves, Is this guy insane? One hour and 45 minutes per day of reading and math over the summer. That's crazy. Summer is supposed to be my time. It's supposed to be fun. I'm supposed to be getting a break from school and do whatever I want. I know that's a big negative ghostwriter.

00;07;15;10 - 00;07;39;14

I'm not sure what memo you were reading, but summer is not supposed to be a time for you to do nothing academic for three straight months. I know it's probably what 90% of students do, but that doesn't mean that it's supposed to happen that way. And speaking of math, let's do some. Let's say you get up at 8 a.m. and you go to bed at 10 p.m..

00;07;39;17 - 00;08;09;21

That's 14 hours. So please don't tell me that your summer schedule is so packed that you can't spare one hour and 45 minutes to improve your reading and math. That's absurd on its face. Sure. Take the weekends off if you must skip the reading and math on your family's ten day vacation. Enjoy life. But what about the other 85% of your summer?

00;08;09;23 - 00;08;32;05

I can almost guarantee that you can find a pocket of one hour and 45 minutes, five days a week to get ahead on reading and math. I challenge you to find me a student who can't make this happen. Again, I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not even suggesting that you should be jumping for joy and chomping at the bit every morning to get up and get your studying in.

00;08;32;08 - 00;09;05;24

Yes. It may not be exactly what you want to do over the summer. Oh, well, what's your point? Do you always get to do every single thing you want to do at all times? 12 hours and 15 minutes of free time every day just isn't enough for you? I don't think so. In addition to the baseline reading and math, I would like rising sophomores to take on some kind of personal project over the summer as well that helps them to explore an interest of theirs.

00;09;05;27 - 00;09;35;20

Let's say you're interested in business. Okay, well, what are a few things that you could do to further explore this budding interest? Play video games. Swipe and scroll on your phone. Hang out at the mall. Watch movies? Probably not. Maybe there are some things related to business that you could look into, such as taking an online accounting course or a real estate course or a data science course.

00;09;35;22 - 00;10;10;13

Learn how to use Excel spreadsheets. Enter an investing competition online with some notional amount of money. Follow podcasts like How I built this, or Gary Vee read books on business like Principles by Ray Dalio. If you're interested in investing and you could study episodes of Shark Tank, you could enter a business plan contest. You could volunteer at a nonprofit, something anything that will get you a little bit closer to knowing whether or not you actually like business.

00;10;10;15 - 00;10;39;08

And maybe what kind of business? How about rising juniors? This is an easy one. I would spend half of July and most of August studying for the SAT or the act. I've gone over many times in this podcast and in your weekly videos why this is important and how I would approach this project. Just a quick recap. I would right now take a practice SAT and A.C.T. in consecutive weekends.

00;10;39;10 - 00;11;00;20

You can do this for free from home. Email me if you want me to set you up to do that. I would then see the scores that you get on those two practice exams and see which one you did better on. If either one I would, then come up with a target score and compare that target score with what I just got on the practice.

00;11;00;22 - 00;11;21;06

In other words, maybe I got a 1280 on the practice S.A.T. I did at home. But my goal is a 1400. That would give me the information I need to figure out what type of study strategy I need to employ. Can I do it on my own with Khan Academy? Should I join a class? What about a one on one tutor?

00;11;21;08 - 00;11;42;17

Can I study on my own from a book? This needs to get sorted out by the end of June. Then you implement that plan in July and August with the goal of taking the actual test in September or October when you're not studying for the SATs or the act. Maybe you can get a job. Maybe you can secure an internship.

00;11;42;19 - 00;12;06;02

This would be a good time to do that. And then in addition to your day job or your internship or volunteer work, I'd also love to see you do some kind of personal project that will help you zero in on your longer term goals. Those goals may take the form of an intended major in college or a career that you think you might want to pursue.

00;12;06;04 - 00;12;36;17

Can you do something after hours that will help you to refine your thinking about a particular major or career? Can you start a podcast, publish some online articles, read books, watch TEDTalks, research a major or a career, take an online course, shadow somebody for the day, interview friends or family in your career field of interest. Get smarter about the major or the career so that you have something to talk about next year.

00;12;36;23 - 00;13;02;11

When you're filling out your application and taking interviews with college alumni, have something to say. Get a point of view. Become a subject matter expert. Get beyond the surface level of understanding of what you think you might be interested in. So in summary, the three big pillars are number one SAT prep. Number two, some type of day job internship.

00;13;02;13 - 00;13;31;14

Number three, a self-discovery project related to what your current major or career interest is. And finally, if you're a rising senior, you should be one looking for one final extracurricular activity that pulls everything together. To refining your target list of colleges based on your body of work. For the last three years, your S.A.T., your final GPA, your extracurricular activities, your what you think about your teacher recs.

00;13;31;17 - 00;13;54;23

And number three, you should be brainstorming and drafting your college essays. Are you also able to land one final job or internship or volunteer opportunity that is the culmination of what you've been working on for the last few years. That's not always easy to find, but it would be ideal. For example, let's say you've always wanted to go into medical research.

00;13;54;25 - 00;14;15;04

Maybe you were able to land a job working for a doctor at a local college, helping with research and writing for some grant proposal. That would be excellent. It would be a great use of your time because it's very relevant for what you want to do in college and beyond. It certainly would be better than working at in and out.

00;14;15;06 - 00;14;40;02

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you should be doing something. And now that you have a good idea of where you are with your grades and your SAT score and your AP scores, your letters of recommendation, your extra curricular activities, you should be able to assess what tier of colleges you should be considering. Is it going to be Harvard or Connecticut College?

00;14;40;04 - 00;15;08;02

Is it M.I.T. is at Cal Poly. This summer is when you begin to build that list. And lastly, you need to get a jump on your college application, particularly the essays. You should be brainstorming, drafting, redrafting, editing and getting ahead of the curve. The beginning of senior year will be very busy and you will not want to wait until school to start your applications.

00;15;08;04 - 00;15;34;01

Because remember, if you apply early to a college, which you will likely do, that means your entire application needs to be done by about October because November 1st is the deadline. That's why you need to get cracking on it right now. In summary, a rising senior should be focusing on one one final extracurricular activity that pulls everything together and tells a great story about where you're headed.

00;15;34;04 - 00;15;57;29

Number two. Building your college list. And number three, getting as far ahead as possible on the application and the essays. All right. That wraps up preparation ideas for each of the high school years. I hope these give you a little bit of an extra push and motivation to get your summer game on before we get too much deeper into the season.

00;15;58;01 - 00;16;24;06

Remember, these are baseline tasks that you should be doing for each of these stages of high school. The higher the ambition, the more selective colleges you're shooting for. These things need to be taken to yet another level. And if you need help customizing these tasks for your particular situation, I'd be happy to get on a one on one call with you and help you sort out and map out some of these finer points.

00;16;24;08 - 00;16;44;29

That's all I've got for you today, folks. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for your continued support. In case you didn't know, this podcast supports prep academies online mentoring program where high schoolers and their parents receive weekly videos from me, where I break down important topics and give timely advice about college admissions, particularly for top tier colleges.

00;16;45;01 - 00;17;21;02

Service academies, and for ROTC scholarships. Many parents who listen to this podcast already have their high schoolers enrolled in Prep Academy, which is great if you don't yet, please consider enrolling them. Registration is only open during freshman or sophomore year. After that, we no longer accept new students. So if you have a freshman or a sophomore in high school and you like what you're hearing in these podcasts and you'd like to get more content like this tailored specifically for your child for their specific grade, with their specific goals in mind, go to prep academy dot com and enroll today.

00;17;21;05 - 00;17;41;25

If you know a parent with a middle schooler or high schooler that might find this helpful, please share the episode with them and give us a rating too. If you get a chance. Word of mouth and positive ratings help our podcast reach a much wider audience. If you have questions, comments, or an idea for an upcoming episode, please reach out to me by email.

00;17;42;02 - 00;17;59;20

Demi on Instagram. Check out our blog, our Facebook page. Connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love to hear from you. Until next week, Goodbye. Good luck and never stop preparing.

00;17;59;23 - 00;18;22;25

This podcast is brought to you by PrepWell Academy. PrepWell Academy is my one of a kind online mentoring program that delivers to your ninth or 10th grader a short, highly relevant video from me every week. Every Sunday, in fact, where I give them a heads up about what they should be thinking about, to stay ahead of the game to get these valuable lessons into your child's hands.

00;18;22;27 - 00;18;28;20

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PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank (2X), etc.

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Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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