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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 they know what they're interested in - and pursue something at least related to that interest - it doesn't really matter what they do.

For example, if they love engineering, fixing things, and learning how machines work, there are a multitude of summer quests that would suit them. Here's are some ideas:

  1. Volunteer as a greeter, ticket collector, or tour guide at the local Air & Space museum
  2. Take a small engine repair class at a local community college
  3. Buy, rebuild, restore, and sell old abandoned bikes that you find in the neighborhood
  4. Work as a runner on a construction site
  5. Intern at a local metal fabrication shop
  6. Apprentice under a local plumber, handyman, or engineer
  7. Buy and assemble a drone from scratch (and learn how to operate it)
  8. Collect dozens of old machines, computers, pagers, fans, fax machines, heaters, and microwaves and make it your mission to break each one down to its component parts

 As you can see, there is great diversity among these activities. They include unpaid volunteer work, education, entrepreneurship, paid positions, and self-directed projects.

All of these experiences would be very interesting, appropriate, and aligned with their interests. Any one of these activities would likely reinforce (or not) their stated interest in all things mechanical.

There are great advantages to pursuing a Summer Quest related to what they're interested in. If they did, in fact, enjoy the summer activity, they can feel confident in their intuition and continue exploring their interest into the school year and even into next summer. This pattern of interest will give admissions officials a very good sense of who they are.

If they discovered that they really weren't as interested as they thought they might be, then they've learned a great lesson as well - and one that they'd rather learn before college.

Make a list

Have your child Jot down the top 2-3 things that they are interested in, and then brainstorm on what they might be able to do over the summer to test that theory. Get creative. Be resourceful. Stretch them out of their comfort zone. Take risks.

The more unconventional, fun, and out-of-the-box it is - the better. These experiences make for fun and engaging college essays, too.

Please share some of your interests and brainstorming ideas below for the benefit of the PrepWell Community.

Prep On,

Author: 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, etc.

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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