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Summer is a terrible thing to waste...

Summer: A Terrible Thing to Waste

Does your child have a plan for the summer? 

Summer is one of the most important and often underutilized blocks of time in a teen's life. With few mandatory school commitments, the possibilities for growth and life experience are endless.

Unfortunately, end-of-school fatigue and the allure of "time off" can overwhelm even the most well-intentioned parent and child. Snap your fingers and "poof" - it's September!


One of the most important skills a teen can learn is how to think about the future (vision), how to plan for the future (preparation), and how to follow-through on a plan (execute). This skill will be repeated hundreds of times over their lifetime.

The skill is known as goal-setting - and should be taught and practiced sooner rather than later.

Summer is the perfect time and duration to practice this skill.

What We Teach

PrepWell Academy's Lesson (Week 2) is all about goal-setting.  I challenge students to not only think about what they want to accomplish this summer, but to write it down.

Most of us know that when we actually write something down, it becomes more real. The written word is a manifestation of our inner voice and serves as a private contract we make with ourselves in our minds (whether we like it or not).

I won't pretend that it's always easy to convince rising 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders to complete this assignment the same week school ends, but we have a great track record. 

When we conduct our pre-summer 1-on-1 sessions with our PrepWellers, our primary goal is to convince them to write their goals down on paper.

Of course, we give our students a wide range of ideas to spur their imaginations and a process to follow. The results have been truly amazing.

Within three days of our 1-on-1 Skype session, I received this write-up from one of my rising Freshman PrepWellers:

Goal #1: Volunteer Work
My first goal was to volunteer for at least 30 hours this summer. I will achieve this goal by being a volunteer camp counselor at my local church's vacation bible camp as well as contacting numerous service organizations to see how I can help out. I have already contacted XYZ Inc., 1234 Food Bank, and ABCDE Crisis Center.

Goal #2: Athletics
My second goal is to work on my lacrosse skills so I can make the varsity team by my sophomore year. I will attend as many club lacrosse practices as possible, attend two tournaments this summer (one is a college recruiting opportunity), go practice at the local high school with my dad every weekend that both of us are available to work on one-on-one skills, and also use my Lax Wall for stick skill practice at least 4X per week.

Goal #3: Computer Skills
My third goal is to improve my computer skills. I will begin working on my typing skills at 2X week. I will also participate in the weekly hour of code, as well as take advantage of Khan Academy's coding lessons, so I can learn the fundamentals of coding. Before the end of the summer, I am going to purchase a computer for me to use (and my brother if she needs it). A computer will be helpful for achieving what I want to get done this summer, and it will be very useful when school starts.

Goal #4: College Familiarization
My fourth goal is to visit two colleges during my summer vacations to the East Coast. My parents and I plan on taking a detour during our annual trip to XYZ, Connecticut, so we can visit some schools that interest me in ABCDEF. I will be responsible for choosing the colleges that I want to visit, signing up for a tour, and finding a hotel for us to stay at.

Goal #5: Shadowing
My fifth goal is to shadow two people. I am going to shadow my dad at his new job, because truthfully I have no idea what he does other than something that has to do with finance. I will also get to see what it is like to work in Seattle. I am going to find another local person or family friend that I can shadow who is involved in an area that I am interested in, such as law, technology, engineering, or medicine. I will write them an email to see if they will allow me to shadow them for the day.

Goal #6: Journaling
My sixth goal is to journal once a day. Journaling will help me gather my thoughts, write down ideas, figure out what I need to do and keep track of what I have done.

I will also research opportunities for next summer, as many internships, jobs and camps have application deadlines between January and March. I want to be as prepared as possible for next summer, yet also have a great time this summer! Sorry that this email was so long, but I wanted to be as thorough as possible for both your sake and mine.



As you can see, this is an extremely thorough summer goal list that applies nearly every principle that we teach in PrepWell Academy:

  • Variety (sports and coding)
  • Specifics (typing 2X/wk, visit 2 colleges)
  • Timeframes (lacrosse pratice on weekends)
  • Service to others (volunteer work)
  • Keeping brain engaged (Khan Academy)
  • Career interest exploration (Shadowing)
  • Parental involvement (college visit logistics)
  • Stretch Goals (buy a computer)

We teach students to go big on their goal list - not to play it safe.  We would rather see six ambitious goals with 75% completion than three "safe" goals with 100% completion.

I strongly encourage you to set aside time to introduce this important skill to them.

P.S. I don't recommend goal-setting because I heard it on a late night infomercial or read it in a "self-help" book. I have been setting goals for 30 years. Below is a small sampling of hundreds and hundreds of goal lists that I've created over the years. They come in all shapes, sizes, and level of detail. I have a vault of such journals, booklets, and training diaries. Here are a few samples..

Here are a few samples of my goal lists..

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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