PrepWell Blog


Sweet & Sour Summer

Summer is a few weeks away. Does your child have a plan?

Within PrepWell Academy, I spend significant time helping students plan their summers. This entails several weeks of advice, recommended websites, prompts for self-reflection, and interest inventories.

Why are summers so important?

  • An opportunity to learn and grow
  • Time to prepare for standardized tests
  • A chance to "test a theory" about careers
  • A break from over-scheduled school year
  • A time to earn money
  • Exposure to college coaches
  • and more...

If you would like your child to get the full playbook on these options and their pros and cons, enroll them in PrepWell Academy.

I do have a general recommendation, however, that applies to all high school students.

Have your child pursue a "sweet and sour" summer. That is, 50% sweet (or fun) and 50% sour (or hard). I'm sure they will have plenty of ideas for the sweet part.

For the sour part, they get to pick from these options:

  1. construction work
  2. landscaping
  3. moving and storage company
  4. farm work
  5. dishwasher
  6. custodial
  7. house or garage cleaning
  8. painting
  9. other manual labor

I hope the reasons for this recommendation are clear. Most kids today, left to their own devices, will choose to do easy things. They will intern, shadow, volunteer, and collect tickets at the movie theater all day long. That's not going to cut it for the whole summer. 

I want them to do hard things, too. Things that will make them stronger, more manually literate, and, at times, uncomfortable. I want them to reflect on what it would be like to do this type of work as a career.

I want them to experience different people, environments, demands and rhythms of life. I want them to get out of their prodigious comfort zones.

I want them to plop on the couch at the end of the day to rest their tired feet.  I want their lower backs and hands to feel a full day's work.

Did you know that teenagers' grip strength has declined 35% over the last 20 years? 

Yup. I'm sure you can guess why.

I want to reverse this pernicious trend.

Coincidentally, doing this type of hard work also happens to play well on college applications because so few students do it. The stories, anecdotes, and essays will flow for days. This is real life.

If you have other suggestions for "sour" jobs, please put them in the comments below. If you need more options, try Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs.

If your child has a problem with this grand summer plan, just blame it on me.

Enroll in PrepWell Academy

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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