Summer can be a notoriously wasted three months for students. I know that mine often were.
Parents might want to share these summer strategies with their lethargic teen in order to maximize his or her time away from the classroom.
1. Champions are made during the off-season. Colleges primarily care about the "Big Three:" grades, scores and one extra-curricular. Summers are when good cellists become great, when good actors refine their skills. My tennis-playing daughter intends to master her volley before the fall. Encourage your teen to set specific, reasonable goals and then to implement intentional, regular practice to accomplish them. Your child may discover more joy and college interest from that extra-curricular activity.
2. Earn enough money now to avoid having to work during the school year. Many teens work a part-time schedule during the summer and school year. Have them work full time now and over school breaks, and perhaps only one weekend day per week during the school year. Grades, scores and one extra-curricular should pay more than flipping burgers. Have your teen work more now and less this fall, when time really counts.
3. Volunteer. Scholarship committees and selective colleges love leadership and selflessness – and volunteering can exhibit both. Encourage your teen to commit to a cause he or she believes in – volunteering at least twice a week this summer and then once a week during school. More importantly, volunteering fuels self-regard and the soul. If all teens invested in a volunteer activity they cared about, we’d have stronger, happier children.
4. Read at least three real books. Reading now should increase self-awareness, an inquisitive nature, that ACT score and the GPA. Encourage your teen to choose books that interest him or her. A trip together to the library or bookstore in search of one sounds like a great way to jump-start summer.
5. Set aside fun time with family. My junior-to-be will be leaving in about two years. So I treasure long walks together, trips to the ice cream store, games of tennis and watching movies – for my own sake but also to help ensure her summer doesn’t become too purposeful. During these times, I just try to listen, asking questions as needed.
Of course, the above is not an exhaustive list. "Tiger" parents – meaning strict or demanding – might also push teens to prepare for the ACT or SAT, work with tutors to attack academic weaknesses, keep a journal and self-publish a book – all worthy goals. But the above are basic strategies that should strengthen and rejuvenate any teen. And isn’t that the goal for this great time of year?
John Baylor is a father, husband, author, Stanford grad, broadcaster and owner of John Baylor Prep. The mission of JBP is to help families and schools create two and four-year college graduates with minimal debt. You can listen to the John Baylor Prep Show on KHUB (1340 AM) in Fremont, KNCY (1600 AM) in Nebraska City, KLIN (1400 AM)in Lincoln, or by clicking here.