TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Bill O'Neill

Bill O'Neill-profile-picture

Bill O’Neill graduated from Harvard College with a degree in economics and he’s been working with words ever since. He’s been a Lifestyle department editor at a daily newspaper and wrote PR and fundraising materials for nonprofits focused on affordable housing and animal welfare. As a freelance writer, he focuses on stories about family life, health and pop culture. Bill lives on Cape Cod, where he enjoys biking, hiking and kayaking.

Posted Feb. 14, 2019, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
Teenagers studying under a tree outdoors.

Are you trying to decide whether you should spend next summer studying a textbook or rereading the Harry Potter saga? Spending time with the Hogwarts crew might sound like fun, but taking a college course for credit has some major upsides. “A college class can be a great option for students who desire a more rigorous academic challenge than what their high school offers,” says Nancy Polin, a college counselor who is the founder and president of Educational Excellence, which offers college planning and tutoring services. “It’s an opportunity for a student to get their first exposure to what a ...

Posted Feb. 7, 2019, 2:13 p.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
Teen Volunteers

You could spend your spring break playing Fortnite until your eyes glaze over, binging rom-coms on Netflix or sleeping like a bear in deepest hibernation mode. You could do that, or you could spend those free days volunteering. There’s no shortage of organizations and agencies that could use a helping hand and many of the tasks don’t require special experience. Where to find a community service opportunity? Hospitals, libraries, food banks, nature sanctuaries and animal shelters are among the places near you that need a steady supply of volunteers. Your parents, teachers and coaches might have some suggestions or connections ...

Posted Jan. 18, 2019, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
Mother and teenaged son summer portrait with phone

A stay at a residential treatment center can be life-changing for a teenager, but the work doesn’t end when a child comes home. “Completing rehab is just the beginning. Adjusting after the return is a big challenge for everyone involved – the teenagers, the parents, the rest of the family,” says Tina Muller, family wellness manager at Mountainside Treatment Center, an alcohol and drug addiction treatment center in Canaan, Conn. Parents should begin doing their own work while the child is away, she says. LOOKING FOR HELP? GET OUR TEEN THERAPEUTIC GUIDE “Start building a network that you can rely ...

Posted June 22, 2018, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
Afro-american woman in computer programming class and smiling

Far more men than women major in the computer sciences, and Gloria Childress Townsend, professor of computer science at DePauw University in Indiana, thinks she knows why. “Ask a young girl to draw a computer scientist, and she draws a male caricature dressed in a white coat and wearing thick glasses,” she said. “There isn’t a clear, accurate picture in the media of the types of IT careers one can have that involve people and engaging ideas.” Women miss out when they don’t consider majoring in computer science, she said. “Young women can take any interest – art, business, health ...

Posted April 14, 2018, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
Young woman studying outside on a college campus in the summer.

A classroom might seem like the last place you’d want to spend those precious few weeks of summer vacation, but if it’s a college-level classroom, there might be all kinds of benefits. “Taking college courses during the summer can be a great way to start to get a feel for the academic expectations of a college classroom and can enhance the rigor of your high school curriculum,” says Mike Lynch, director of undergraduate admission at Emerson College in Boston who meets lots of high school students at Emerson’s summer programs. “Doing well in a college course can help admission officers ...

Posted Feb. 6, 2018, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
How Actors Can Find Their Roles in Voiceover

What do “Finding Nemo” and a radio ad for a small-town pizza parlor have in common? Both rely on the vocal talents of people you probably never see. Big-budget animated movies provide high-paying speaking roles for movie stars, but you don’t need to be famous to find performing arts opportunities in voice-over. For example, while some audiobooks are read by celebrities like Claire Danes, who narrated Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” most are read by people like Elizabeth Wiley, associate professor of theater at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. (She was named a finalist in the Audie ...

Posted Dec. 22, 2017, 9 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
You Want to Learn a Language This Summer? Try Immersion!

Verano, été, taumafanafana – no matter how you say “summer,” if you’re a high school student, it’s a great time to sharpen your foreign-language skills. Opportunities include language immersion programs in the United States or abroad, homestays and apps. No matter what form of training you choose, there are multiple reasons to do it. When you learn another language, there are cognitive benefits in terms of added flexibility in your thinking, says Marty Abbott, executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL). But the most important benefit, she says, is being able to connect with ...

Posted Nov. 30, 2017, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
Is Medicine Your Calling? Find Out in These Summer Programs

If you’re a high school student, becoming a doctor is about a dozen years away. That’s a long journey requiring a big commitment of time and money. How can you be sure that medicine is right for you? Your best bet is to spend a summer getting a close-up look at medicine, either as a volunteer or as a student in a medical program for high school students that provides an in-depth look at the world of medicine. Either way, you won’t be performing surgery, but you will get a much better sense of what a career in health care ...

Posted Nov. 2, 2017, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
8 STEM Summer Programs That Are Just for High School Girls

Kate Ballantine, assistant professor in environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College, has a favorite memory from her years running a summer STEM program for girls. “My students were walking past the tennis camp to a field. We’re carrying all our equipment – all the science-y stuff. One of the tennis campers yells, ‘What are you guys doing?’ “One of my students said, ‘We’re scientists.’ She was just radiating with this sense of ‘this is who I am now.’” Ballantine’s Restoration Ecology Summer Scholars Program gives high school students a chance to do hands-on research in environmental restoration. Summer programs like ...

Posted Aug. 31, 2017, 8 a.m. by Bill O'Neill | View Comments
Why Colleges Are Turning STEM into STEAM

“Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” – Steve Jobs The kind of thinking that brought us the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone is the kind of thinking that more and more schools are trying to cultivate. From tiny Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., to major research universities like Duke University in Durham, N.C., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., undergraduate programs are looking for inventive ways to blur the distinction between the humanities and STEM programs. ...

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