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Guiding Your Teen Toward Summer College Prep

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Guiding Your Teen Toward Summer College Prep

Summer is upon us and parents everywhere will be searching for activities to occupy their teen’s summer. When my children were teenagers, I would not allow them to say these two words: I’m bored. For the college-bound teen, summer is the perfect time to do some college prep. That doesn’t mean your teen should spend every waking hour focusing on college, but it does mean that the summer break from school should be used wisely.

At the beginning of the summer, sit down and make a plan. Decide which activities require more attention and which activities just need a few hours a week to complete. Allocate the time for each activity and schedule it as you do during the school year. Having a plan and a schedule will help you and your teen stay on track and complete all the tasks before the summer is over. Once school begins in the fall, your teen will be less stressed because he has worked all summer toward preparing for college.

These 10 activities should help your teen stay busy and help you guide them toward the inevitable goal of college.

1. Test Prep

Summer is the best time to do some test prep and improve your vocabulary. If your student is self-motivated, you might consider signing up for one of the many online SAT tutors. If more focused study is needed, your money will be well spent hiring a tutor. The best tutors can help your student achieve high scores which can translate into more merit aid from a college.

2. Scholarship Searches

Even if your teen isn’t a senior yet, there are scholarships for all ages. Since scholarship searching is a time consuming process, summer gives your teen the time to spend locating them. Your teen can search for scholarships online, using scholarship search engines, or locally at the library. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for local scholarships on the news and encourage your teen to scour social media as well. Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter are excellent places to locate scholarships. Create a spreadsheet in GoogleDocs or use Pinterest to pin the scholarships you find online.

3. Volunteer

Encourage your teen to start volunteering in his community. A consistent pattern of volunteering each summer looks great on applications and shows colleges that he is concerned about giving back. You can be a strong motivator by volunteering yourself as well. Volunteer service is a great way for high school students to show colleges they care about their communities and want to make a positive impact on society, as well as explore career options and develop discipline and teamwork.

4. Get a Job or Start a Business

Summer is a good time to add some cash to that college fund and also demonstrate responsibility. Many teens actually go the entrepreneurial route and start a business: lawn mowing, babysitting, or tutoring. Encourage your teen to use his imagination and find something that interests him. As with volunteering, summer jobs are a good way to explore career paths.

5. Write

Probably the last thing your teen wants to do over the summer is write. But writing is good preparation for the college essay and the writing portion of the SAT. Journaling is a great way to do this and will also serve to spur your teen’s creativity. Motivate him by purchasing a nice journal and giving it to him at the beginning of the summer.

6. Make Preliminary College Visits

I stress “preliminary” here since visiting colleges in the summer isn’t the best time to get a clear picture of college life. But it’s a great time to wander around and explore the campuses. You can do this as a family on vacation by visiting colleges around your vacation destinations. It’s never too early to start visiting colleges.

7. iTunes University

iTunes University is an excellent way for your teen to get an idea of what college courses might be like. It’s free and there is a wide array of subject matter to choose from. You can access it on your iPhone or iPad or by downloading iTunes on your computer.

8. Start or Focus on a Hobby

Hobbies are great ways that your teen can stand out from the pack on his college application. But it needs to be consistent throughout high school. Summer gives students the time to focus on the hobby and turn it into a stand-out activity on his high school resume.

9. Spend Some Time on Social Media

You won’t have to pull his arm to get him to do this; but it needs to be focused. Have him spend some time on Twitter and follow some colleges that interest him. He should also read some blogs from college students and perhaps connect with some on Facebook from the colleges he is considering.

10. Read

Yes, I know. I can hear it now. BORING. But reading is one of the best summer activities to enhance your student’s academic success and improve his vocabulary. And if he likes Ayn Rand, there are several big money scholarships given each year for essays on her books.

What are your favorite summer activities with your college-bound teens? Do you have any other suggestions?

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Written by Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parenting for College blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.

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