Teens choose summer overnight summer programs for a variety of reasons – they may provide an invaluable opportunity to pursue an area of study that isn’t available on the high-school syllabus, a chance to see a part of the world they were unfamiliar with, or a taste of life on a college campus, and more. However, the opportunities these programs provide are not ends within themselves – ultimately, pre-college programs should be foundational growth experiences for students to build upon. And in order to make the most of a pre-college experience, it’s vital for students to take steps during the school year to build on their unique summers.
Set Your Alarm
A pre-college experience is oftentimes a lesson in independence for many high-school students. Depending on the nature of the program, students may be presented with significantly less structure than they are accustomed to having during the school year. In an academic program, for example, students might be expected to show up for their classes and complete their assignments – but the surrounding day-to-day life will be up to them. Students are expected to wake up and get themselves ready for class in the morning, to manage their course-loads in their off time, and to generally look after themselves on a day-to-day basis.
When a student proves they are capable of taking care of themselves over the summer, there’s no reason for parents to allow them to regress again once the school year starts. Students should take responsibility for waking up in the morning, tidying their rooms, and making their breakfast. They need to balance their homework with extracurriculars, ensuring that they stay on top of assignments without constant reminders from their parents. In short, summer programs give students the tools to start acting like college students, and the school-year is a perfect time to hone those tools so they will be ready for use when it’s off to university for freshman year.
Summer experiences are incredibly valuable for students who have an untapped interest that they haven’t been able to thoroughly explore during high school. If a student doesn’t have available avenues to engage their interests, be it engineering, veterinary medicine, community service or others, then a summer experience can be a great place from which to start.
But that’s exactly what it is – a starting point. If a teen’s summer experience is going to have real value, they need to build upon that summer experience during the school year. Take an online engineering course, shadow a vet, or get involved with a local cause – no matter the avenue, it’s vital for students to demonstrate the meaningful impact of their summer following up with tangible action.
Jot It Down
One crucial aspect of the college admissions process for any student is their ability to tell their story – and summer experiences can play a crucial role in this storytelling process. Students should plan to write a highlight or a recap of their experience immediately upon its conclusion while these memories are still fresh. This will provide them a well of information to draw from for future college essays or supplements, and will also help them articulate just what aspects of the program were meaningful to them.