Making Summer Plans?

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It turns out that summer is not just perfect for surf and sand but also for making big life decisions, especially those which don’t have to be set in stone. Contrary to the common habit of using January as new ‘starts’ and personal commitments to our future, it seems that when those long sunny days hit us with refreshing rays, we become more decisive and more optimistic about our choices ( ). Quite a contrast from the pressure-driven dynamic you and your children contend with during the school year. So here are a few things to consider engaging with this coming summer, activities that will also lessen the burden on the proverbial ‘down the road,’ which feels closer and closer every year.

It’s never too early to help your children discover a potential path to their studies and, perhaps, even careers. Taking advantage of the relatively relaxed summer environment to attend to decisions about whether to sit for Subject Tests, or which classes best serve your college application goals, or what experiences would feed your children’s drive to explore their future will greatly lessen the pressure you’ll feel toward the end of their high school journey. One look at our Junior Year Checklist will clearly imply the benefits of addressing some of the list items earlier than later.

‘But where do we start?’ If we had a quarter for every time a parent asks that question, well… we might not be writing blogs at all. But if you’re an Academic Resources parent, then we proudly boast about the maybe 75 cents we’d scrounge up. That’s because the student's level of self-knowledge, time management, and learning habits are integral to our approach in our tutoring and test prep activities. And self-knowledge is where we suggest you begin as well!

One of our favorite tools to identify natural preferences and interests is the MAPP (Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential) test - identifying those activities in which you’re naturally motivated to engage and focusing in on those areas of study and career in which those activities are mostly used can be of immense help in picking majors, college programs, and, retro-fittingly, what summer activities, high school subjects and class levels, and extracurricular options to pursue. It can also provide criteria by which to narrow college searches and/or visits. Any such tool that offers insight into your child’s natural motivations is a worthwhile investment. And summer might be the only time your child has the time to proactively ask those often overlooked questions: what motivates me? What do I believe in? And how do I align those answers with my path going forward into college and beyond. (Note: we do not receive any commission from MAPP, although at the rate we use it, we wish we did.)

Armed with some of this foundational insight into your children’s natural predilections,  you can begin to explore by DOING. Research is important but, if possible, actually engaging in experiences like college visits, internships, summer jobs, or summer educational camps can help inform a decision more effectively. Does it turn out that your child is driven toward communicative fields? Enroll them in a writing or multimedia class or camp. Look for internships at local news outlets. Does your child enjoy numbers and analytical challenges? Reach out to small businesses or companies with high-school internship opportunities. Our US government offer an array of challenging programs for STEM-oriented high school students that can garner positive leverage on college applications. And if your children are between the ages of 7 and 12, enroll them in our fun and informative STEM Summer Camp we run with our partners at Club Scientific Summer Camps in July.

Creating some momentum during the summer months will take the edge off the tasks you’ll need to check through during the school year. If you can start with an exploration of ‘why’ to pursue a particular direction, then all other decisions and tasks will likely be made more effective and enjoyable to undertake. So jump into the summer with both feet - and don’t forget what all those experiences can do to your IG or SnapChat account! ;)