How to Convince Your Kid to Take a Summer Course

« Back  |  

You know the drill. Your kids come running through the door after the last day of school and everything changes. Evenings once spent huddled around the kitchen table working on class projects are now filled with video games and binge-watching television. Family conversations about newly learned topics are replaced with scrolling through social media and taking a puzzling amount of selfies. How do you get your teen to trade in their phone for a textbook during their beloved off-time? Here are five ways you can position summer courses as a fun activity rather than an eye-rolling bore.

Summer courses are an excuse for your teen to see more of their friends.

Most teens love a packed social calendar. It can feel like your home has a revolving door! What if you could give your kids two thumbs up whenever they asked to see their friends? By convincing pals to join along in summer classes, your teen is guaranteeing hang time while you secure study time. Studying with friends is proven more beneficial than studying alone. It’s a win-win!

Not only can summer school up your teen’s GPA, it can also make summer more fun!

Would you like to see your teen’s GPA kicked up a notch? Create a grade point goal together that adds plenty of incentive for your student. Whether it’s a fun activity, new gadget or cash, providing a reward will keep your teen hungry to impress you. When the goal is reached, you have a fun reason to celebrate together. Tip: By completing classes online with programs like those offered by ASU Prep Digital, your teen can work on boosting grades from the comfort of the couch.

Summer classes can inspire your teen to pursue their greatest passions.

If your child is on the fence about taking a summer class, try exploring classes that tickle your teen’s curiosity. Instead of predictable courses like math or English, test their interest in a foreign language, music, or art class. You might light a passionate fire in your teen that would have otherwise never been discovered. And through concurrent enrollment, they can earn college credit, to boot.

Taking classes during the summer can send a teen off to college early.

Is your teen eager to throw that graduation cap in the air and head to college?  By earning credit over the summer, your child is one step closer to high school graduation. Colleges will respect your student’s academic commitment, too. The number of acceleratory summer school participants is increasing all over the country, but especially in areas where college admittance is competitive. Summer classes bring your student one step closer to a college campus (and your house one step closer to some well-earned peace and quiet).

Use summer school as an excuse to bond with your children.

Summer classes don’t have to be a wedge between you and your teen. Instead, use the experience as an opportunity to grow closer as peers. This article from CNN notes, “Too often, learning is about having the ‘right’ answer, and adults are the keepers of knowledge. Instead of always being the expert, be an explorer with your kid and let them teach you along the way.” Find topics that neither of you are savvy about and attend classes that allow you to learn together. Teens are notorious for pushing parents away, so this creates a special time for just the two of you.

If you need help convincing your teen that summer school is the way to go, check out Why Summer School Isn’t a Bummer.

 

 

Can a Summer Trip Abroad Boost Your Chance to Get Into College?

« Back  |  

By now, many college applicants understand that getting into college extends far beyond GPAs and test scores. Extracurricular activities, community outreach, and personal passions are all distinguishing factors in the application process. But what about taking a summer trip?

Taking an international trip during the summer for educational, cultural, or humanitarian purposes can be a life-changing experience in more than just a couple of ways. And many organizations exists solely to offer study abroad courses, exchange programs, and international trips for students looking to broaden their high school experience.

So, can an excursion abroad boost your chances of getting accepted to your dream school?

Well, it depends.

There’s a significant degree of skepticism and cynicism among college officials when it comes to summer trips abroad and, more importantly, how they’re used in college applications. Most admissions officers read several essays every day that depict an applicant’s life-changing trip to a foreign land, which can leave them (understandably) jaded about the authenticity of these stories. At the same time, trips abroad can be genuinely formative experiences, and if traveling internationally changes who you are or how you see the world, then it’s worth including in your college application.

If you’re thinking of spending your next summer abroad with the hope that it will benefit your college admissions process, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Find a trip that has specific meaning for you.

College admissions offices have plenty of experience in weeding out authentic travel experiences from mere resume boosters. An essay about an expensive five-day service trip to a third-world country won’t seem genuine if the applicant doesn’t have a prior history of community service in their own hometown.

The best way to be authentic in how you choose to spend your summer is by finding a program or trip that engages one of your established passions or interests. Are you the president of your high school Spanish club because you love the language? Find a program where you can learn from and engage with native speakers in a Spanish-speaking country. Do you play violin in the orchestra and dream of studying music in college? Look for a travel experience that will allow you to immerse yourself in another country that has a rich musical history and culture (like Austria).

An international trip or study abroad program that engages your passion and broadens your horizons in a specific way will not only be enjoyable, but it will also serve as an authentic addition to your college application rather than a mere add-on.

If you write about your trip in an essay, be specific.

For the most part, college administrators don’t want to hear about how great your luxurious trip abroad was. They are more interested in students who made the most of their time and resources in high school than in those who were fortunate enough to have interesting and exciting international experiences.

If your trip abroad ends up being a life-changing part of your high school experience, then don’t feel like you can’t write about it in an application essay. However, the experience should be included as part of a larger theme about who you are and what you’re passionate about. Consider how your trip fits into a pattern of involvement in an area of interest, along with other activities and experiences from your high school career.

Any mention of your trip should depict detailed stories from the experience and how they taught you specific lessons. If you participated in a summer study abroad program with 20 other students, it’s likely that your peers had a similar experience if seen from a broad point of view. Think about a specific encounter or discovery that had personal value for you and write about that, instead of describing the general aspects of the trip that everyone else likely experienced.

High school study abroad programs, and even international vacations, are fantastic opportunities for cross-cultural understanding, learning, and personal growth. For that reason, they can certainly be helpful experiences to draw on when applying for colleges.

But considering that college admissions officials value distinguishing characteristics in applicants more than cool experiences, don’t approach a trip abroad as just another box to mark off on your college app checklist. Rather, see it as an opportunity to further explore a personal interest or passion, develop a skill, or add to the bigger story of who you are and what you care about.

Why Summer School Isn’t Such a Bummer

« Back  |  

Your locker is cleared out and your friends dash to their respective cars and buses. Final exams are turned in. The once overflowing hallways are now empty. It’s official, summer has arrived!

For many students, education comes to a screeching halt. Study halls and presentations are replaced with SPF and video games. For some, though, this lull between grades means summer school. Does combining the words summer and school make your stomach drop? Here’s why school could actually be the coolest thing you do this summer.

Hang Time

What if every time you asked your parents if you could hang with your friends, they excitedly said yes? By convincing your friends to take summer classes with you, you have a built-in excuse to spend time together (studying, of course). Your parents will gain respect for your academically motivated friend, too. This respect leads to more trust in your judgment and peers. And those brownie points can come in awful handy the next time you ask for a later curfew!

Set Yourself Up for Travel

Do you have dreams of traveling the globe when you graduate? By taking concurrent enrollment courses over the summer, you can earn high school and college credit. And that means you’ll be working toward giving your future college schedule some breathing room. Time that would have been spent propping open your eyelids at an 8 a.m. English class can instead be used to take an international adventure. Travel becomes difficult once you’re out of school, but if you plan for it ahead of time you avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Boost GPA

Summer school still carries a negative connotation for some. Those people need to get with the times! While summer school was once seen as a tool for underperforming students, it’s now used by high-achieving learners to accelerate their academic careers. By completing classes online, you can bump your GPA while staying in your pajamas and blasting your favorite playlist (or re-watching your favorite series for the 50th time.)

Avoid Learning Loss

Did you know that the typical student loses about two months’ worth of educational skills during the summer months? For all the stress and studying you put into the school year, all that hard-earned brain power is worth maintaining. Keep your mind sharp and your skills honed, so when the first day of school arrives, you fall right into the rhythm. No beats skipped.

Finish Sooner

Are you ready to trade in your high school locker for a college dorm? By earning credit over the summer, you are one step closer to high school graduation. The college you have your eye on will certainly notice your academic drive, as well. In areas where college admissions are competitive, the number of acceleratory summer school participants is on the rise. Which means you’ll be in great company (see #1 on this list).

Top 10 Summer Activities to Boost Your College Resume

« Back  |  

The Ultimate List Every High Schooler Should Use to Plan Their Summer

You know what it means when that last bell of the school year rings. You grab your backpack, throw up a peace sign, and run out the door. It’s time for summer! Before you reach for your bathing suit, remember that colleges care about how you use this free time to further yourself. Demonstrating a commitment to personal growth can be the deciding factor that gets you into the college of your choice, and can even score you scholarships.

These 10 summer activities will give your college resume the boost it needs to stand out from the rest.

1. Hone Your Passion

Who says building your college resume has to center around grades and classrooms? The summer months provide a perfect opportunity to explore something that intrigues you. Colleges are looking for multi-dimensional students who pursue a passion outside of the school’s four walls. Have you been thinking about learning guitar? Do you want to try your hand at knitting or even learning to code? Hobbies like these add a splash of personality to your college resume, and may even help you find your future career.

2. Take an Online Course

It’s tough to get back into the swing of things after months away from active learning. Continuing your education during this time away from school often means getting a head start to graduation, growing your academic ability and improving your GPA. Plus, there are loads of courses to choose from that go far beyond an average curriculum, especially at institutions known for innovation like Arizona State University. The best part: online courses don’t require an early wake-up! Learn more about how online classes work here.

3. Work It

In addition to earning some cash, work experience reads well on a college application (and IRL). Even bagging groceries part-time shows colleges you are a responsible person. In maintaining a job, you demonstrate time management, teamwork and listening skills. This article from ThoughtCo points out, “Experiences at work can provide excellent material for your college application essay, and if you’ve maintained a strong academic record, colleges will be impressed by the discipline required to balance work and school.”

4. Pack Your Bags

While recreational travel is personally rewarding, colleges appreciate travel opportunities that exhibit commitment, curiosity and/or productivity. One great way to explore a new culture while improving your college resume is studying abroad. There are ample programs for high schoolers that allow you to safely leave your comfort zone while engaging in a new level of cultural discovery. With only 10 percent of students participating in study abroad programs in their academic career, this kind of experience helps your college resume stand out significantly.

5. Pick Up a Second Language

Almost 7,000 languages are spoken across the world. Unfortunately, the U.S. is dramatically falling behind in foreign-language skills. With the nearly endless resources available through smartphones, book systems and tutoring programs, learning another language is just a matter of commitment. Not only does a second (or third) language add something special to your college resume, learning a language also stimulates the brain and increases overall intelligence. Pro tip: While you’re at it, take a concurrent enrollment language course with ASU Prep Digital to satisfy college prerequisites.

6. Prep for the SAT or ACT

SAT and ACT standardized test scores are critically important aspects of your college resume. Colleges see these scores as a gauge for how you might fare academically at their institution. The reasoning is that they are more likely to invest in students who they believe will reflect well on their programs and honor their alma mater as alumni. While the tests may seem tedious, the College Board announced that SAT coaching can significantly improve scores. So, take advantage of those summer months and get to prepping.

7. Break Out of Your Shell

It’s easy to get into a comfortable routine with friends and family while you’re in high school. During the summer, find a way to explore outside your usual circles. The more conversations you have with people who maintain a different point of view, the further you can expand your own worldview. The teenage years are rife with self discovery, and you may meet some of the most influential characters in your life’s story by pushing yourself outside your social comforts. Who knows? Those new characters and stories could set the stage for a compelling and deeply personal college essay.

8. Find Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

Distinguish yourself from other applicants by investing in your entrepreneurial dreams. Today’s business world is bustling with fresh attitudes and innovative ideas. And, believe it or not, teens are at the helm of burgeoning businesses now more than ever. By flexing your entrepreneurial muscle, colleges will know you are ready to bring innovation, dedication and determination to their campuses. Check out these 13 teen business ideas to get your gears grinding.

9. Visit Prospective Colleges

As much as you are auditioning for colleges during the application process, don’t forget that they should also be auditioning for you. By visiting the institutions that spark your interest, you get a real sense for the school’s points of pride, student culture and daily pace. The interactions you witness and information you glean on a tour can also help you tailor your application materials to that school. During your visit, get to know students who are enrolled and ask them what they love or dislike about their school. Every interaction of this kind will prove to be invaluable.

10. Find Opportunities to Do Good

Whether you are volunteering with a nonprofit or helping to tutor your classmates on a subject you’re strong in, colleges place a high value on the opportunities taken to demonstrate kindness. Yale recently added an essay question on their application asking applicants to “reflect on engagement with and contribution to their family, community, and/or the public good,” to assess the goodwill students will add to their community. While a great GPA and packed extracurriculars enhance a college resume, personal examples of compassion will make it (and you) shine.

 

For more information about summer activities and ways to boost your college resume, follow ASU Prep Digital on Facebook