Summer vacation is rapidly approaching but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. It’s important for kids to continue to learn in order to avoid the dreaded summer brain drain. While my kids are still young I want to make sure that they stay mentally active this year. We will hopefully be taking on some of these ideas in an age appropriate manner.
With competition fiercely increasing among high schoolers to get into the college of their choice, finding unique ways to keep students motivated in the summer is becoming increasingly difficult.
Frances Kweller, an education and testing standards expert and the Founder and CEO of Kweller Prep, a learning incubator specializing in advanced test preparation in New York City, offers advice to high school students on unique ways to avoid summer brain drain and get a leg up on the competition:
· Visit “Your” colleges- For college-bound students, pick your 3-5 dream schools and visit them. Check out the neighborhood, the campus life and the bookstore. What better way to provide motivation than to visit a school and imagine yourself being a student there. Every school has multiple tours available over the summer. Just visit each college’s website and sign up.
· Vacation with education- Enhance your family vacation by going on an historical tour. Visit a museum, take a tour of historical locations or even visit a local tourist attraction. Nothing is more educational or mind-opening than having a visual experience to think about.
· Volunteer with a purpose- Volunteering should be aligned with your long-term goals. Hands-on learning is the best form of education. If you want to be a doctor, you should look into volunteering as a candy striper or in a nursing home. Enhance your resume by taking the opportunity to create mentors in your field of interest. Summer is a relaxing time and therefore a great opportunity to learn from an experienced person in your field.
· Set up a testing plan- For sophomores and juniors in high school, set up a testing plan for the months ahead. The testing season begins in September starting with the ACT and SATs in October. Setting up a testing plan will help keep your eye on the ball and have you focused and ready to go when school begins.
· Get a head start on your college application- The common app changes slightly from year to year, so you can use last year's college application as your template and fill it out. This way, you'll know exactly what you'll need for each application once school starts. Don’t wait around until the last minute. Take your time over the summer and begin to get your application organized. You’ll need to gather your recommendation letters, personal statements, transcripts, create a resume, portfolio and draft multiple supplements. Besides, if you organize yourself in the summer you can apply for Early Decision or Early Action to college, which means you'll get your acceptance letters much sooner.
· Reading is key- Reading is always a good motivator but don’t just pick up any book. Take the summer to read books that are not part of the required reading lists at school. Better yet, research a list of banned books in the United States and expand your knowledge to learn about something new. This also makes a great subject for a college essay!
· Create and motivate- Challenge yourself by working on a summer project. Look into your family history and create a genealogy chart, organize a charity event, assist the elderly in old age homes or build something after you’ve taken a carpentry lesson. Taking on projects alone or with a friend will serve as a good learning experience and will also be a great way to show that you’ve completed a task that you’ve started.