Summertime is the Perfect Time for High School Students to Restart Their Lives

By Sam Rosensohn

Summer is one of the best high school teachers a kid will ever have. Summer offers the opportunity for students to step back, think about what’s most important to them, and then to pursue that interest.

Summer is a time for students to lounge in the dreams they don’t have time to give thought to during the school year, because from September to mid-June, they march to the expectant drums of school and Mom and Dad to name a few.

Summer is a time for students to realign with themselves and to make new discoveries about what they really want in life. Most of them don’t really want Spanish Four for more than the length of the course, another AP exam, or 30 extra wind sprints at the end of practice.

Summer is a time for students to invent their days. During the school year nearly everything is mapped out for students; they spend their days following the instructions of adults.

Summer is about taking a breath. Too many students are asked to scale academic mountains they didn’t opt to conquer, and that can wear a kid thin.

Lazy summer days are an antidote to school burnout – students should find a comfortable spot by the shore or in the mountains and kickback with good friends.

Summer is a time for high school students to discover or rediscover what they really enjoy doing. The kids who can identify and hold onto that are the kids most likely to succeed.

My friend Paul Magoulas, whose son, Kyle, is going to UConn in the fall, was saying this spring how students ought to be having more fun. He mentioned that MIT was saying the same.

Marilee Jones, Dean of Admissions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, thinks America has reared a generation of over-scheduled students, who are on track to become workaholics.

MIT recently put the breaks on the notion that to gain admittance students had to have 12 extracurricular activities. MIT now asks students what they do for fun. “Tell us something you do for the pleasure of it,” applicants are asked.

Harry Lewis, a former Dean of Students at Harvard University, also says that it’s not about graduating with a trophy transcript.  It’s about discovering who you are and finding a school where you can thrive. Summer’s a good time to think that one through.

Lewis said that Harvard has been trying for years to get high school counselors to tell their students that Harvard is not looking for a resume with 15 entries.

Lewis encourages kids to slow down and to “keep an open mind about the possibilities available to you.” Once that’s identified, Lewis encourages students to gradually spend “more of your time on fewer things that you discover you truly love.”

That’s what summer ought to be about as well. Students have the opportunity to explore what intrigues them – whether that be golf, computer science or why the fish in Long Island Sound respond differently when there’s a full moon.

By jumping off the multi-faceted, fast-paced track that’s been perpetuated by schools and misperception, and focusing on what most peaks their interest, students will start to carve out their own lives and get into better schools.

Colleges are looking for students who know what they want and who have pursued those interests. Admissions officers want to read applications from students who have identified an activity or an area of interest and who dove into that area.

The student interested in business – might well consider starting a small business during the summer months, or interning with an area business that he/she found captivating.

Summer is an ideal time for students to get back on track with themselves. Summer provides the time to move away from the hyper-managed life that they’ve been told will get them to the best schools and to move closer to creating a life that will work for them.

High school summers teach like crazy and the restored student is most likely to get the most out of school year 2004-2005.

Sam Rosensohn is the founder of College Planning Partnerships, which offers prep classes for the SAT and helps students to prepare for college and write college essays. He can be reached in Clinton at 860-664-9857 or at sam@satprepct.com