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Why your kid should get a summer job instead of going to an academic program


Replies to: Why your kid should get a summer job instead of going to an academic program

  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    They think it sounds better. And... I get it. The line between summer job and internship is sort of fuzzy in college (LOTS of what are called internships are really summer jobs for bigger companies).

    There are a lot of summer programs that aren't at "dream college". And there are some good reasons to do them that the article does not list. (Note that I am not advocating against summer jobs -- there are many paths to enlightenment). Examples of things that might be called "summer programs" that my kids did:
    - Operation Catapult at Rose-Hulman - D2 enjoyed her engineering project there, but it helped her decide she did NOT want to be an engineer. She didn't apply there, either.
    - Davidson Institute THINK - U Nevada - Reno isn't a dream college for most kids, but it is the location of this intense summer program for gifted kids. My kid reveled in the academic challenge and meeting other kids like herself, she is still friends with a lot of them 5 years later. She would say it was the #1 summer activity she did in HS (but you can't do it after age 16). It helped her decide that she wanted to go to the most intense college with the smartest kids that she could get into.
    - Quiz Bowl Camp - Only a week, but QB was one of her great passions, and it helped her get better. Held at a college, but no dream school.
    - D1 wrangled a scholarship to spend a summer in Finland on a program there (most of it a homestay, but not all of it). She had studied Finnish for 8 years (and we are not Finns!). It was the culmination of years of interest. Not completely free for us, but pretty cheap.

    I think a blanket statement that summer programs aren't helpful is as untrue as saying that kids should do summer programs instead of getting jobs. It depends on the program and the kid. Summer activities that help kids define and deepen their interests CAN be a good thing. But I wouldn't let my kids go to college with no work experience, either.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78517 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    If you sentyour kids to summer camp, like to get ice cream at the local shop in the summers, eat out at restaurants, pick up coffee or a quick snack at a fast food place, etc...you should be happy that some kids are happy to have those "menial" summer jobs. They are providing a service you want to have.

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  • dadoftwingirlsdadoftwingirls 740 replies15 threads Member
    There are a few summer programs that could help you but they are specifically for the first generation or minority student. It is the universities chance to get these kids the opportunity to go to a university and see they can succeed.


    If a kid wants a military academy summer experience, the Coast Guard Academy. Couldn't convince my daughter to go.

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  • mathyonemathyone 4193 replies34 threads Senior Member
    "wiping noses at sleepaway camp". Really? I'm....surprised that any parent would have such disdain for a job working with kids.
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  • emilybeeemilybee 14770 replies41 threads Senior Member
    "They think it sounds better. And... I get it. The line between summer job and internship is sort of fuzzy in college (LOTS of what are called internships are really summer jobs for bigger companies)."

    But we are talking about high school students. I know they think it sounds better but it's ridiculous and doesn't help more then listing it as a job. I think colleges see a kid who works at any job to be a plus - even if it's scooping ice cream at the local DQ. Future employers do too.
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  • cmb1828cmb1828 74 replies12 threads Junior Member
    I can tell you from experience that camp counseling, especially a sleep-away camp, is one of the most draining - yet fulfilling - jobs a college kid can work. The camp I worked - staff was there 3 weeks before anyone else to do all of the labor needed to open, began our summers with blind/special needs camp, and went on from there. Try being a 19 year old kid responsible for the well-being of 7-10 kids (and in the final weeks, some might be only a couple years younger than you)... its far more transformative than any academic experience I can imagine.
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  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya 1699 replies7 threads Senior Member
    S eventually decided living at camp for the summer wasn't him. He ended up working a minimum wage job at a meat market. Was it intellectually stimulating? No. Did it provide him a completely different perspective on how difficult life is for people with limited educational experience? Yes. He also saw how hard it can be for a small business to retain good employees. And how difficult it is for people who make minimum wage or slightly more to survive.

    He was invited to compete for Governor's school. While I would have loved to see him in that program, and I recognize what it can do for students, I respect his choice to take a summer break from academics, and appreciate that his work experience has helped shape the adult he has become.

    No one experience is right for every kid. As parents, we can only hope to guide our kids to the experiences that will help them recognize their potential.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23513 replies308 threads Senior Member
    D2 was offered a summer camp job in our city. She was offered few thousand $ as an exempt employee, which meant she wouldn't get any overtime, but was required to attend training, and open house events at the camp. When I added all the hours, it was less than minimum wage. Just on principle, I told her not to take the job because I knew how much they were charging the parents. I told her I would prefer if she stayed home to eat bon bons. I am one of those people who do not believe in non-paying or below minimum wage internships.

    If you were to ask college counselors what are "impressive" summer programs, they would say selective programs that are free, like TASP, state Governor's school, top music/art performing programs...There are some paid programs that are selective and very well run, which includes some of those college summer programs. What's beneficial with those college summer programs is it can be a good way of showing interest and love. One can often write a much better "Why college X" when one has spent some time there, this is especially the case with schools that have Tufts syndrome.
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  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya 1699 replies7 threads Senior Member
    S and D both made far less than minimum wage working at scout camp. We had many discussions about this. Scout camp is very low cost, and many camperships are available for students who have limited family income. If my kids (and others working at camp) demanded minimum wage (or more), then many low income kids would be unable to afford camp. We saw their working at below minimum wage as a way of giving back.We are fortunate to be in a financial position where our kids do not havehave to work in the summer. So working for a low wage while helping kids across the financial spectrum worked for them. YMMV.

    Helping those less fortunate was more important than impressing college counselors. Schools that shared similar values would - and did - recognize the value of their summer work. But, these were also kids who did not see Ivy and comparable schools as the ultimate goal. They sought out schools that had similar values and were also also had higher likelihood of admissions and scholarship $$.
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  • maya54maya54 2676 replies100 threads Senior Member
    A college summer program was critical for my daughter. But that's because she's a nursing student who had to demonstrate interest in nursing. Because we live in an area where volunteer positions in hospitals are impossible to get without being a relative of a big donor, it was VERY difficult to be able to demonstrate interest except throu attendance at a summer prenursing program.
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  • MassmommMassmomm 4246 replies85 threads Senior Member
    ^^^@maya54, I don't think this is the type of program the writer meant. Your daughter's program was valuable to her future career, not just something to impress the ad coms.
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  • TheGFGTheGFG 6093 replies213 threads Senior Member
    My D attended a governor's school program at a non-elite private college. The experience was fantastic both socially and academically, and supplied fodder for the intellectual vitality essay she needed for applications.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    My current junior was just informed she's gotten a bit of a promotion. Last year she taught swim lessons and lifeguarded at a small private pool. This year she will be the supervisor two days a week and teach the other three. On her supervisor shifts all parents coming in to register for lessons or with questions about what level their kid is at or what level they should sign up for for the next session will be handled by her. She will also be responsible for supervising all the classes and making sure the other instructors are doing their jobs properly. She's only been there a year and a half and I feel like the manager has really recognized that even at 17 she's responsible and the parents like/trust her. My question is if there is any way to best highlight this experience on her applications in the fall. Through essays? Letter of rec from her boss? She's a solid 94th percentile on the SAT and a mid to high academic kid with 6 AP classes so far and 4 more next year, with A's and a few B's, applying to UCSB, UCSD, Cal Poly SLO and a few private schools. Her other EC's are varsity swim, Girl Scouts and a few minor clubs, etc.but her focus has really been on teaching swim. She loves it. They always say to have a passion, and she does, but how does she articulate that?
    edited May 2016
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  • MassmommMassmomm 4246 replies85 threads Senior Member
    She can show a progression up to a supervisory level on her common app. It would also be great if her boss could do a LOR.
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  • Fish125Fish125 270 replies4 threads Junior Member
    @VickiSoCal - Wonderful experience for her! Here are a few of the UC prompts/questions that were previously asked (I think the link is for the 2015-16 application period). Each year the questions seem to be somewhat similar, and using this experience as a focus for one of these would be great. http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/personal-questions/freshman/index.html
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  • PostmodernPostmodern 1160 replies91 threads Senior Member
    Since the general consensus seems to be that the "pay to play" programs are a waste in admissions, but highly competitive ones like RSI are very beneficial, what is the feeling on other non-pay-to-play academic endeavors like working in a research lab with a professor?
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  • suzy100suzy100 5695 replies58 threads Senior Member
    I also think both experiences are very beneficial. However, I did not have the $ for my D1 to attend a pricey program, so we looked for those that were no/low cost, and found one. It was a great experience for her - she needed a few weeks on her own, out of the house. She also worked that summer. I'm hoping to find the same thing for D2.
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  • mom2andmom2and 3068 replies21 threads Senior Member
    The point of the article is not don't go to summer programs, but go to those programs where the student has a genuine interest and not because it will get the kid into the college that happens to host the program. For some kids, going to a gifted program (THINK or even the talent-search based programs) can be the best part of their year and they can grow socially and intellectually around his or her peers. Others may be more of a grind.

    If the choice is between hanging out with friends and playing video games, vs going to camp or a summer program as the kid is not able to get a job, I would think camp or program might be a better way for a kid to spend their time and to grow. Not every camp is expensive. Y or scout camps are generally reasonable and offer weekly sessions. One of mine had a great time being involved with a drama program.

    It was not that easy for my kids to get jobs until senior year.
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  • OldFashioned1OldFashioned1 110 replies3 threads Junior Member
    For the NHS event at my children's upper middle class school, every senior who is headed to a top 30 college mentioned at least one summer program in their profile. Elite college admissions is too competitive to remain academically idle all summer.

    And yes, as someone mentioned, the students who "don't need them" seem to be doing them the most. True. Which makes an already wide achievement gap grow even wider.
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  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal 3487 replies34 threads Senior Member
    We had our NHS ceremony on Wednesday night. No profiles were mentioned. What did they do?

    Out going president read names of the 90 juniors being inducted, they each crossed stage and signed book.
    In coming president read names of the 70 graduating seniors, they each received a tassle

    incoming officers received candles/books from outgoing officers.

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