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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

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,038 Senior Member
    edited April 2016
    My son was a dish washer in a restaurant. It was a job, and he was happy to have it. This particular restaurant was awesome, and he worked his way up from dishes, to salad prep, to busboy, to winter. No job was too me ill for him, me they appreciated that.

    In addition, DS and DD earned their college spending money...which was something we asked them to contribute. Books...and all discretionary spending.

    And to be honest...if your kid went to some program, there were less than hugely paid staff especially in the housing and dining halls that made that possible.

    It's a personal family choice to NOT have a student work in the summers.

  • MassmommMassmomm Registered User Posts: 3,894 Senior Member
    While I agree with a lot of what the writer said, I think in my son's case, some type of academic program might have been more beneficial to his development (if not to his applications) than the summer of League of Legends. The following summer, he did get a decent job in IT for a public school district. He hated every minute of it, but there is something to gained by experiencing at least one soul-sucking job.

    For me, that job was Burger King, summer of 1980. ;)
  • emilybeeemilybee Registered User Posts: 13,136 Senior Member
    "Some high school kids who have summer jobs now list them a "internships" on their college applications."

    Why would they do that?
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,881 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.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,038 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.

  • dadoftwingirlsdadoftwingirls Registered User Posts: 752 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.

  • mathyonemathyone Registered User Posts: 4,225 Senior Member
    "wiping noses at sleepaway camp". Really? I'm....surprised that any parent would have such disdain for a job working with kids.
  • emilybeeemilybee Registered User Posts: 13,136 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.
  • cmb1828cmb1828 Registered User Posts: 86 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.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,704 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.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 23,002 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.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,704 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 $$.
  • maya54maya54 Registered User Posts: 2,080 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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