COLLEGE SAVINGS 101

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The importance of summer vacation in the road to college
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/the-importance-of-summer-vacation-in-the-road-to-college-1023

Posted: 2017-01-25

by Maria Carla Chicuen, Author of Achieve the College Dream

When applying for admission to college, students are usually prompted to submit information about the way they have spent their school breaks. The most selective universities, in particular, often require applicants to write at least a short paragraph describing the academic or extracurricular activities in which students have participated during the summer vacations throughout high school. This practice reveals the increasing value schools place on independent learning through individual initiatives, and the belief that the education process also takes place outside of the classroom. Students who have spent their breaks productively thus have a greater chance of admission to selective institutions.

The thought of dedicating our "free" time to anything other than a proper vacation during the summer break seems daunting to many parents and students. However, taking advantage of the break does not necessarily mean completing more academic work. It is rather an opportunity to do exciting things that could not be accomplished during the school year. Whether it's developing a new skill, practicing a sport, joining a community organization, or traveling, the key is to enjoy and dedicate efforts to something fulfilling at a personal level.

Even if summer is months away, students in their first, second and third year of high school, especially, should start making plans for the next vacation period. Many universities, including the Ivy League and other selective schools, offer a variety of summer programs for students as early as elementary school. These programs present an opportunity to earn academic credits, explore life in college, and enhance your chances of being admitted into a specific university. What's more, many of the programs are offered at no cost. (Keep in mind that the applications to many summer programs have deadlines as early as January.)

RELATED: Using 529 savings to pay for a gap year

Other great ways to spend the summer include learning a new language (through courses at a local institution, self-study methods or language-immersion programs) and traveling abroad or even around your own country. Many student travel programs offer financial aid. Older students may also consider working part-time or completing an internship; professional experience, including informal jobs such as babysitting and tutoring, is greatly valued by college admissions officers.

Preparing for college admission exams or taking summer classes are some of the alternatives for students who don't mind dedicating extra time to academics. I personally spent my first summer in high school taking the physical education and health courses required by my school. The following summers, I enrolled in algebra and statistics courses at local colleges through the dual enrollment program, and participated in mathematics tournaments. These experiences allowed me to get required courses out of the way and take subjects unavailable at my high school, which in turn strengthened my preparation for my undergraduate studies at Harvard University.

RELATED: Top colleges aren't just for the rich

When applying for admission to college, students are usually prompted to submit information about the way they have spent their school breaks. The most selective universities, in particular, often require applicants to write at least a short paragraph describing the academic or extracurricular activities in which students have participated during the summer vacations throughout high school. This practice reveals the increasing value schools place on independent learning through individual initiatives, and the belief that the education process also takes place outside of the classroom. Students who have spent their breaks productively thus have a greater chance of admission to selective institutions.

The thought of dedicating our "free" time to anything other than a proper vacation during the summer break seems daunting to many parents and students. However, taking advantage of the break does not necessarily mean completing more academic work. It is rather an opportunity to do exciting things that could not be accomplished during the school year. Whether it's developing a new skill, practicing a sport, joining a community organization, or traveling, the key is to enjoy and dedicate efforts to something fulfilling at a personal level.

Even if summer is months away, students in their first, second and third year of high school, especially, should start making plans for the next vacation period. Many universities, including the Ivy League and other selective schools, offer a variety of summer programs for students as early as elementary school. These programs present an opportunity to earn academic credits, explore life in college, and enhance your chances of being admitted into a specific university. What's more, many of the programs are offered at no cost. (Keep in mind that the applications to many summer programs have deadlines as early as January.)

RELATED: Using 529 savings to pay for a gap year

Other great ways to spend the summer include learning a new language (through courses at a local institution, self-study methods or language-immersion programs) and traveling abroad or even around your own country. Many student travel programs offer financial aid. Older students may also consider working part-time or completing an internship; professional experience, including informal jobs such as babysitting and tutoring, is greatly valued by college admissions officers.

Preparing for college admission exams or taking summer classes are some of the alternatives for students who don't mind dedicating extra time to academics. I personally spent my first summer in high school taking the physical education and health courses required by my school. The following summers, I enrolled in algebra and statistics courses at local colleges through the dual enrollment program, and participated in mathematics tournaments. These experiences allowed me to get required courses out of the way and take subjects unavailable at my high school, which in turn strengthened my preparation for my undergraduate studies at Harvard University.

RELATED: Top colleges aren't just for the rich

 

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