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Lacrosse or Kumon? Which activities best prepare a young child for college?
http://www.savingforcollege.com/articles/lacrosse-or-kumon-which-activities-best-prepare-a-young-child-for-college-820

Posted: 2015-08-11

by Kathryn Flynn

A new school year is just around the corner, and parents are getting their children ready by purchasing supplies, re-establishing their routine and selecting fall activities. To some moms and dads, participating in sports or music lessons after school is just as important as regular classroom time. Many believe that certain activities will give their child a leg up on the competition when it comes time to apply for college, and others are hoping the lessons will pay off one day in the form of scholarship money. But before you sign up junior for chess club, there are a couple of questions you might want to consider.

Is it really worth the cost?

The amount a family spends on after school activities will vary, depending on what their child is involved in. Sports leagues at a local recreation center or YMCA, for example, will generally cost less than $100 for an entire season, but horseback riding, which is said to be the most expensive extracurricular activity, typically runs between $30-50 an hour just for one lesson. And don't forget to include all of the "extras". Things like ballet shoes, team photos and hockey equipment can really add up. What's more, on game nights you can expect to spend more of your grocery money on takeout since you won't have much time to cook dinner at home.

And it's not just parents of athletes who are facing steep costs. Math and reading enrichment program like Kumon and the Russian School of Mathematics are another pricey way parents are prepping their kids for college, with tuition prices ranging from $100-$300 per month. Children as young as three years are able to enroll in programs like these, which means your total tuition payments could exceed $45,000 over time.

RELATED: How younger students can build a competitive profile for the Ivy League

According to the 2015 Huntington Bank Backpack Index released last month, the average parent will spend around $3,000 in school supplies and extracurricular activities this year. These costs are up from last year, with a 1% increase for elementary school students, a 2.5% increase for middle school students and a whopping 9% increase for high schoolers. The steep jump for the older kids is a result of juniors and seniors now taking multiple college entrance exams.

You could argue that instead of paying for activities parents should be saving for college instead. But parents looking to send their children to the Ivies or other top schools are looking for ways to stand out from other applicants. In fact, students at private schools typically start prepping for college as early as eighth or ninth grade.

Does the type of activity matter?

According to Dr. Hilary Levey Friedman, a sociologist and expert on parenting and competitive afterschool activities, "certain sports seem to provide an in". In her book, Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture, she examines the effects certain activities can have on college admissions.

"These are mainly sports where slots on teams need to be filled, but not as many people participate-- think squash, fencing, lacrosse," says Dr. Levey Friedman.

But parents should be aware that these sports are often associated with more affluent families, which can negatively impact a student's chances of getting financial aid from the school.

"Of course, activities like these also have a class dimension that can signal an ability to pay full tuition in an era of needs-blind admission", warns Dr. Levey Friedman.

What's more, the level of a student's commitment to a sport or activity tends to have a greater bearing on admissions decisions than the activity itself.

As Lulu Curiel, founder and CEO of Ivy Advisors, points out,

"It's less about the activity but more about the impact that your child has made, given a certain activity. For example, it's less about being on the debate team, but more about what innovations or changes your child has implemented to improve the of the club, school, or team. That impact can only come if your child has devoted enough time in the activity and has a passion for it, because then he or she can identify the needs and opportunities."

RELATED: 9 tips on getting into an Ivy League School

A new school year is just around the corner, and parents are getting their children ready by purchasing supplies, re-establishing their routine and selecting fall activities. To some moms and dads, participating in sports or music lessons after school is just as important as regular classroom time. Many believe that certain activities will give their child a leg up on the competition when it comes time to apply for college, and others are hoping the lessons will pay off one day in the form of scholarship money. But before you sign up junior for chess club, there are a couple of questions you might want to consider.

Is it really worth the cost?

The amount a family spends on after school activities will vary, depending on what their child is involved in. Sports leagues at a local recreation center or YMCA, for example, will generally cost less than $100 for an entire season, but horseback riding, which is said to be the most expensive extracurricular activity, typically runs between $30-50 an hour just for one lesson. And don't forget to include all of the "extras". Things like ballet shoes, team photos and hockey equipment can really add up. What's more, on game nights you can expect to spend more of your grocery money on takeout since you won't have much time to cook dinner at home.

And it's not just parents of athletes who are facing steep costs. Math and reading enrichment program like Kumon and the Russian School of Mathematics are another pricey way parents are prepping their kids for college, with tuition prices ranging from $100-$300 per month. Children as young as three years are able to enroll in programs like these, which means your total tuition payments could exceed $45,000 over time.

RELATED: How younger students can build a competitive profile for the Ivy League

According to the 2015 Huntington Bank Backpack Index released last month, the average parent will spend around $3,000 in school supplies and extracurricular activities this year. These costs are up from last year, with a 1% increase for elementary school students, a 2.5% increase for middle school students and a whopping 9% increase for high schoolers. The steep jump for the older kids is a result of juniors and seniors now taking multiple college entrance exams.

You could argue that instead of paying for activities parents should be saving for college instead. But parents looking to send their children to the Ivies or other top schools are looking for ways to stand out from other applicants. In fact, students at private schools typically start prepping for college as early as eighth or ninth grade.

Does the type of activity matter?

According to Dr. Hilary Levey Friedman, a sociologist and expert on parenting and competitive afterschool activities, "certain sports seem to provide an in". In her book, Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture, she examines the effects certain activities can have on college admissions.

"These are mainly sports where slots on teams need to be filled, but not as many people participate-- think squash, fencing, lacrosse," says Dr. Levey Friedman.

But parents should be aware that these sports are often associated with more affluent families, which can negatively impact a student's chances of getting financial aid from the school.

"Of course, activities like these also have a class dimension that can signal an ability to pay full tuition in an era of needs-blind admission", warns Dr. Levey Friedman.

What's more, the level of a student's commitment to a sport or activity tends to have a greater bearing on admissions decisions than the activity itself.

As Lulu Curiel, founder and CEO of Ivy Advisors, points out,

"It's less about the activity but more about the impact that your child has made, given a certain activity. For example, it's less about being on the debate team, but more about what innovations or changes your child has implemented to improve the of the club, school, or team. That impact can only come if your child has devoted enough time in the activity and has a passion for it, because then he or she can identify the needs and opportunities."

RELATED: 9 tips on getting into an Ivy League School

 

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