Over the past decade, I have raised my own kids to their successful independence (phew) and have helped so many families guide their teenagers to use their summers for exploration, competency development and launching into college. My surprise was when a previous client said — I didn’t know you helped teenagers too!! Guess I haven’t spoken loudly enough or more directly!! I have become an expert in helping teenagers use their summers wisely, effectively and enjoyably. And I talk “good teen”!!
So, let me be very clear. There is nothing better for a high schooler than to leave the nest and learn how to live on their own prior to going off to college. It is hard enough to stay on top of the academics but compound that with freedom of choice and independent time management, fraternity/sorority rush, dorm life, dining hall eating, new friends, extracurriculars….
Key word – INDEPENDENT!! Mom/Dad, you are not there to direct, to make choices for your child, or to oversee their actions. You simply pay the bill (and you may not even know how they are doing in school)!
There are four typical teenagers and as I describe them, you will know which one you have:
1. THE PROFESSIONAL: This teen knows exactly what they want to do, how to get there and is self-directed. He or she still has questions, challenges and typical teen behavior. But when it comes to goals, they are very specific.
2. THE ENTREPRENEUR: This teen knows they want to be successful, they want a nice life and yet have not a clue what they want to do with themselves. They either are comfortable with the science/math track, the language/social studies track or a slight combo of the two.
3. THE “TWEEN”: This teen really wants to still be a kid and has no desire to think beyond this afternoon. He or she is a good kid but really has no desire to move the ball forward to independence right now. They depend on their friends to plan their activities, they are happy to go along with the pack, their grades are average and they are not self directed in any aspect of their lives. They follow directions but do not create the direction.
4. THE CONTRARION: This teen is revolting about everything!! I am sorry you are going through this if in fact, this is your teen. However, know that you are not alone and there are many things that can be done to move them to any of the above 3.
So based on the type of teenager you have, or if they fit somewhere in between, know that there are many different ways to open their eyes, present opportunity, expand their horizons and direct them towards becoming successful independent young men and women. So what can be done with the 13 weeks of summer? Or 25% of your teen’s life??
Following are a few categories to consider and within each category, there are many programs near and far that are available. Each of these programs can then be paired with special projects that can be tied to their school year work. For example,
1. PRE-COLLEGE PROGRAMS – experience life and independence on college campuses in the US and abroad while getting college or high school credits, enrichment classes, SAT prep classes and more. Learn the difference between big and small campuses, practice dorm life and self-directed time management
2. COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAMS – experience all types of community service opportunities that can be started during the school year and implemented during the summer months in the US and abroad.
3. LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL IMMERSION PROGRAMS – worldwide opportunities in every possible language and culture. In this global economy, understand life as it exists elsewhere.
4. SPECIALTY PROGRAMS – film/photograph, sports, writing, international relations, debate, robotics and engineering, marketing and management, medicine, public policy and anything you can dream of
4. COLLEGE TOURS – visit colleges of interest while still enjoying time with peers
The goal of summer development is to move your teen to The Professional or Indian Chief. And if you start the process when your teen is in 9th grade, you have a very good chance of getting your teen very ready to start college successfully. Clearly, each teen is different, each household and budget is different, each year is different. There are so many resources to help you find just the right action to take year to year.
To learn more about the 3 Year High School Summer Plan, feel free to contact me for free advice and direction. Making a difference in teenagers (and even the peace and tranquility in your home) has become more than a job but a personal passion to make a difference in future generations.
Karen Meister, in partnership with Joanne Paltrowitz, works with the international consulting firm, Camp Experts and Teen Summers. Feel free to contact Karen for complimentary assistance at Karen@CampExperts.com or 305.931.KiDS or 305.931.5437. Thousands of families have received confidential and complimentary guidance to select the best camp and teen programs from around the world. Karen is also the Founder of the LifeMeisters.