Don’t Waste Your Summer!

Here is something that really irritates me about the whole college process:  too many families view it as a game.
Their aim is to get their child into the best school possible. Fair enough, but what’s often overlooked is making sure that teenagers are well prepared for whatever college they end up at. Too many parents assume that their children will do well in college because their high school grade point averages look good. Considering that most high school students have a 3.0 GPA or higher, however, grades are fairly meaningless.
The annual college readiness statistics from the ACT organization shows that I’m not off base here. In 2010, only 24% of high school graduates, who took the ACT, met the college readiness benchmarks in English, Reading, Math, and Science. Not surprisingly, teenagers performed the worst in math and science.
According to the academics who wrote this recent blockbuster book, Academically Adrift, students who are well-prepared for college not only do better when they get to college, but they improve markedly while they’re there.

Studying Math in the Summer

I am bringing this up today because of one of my son’s projects this summer.  Via Skype, Ben is hoping to help his nephew Matt in St. Louis boost his previously low math score when he retakes the ACT test in June. Ben, who is a math major/physics minor at Beloit College, plans to help his cousin throughout the summer with his math and science.  Since the ACT tests what students should know in high school, all this work should make Matt a better prepared student when he does start college in the fall of 2012.
When Ben was in high school he also spent part of his summers working on math. Ben easily earned “A’s” in his high school math classes, but the grades didn’t impress him, his father or me. We all believed that his high school math classes weren’t rigorous enough to prepare him for high-level college math so Ben took five math courses at our local community college during his junior and senior year in high school, including summers. Ben started at Beloit College by taking Calculus II and Linear Algebra and while the classes were extremely challenging, he survived his first year and he’s eager for more math. I’d consider that a success.

What Are You Waiting For?

So what’s the bottom line here? Summer is the perfect time for teenagers to get help with their academics. Luckily, there are many resources out there. You can find online classes, tutors through Craigslist and there’s that favorite tutor of Bill Gates whom I wrote about recently.
Don’t waste your summer!
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and a workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College. She also blogs for CBSMoneyWatch and US News. Follow her on Twitter.

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  1. I also recommend summer study programs at reputable colleges. Colleges love to see that you did something with your summer and you can use it on your “college resume” to show how dedicated you are.