The parental anxieties regarding college prep are looming earlier and earlier these days. The status quo is to get your children involved in all of the activities, to prepare them for all of the tests, and to generally mold them into the perfect piece of paper as early on as possible. However, in this process, we see to it that our kids miss out on, well, childhood. All of a sudden, school becomes a chore, instead of a temple of learning and curiosity, free play is swapped out for a packed schedule of organized sports and various lessons, and an unhealthy emphasis is placed on testing.
So, are there ways to build a solid foundation that can later prepare your kids for higher education, while not turning your children into a college application? Can we build skills for collegiate success without regular injections of anxiety? We’re here to say that, yes, we can!
Let’s break down the college application process. Today, we’ll look at the extracurricular activities.
This one can be hard to healthily prepare your child for, as it can quickly spiral into over-booked calendars and over-supervised play. However, there are beneficial ways to bulk up that list of supplementary activity that will be valuable to both your child and all of his/her applications.
Skills & Qualities To Build
- Service Learning
- Time Management
- Quality over Quantity
- If you incorporate service-learning opportunities into home life, you’ll find that your children will naturally develop altruistic characteristics. Whether it’s serving Thanksgiving dinner at your local soup kitchen, or joining in community projects lead by your local Rotary club, making giving back a regular family activity is a great way to connect and bond with your children, never mind a helpful way to start padding that application early.
- Practicing time management at home will help your children balance the activities that they do or will participate in. Make sure they understand the importance of balancing sports/hobbies and school. A college is not going to want one or the other—admissions boards are looking for students who can equalize, prioritize, and show quality work in all that they do. Which leads us into the next skill…
- As we’ve said before, the parent models for the child. By encouraging children to do all of the things, they learn that quantity trumps quality—which should not be the case. Allow your children to sample a variety of activities, but encourage them to choose the few that interest them enough to put quality effort into. Again, admissions boards don’t want to see a C+ student who dabbled in three sports, four after school clubs, and occasionally practiced the piano.
- Does your school participate in service learning projects? 2nd Nature Academy students invest their time in monthly service learning projects, all of which they put in time, effort, and care. A school community that places value on service learning is already helping your child build up that application!
- It is beneficial for teachers and administration to require participation, quality work, and effort from their athletes, in the same way they would for any other student. A school should help to encourage and facilitate balance between academics and extracurricular activities.
- Schools can benefit from providing a variety of afterschool activities that would interest a wide range of students, and not just the students with traditional interests. Setting up a drama or language clubs, or intramural sports like ultimate Frisbee, can help attract some of the students who haven’t shown an interest in extracurricular activities. Try polling the students on what they’re interested in. Parent volunteers are a great way to get these clubs going.