Rethinking Summer Plans for Teens

red tulips istockIMG_3126Do you think that sending your child to Stanford or Oxford or Johns Hopkins will help him or her get into an “elite” college? This excellent article debunks that myth.

Instead, I’m a huge fan of letting your child drive the summer bus. What does she never have enough time for? In what does he lose himself? Summer is the time to ease up on the classroom stress and let your teen explore outside the usual boundaries. And any summer job — however menial or “unimpressive” — can be a wonderful learning experience. Check out this amazing essay by a Johns Hopkins student who worked at a bakery for the summer.

Of course, if you’re a rising senior, this summer is an excellent time to start working on your college essays, but not in a stressful way. Writing your college essays should be a time of introspection and exploration. If that scares you, then come to my free talk, Writing YOUR College Essay, at Arlington Central Library, Arlington, VA, on 5/22/16 at 7:30 pm.

Or you can hire me. I work with students in the Washington, D.C., area in person and all over the country via Skype and do prefer to get started over the summer. I’ll make you work very hard on these essays, but they will be some of the best, most reflective words you’ve written.

[This photo is from an Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Museum excursions are a fabulous part of any summer.]

Writing YOUR College Essays – My Free Talk

admission imageI’m happy to announce that my FREE annual talk on how to writing your college essays will be on Sunday, May 22nd at 7:30 pm at Arlington Central Library in the auditorium. I will be covering how the personal essays fit into your whole application, what admission officers say they want in these essays, and how to make your essays stronger. I’ll also share some examples of great essay hooks to inspire you!

My talk is designed for high school juniors, but parents are also welcome to attend. Please arrive early to get a seat. I look forward to seeing you!

Why Multitasking Is Detrimental to Your Brain and Prospects

As a working writer, I know that I produce my best work when I have uninterrupted stretches of time. Writing well requires intense focus and a clear head. Like everyone else I sometimes fall prey to the lure of social media, but this article reaffirms the need to mono-task, not multi-task.

Most teens swear by multitasking, but don’t listen to them. In every essay coaching session I do, I get on my soap box about the dangers of multitasking, because it’s nearly impossible to write well unless you are mono-tasking. I strongly advise all my students to dive into their work without any distractions for 45 minutes each hour and then take a 15 minute “tech” break to catch up on social media, get a snack, or just walk around. At least experiment with this and see how much more effective you are, I tell them. Several students have told me they’re “amazed” by how much more efficient they are when they do their work without any distractions.

This is a great article to share with teens, because the evidence is clear. Multitasking isn’t good for your brain, your grades, or your future employment.

 

Booking Up

Thanks to the 114 parents and students who attend my free talk on Writing Your College Essay on May 31st! It was standing room only. I shared lots of tips and insights about what colleges are looking for in the essay and how a personal essay works.

My June and early July dates are booking up, so contact me soon if you want to get a jump on writing the essay. Remember: I don’t just edit the essay. I teach my students how to write more vividly and effectively. My students go to college with a new set of skills and greater confidence in their writing. Many tell me that their college essay is “the best thing I’ve ever written.” And that makes me very, very happy.