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Summer can be the perfect time for teens to prep for next school year

Homework has never been a positively associated buzzword in the teenage vocabulary. For many students, homework is the ultimate afternoon killjoy, especially during times of at-home learning. Thanks to COVID-19, some students were left with a quarter left of curriculum not fully understood, lacking the resources to learn new material and cover necessary subjects with ease.

But summer can be the perfect time to get back on track, says Amanda Vincent, the owner of Studyville, a new academic resource focusing on academic support for middle and high school students. The company has been offering on-demand homework help–complete with online tutoring and summer “reboot” sessions–on a wide range of subjects. With even more free time these days, students can turn their attention to the areas where they need the most assistance and brush up on those skills that may not have been perfected earlier in the year.

“There is concern from parents as to where we will all be in the fall and how this will affect our kids,” explains Vincent. “One parent even said to me, So, will my daughter be in grade 10 and a half next year? This is going to be an issue, not only for the students but also for the teachers, as it will be difficult to teach so many different levels in one class. Our goal is to make learning and continued education possible and manageable for all parties, especially during this season.”

In an effort to keep students sharp for a hopeful return to school in August, Vincent shared with us her summer studies to-do list for teens:

1. Read, read, read.

The most important thing teenagers can do to avoid the summer brain drain is read. When not used, the brain can experience a decline in memory and loss in function. If you’re an athlete, you need to stay fit with regular training—same with the brain. I would recommend reading the classics. Classic novels connect us with generations of readers who have loved and treasured these books.

My recommendations for classics that don’t suck? A Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, both by Oscar Wilde; Rebecca, a beautiful and dark mystery by Daphne du Maurier; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; and, of course, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

2.  Work on college recommendation letters.

Now is the time for incoming high school seniors to gather recommendation letters from their teachers. Depnding on where your teen decides to attend school, many college applicants will need at least three recommendations: one from a high school guidance counselor and two from core subject teachers from junior or senior year. While the student is still fresh in teachers’ memories from junior year, they should go ahead and ask for and secure these recommendations. Students should not expect that they will be able to get these recommendations at the last minute when teachers are playing coronavirus catch-up.

3.  Start that ACT and SAT prep.

Regardless of the rumors anyone has heard, the ACT and SAT are here to stay for the foreseeable future. The ACT is offering regular in-person testing this summer, masks required but still in person and not online. The online testing options for ACT and SAT are not ideal: low internet speed, lack of adequate testing sites/proctoring, and the inability to mark up reading passages. High schoolers should use the time they have this summer to prepare themselves for the ACT and/or SAT.  Studyville is currently offering these online and can accommodate students at all different levels.

Confused as to which test would be best for your student? The ACT is needed for TOPS scholarships. The SAT is not as popular in our state, but it offers more time per question–70 seconds per question versus 45 seconds per question for the ACT. If you have a student who wishes to apply to out of state colleges and struggles with testing time constraints, the SAT may be a better option.

4.  Try daily journaling.

The pièce de résistance of every college application is the personal essay, but it does not need to be a dissertation. The personal essay is a chance for college admissions staff to see the real heart of the student and to ascertain how they will fit into their college’s unique demographic. The best way to practice for this essay is for teens to begin journaling. Paper journals are less popular with teens than digital journals, and one really great–and free–option is Penzu, which is even password protected so teens don’t feel they’re susceptible to prying parents. Teens need freedom to voice their thoughts, emotions, beliefs and concerns in a free space where no one is grading them or looking over their shoulder. I would highly recommend Penzu for this.

Get more information on Studyville here.