How You Spend Your Time Matters

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How You Spend Your Time Matters

What is it that you love to do in your spare time? Before you say you don’t have any spare time, take a moment and think about what you love. Is it playing a sport or a musical instrument? Is it volunteering your time helping others or is it learning and mastering a new skill?

For our increasingly busy teens, finding time to give back to their community can seem insurmountable (and a huge stress to already busy families) but with a little planning it can and should fit into their schedules. For an athlete that might mean they volunteer at the local youth camp during summer or collect gently used athletic equipment to donate to needy kids’ groups. For the artistic kid, perhaps they can tutor a middle school student who’s learning to play an instrument or wants lessons in oil painting. For any student, maybe they stock shelves at the local food bank or mentor kids at a local youth club or provide peer tutoring on campus.

Colleges today want well-rounded student populations and they create those student communities by looking at how and where applicants spend their time. This is really good news for parents. Way back when, we were told to become well-rounded students if we were applying to college. The emphasis seemed to be on doing a lot of activities and racking up a lot of volunteer hours to make us “look good.” It didn’t much matter whether we enjoyed any of it.

Today, our children need only make a regular, weekly or bi-weekly commitment to one or two activities leveraging what they already do or love. They don’t have to be the founder of three new clubs or organize a neighborhood garage sale fundraiser or travel outside the country somewhere to help build orphanages. Just showing up consistently, to a local volunteer job that they feel strongly about, is what’s important. If over time they take on more responsibility, a leadership role or coordinate a big community event, even better.

Help your child figure out what it is they love or care deeply about and encourage them to find a way to give back to their community or school. It’s the dedication and passion that admissions counselors look for when evaluating the extracurricular activities section on the college application, not just hours logged at random events.



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