Your child’s future acceptance to a top US university actually starts from the beginning of their high school years. Parents shouldn’t wait until their child’s junior year to begin helping. This summer is an ideal time to encourage your child to explore their interests and get mentally focused on the hard work required over the next few years to reach your child’s (and your own) dream university. Here are my thoughts on what parents could be doing this summer that will have a material impact on their child’s future university prospects.
Be Your Child’s…
High School Counselor As your child’s first counselor, inspire them to talk about the future. You need to hold back from sharing your opinions and encourage your child to openly share their thoughts. If you’ve never had this conversation, it will be an insightful experience for the both of you; hearing your child’s thoughts might change your own thinking.
In addition, discuss your child’s current hobbies and future hobbies to investigate. Give your child the support they need to pursue their passion, as it will be invaluable for the university application and – more importantly – their life experience.
Campus Tour Guide Take a virtual visit of US universities together. Pick top private and public universities as well as liberal arts colleges that interest your child. Of course, include Harvard and Stanford just for fun. Spend a few hours together visiting these universities through each school’s online virtual campus tours.
You will both gain a comprehensive view of what each university looks like as well as the different opportunities and experiences they offer. The most important outcome of this shared experience is that your child will become more excited about attending university and keep them focused over the next few years to achieve their goal.
If you want to “visit” many universities, you can do this over a few weekends. Be sure your child registers on websites of the universities they find attractive. When the university’s admissions director comes to China, your child will know and be able to start building a relationship with them.
Librarian Schools often give a list of recommended summer readings to help students prepare for the next academic year. However, students are rarely encouraged to read books about planning their future or finding their career.
At the beginning of the summer, browse Amazon with your child and select just one or two books that focus on these important topics. They will have more impact than the classic novels recommended by schools.
Good books include Get Totally Real!: A Journey of Life Planning for 21st Century Teenagers and The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success. But honestly, any book written about these topics will be mind-opening for your child. When they’re done, talk to them about the readings.
And most important, help your child gain the experiences necessary to explore their career interests by becoming their…
HR Training Manager Support your child in using the summer to volunteer at a local charity or NGO. Volunteering offers young people opportunities to learn about themselves; it will help them get a clearer idea about their interests and future career goals. Spending the entire summer studying in preparation for school, as many Chinese parents believe, is not the best plan.
By volunteering at a local charity, your child will improve society while developing the skills needed to be future leader – and get noticed by top universities, which look for applicants who will contribute to their campus community.
Talk to with friends and family members, or look in the expat magazines to identify volunteering opportunities for your child.
Bottom line: Summer is the perfect time to connect with your child and build valuable experiences for their university applications.
AJ Warner is a busy dad. When not with his two sons, he’s coaching Chinese students on how to get admitted to top US universities (undergraduate and Master’s programs). He also helps Chinese families immigrate to the US for better education opportunities. He’s also part of the beijingkids parent board. Contact him at email@example.com.