I originally wrote this piece for the website Grown and Flown, a wonderful blog for moms of teens.
Students, you can apply the article, too. Just follow the steps on your own or with a parent or other adult.
The school year has ended and summer is upon us. It’s a wonderful time to relax and recharge before the next school year. But, it’s easy to watch as time slips away in a summer haze. Three months of break become two, two become one, and one becomes a matter of weeks, then days. If your student has summer goals—i.e. books to read, admissions essays to draft, practice tests to take—then the passage of time can become a stress-inducing pressure-cooker.
But, as a parent, it’s a tricky balance: while you don’t want to overstep or nag, you do want to empower your student to strategically use the summer months.
As a test prep coach, I guide students to make the most of their time and take proactive steps toward long-term goals. By taking some time to plan at the beginning of the summer, you can help your student create a more productive, fulfilling, and fun summer vacation.
Last night, I participated in a Twitter Q&A with Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisors, as a part of her #CollegeCash Chat series.
I've included the conversation below to make it easy for you to follow.
Feel free to follow up with any questions in the comments section, through the Contact page of my website, or on Twitter.
Hope you enjoy!
PS: Twitter conversations are great, but by their very nature they require concise responses. I elaborate on some of the topics we touch on here in the following blog posts:
Get Your Z's
Decisions, Decisions... and Distractions
The Most Important Thing You Can Do for Your SAT/ACT Prep if You're in the 10th Grade
Boost Your Reading Comprehension in As Little As Two Weeks
Meditate: Meditation provides deep rest. Certain forms of meditation actually provide deeper rest than sleep does! While I'm not suggesting that you substitute meditation for a good night's sleep, I am suggesting that if you aren't able to get the sleep your body needs, it's all the more reason to take advantage of a 10-20 minute meditation power up! I teach all my students to meditate so that they can feel and perform their best on test day and in life. I also describe a basic meditation technique in my book, Acing It!
Unwind: Whereas meditation fills you with energy and is most effective at the beginning of the day and in the afternoon, there are also practices you can do to unwind at the end of a long day. Lower the lights. Stretch or do restorative yoga posses, like plows or seated forward folds (hold each pose for as many breaths as your age). Sip a cup of nighttime tea. Write a list of things from your day for which you feel grateful.
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Do you listen to music while you work? Do you find that it helps?
A lot of the time, I work in quiet, but yesterday and today I've been listening to the album Flying by Garth Stevenson. It's really beautiful!
There are additional practice quizzes and questions organized by subject and skill on the Khan Academy website. You may supplement with “unofficial” prep material from companies such as Princeton Review, Kaplan, McGraw Hill, and Barron’s — particularly for their study guide content which covers the math formulas and grammar rules tested on the SAT. But keep in mind that the highest quality of practice tests will come from the source, in this case the College Board. (Khan Academy is a special case because their material is released in partnership with the College Board.)
You keep your nose to the grindstone and move from one commitment to the next, but in between you feel exhausted and ornery. You are a machine, and your only opportunity to switch “off” happens at night when you’re asleep (if you’re able to sleep restfully, that is).
Second, there’s the burnout that ironically seems like a bit of a luxury—the kind that you can feel because you have time to be tired and unmotivated. This is the burnout that comes after the storm. You’ve accomplished quite a bit leading up to this point (you may have even been operating with Burnout #1 for a while). But now that you’re no longer running on adrenaline and willpower, you don’t want to do much. Still, you want to neither feel ineffective nor waste the discretionary time at your disposal.
Then, I settled into watching the show not as a teenager admiring my Ivy-bound role model but as a test prep coach watching teenagers be … well … teenagers.
I say this with all due respect. Goodness knows, there are many amazing things about seeing the world through the eyes of a 16-year-old. But every age has its advantages and its insights. Having garnered the wisdom of a few years and worked with many students on their own test prep, I can now look at some of the characters’ conversations with a different point of view.
With all that said, I present to you exhibit A: Rory, Paris (her super-type-A, neurotic nemesis), Madeline (one of Paris’s friends), and Louise (another of Paris’s friends) have recently received their PSAT scores… Let’s see what happens...
Last year, I attended an introductory talk with Thom Knoles, a world renowned Vedic Meditation teacher. Thom suggested that practicing meditation as he instructed would help us to release all of the stress we’d accumulated over the years, leading us to more blissful lives.
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