Join us on Tuesday, May 8, at 7 PM ET for a Grown and Flown Facebook Live with Seventeen Executive Editor Joey Bartolomeo and a chance to win your own copy of College Goals.
The school year is coming to an end, and while every high school student deserves some time to relax, we all know that binge-watching Netflix isn’t something they can list as an activity on a college application. But that doesn’t mean you need to force your teen to jam-pack his or her summer with every job and volunteer opportunity imaginable.
As the Executive Editor of Seventeen, helping teens navigate the high school years—and manage the stress of it—is always on my mind (which is why we just published Seventeen: College Goals: An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Getting Into A School You’ll Love), so I think it’s important to remember that summer is a great time for them to work on some life skills, keep their brains sharp, and, yes, do some things a college admissions officer will love.
Have them do things they’re passionate about.
First of all, we all know that work doesn’t feel like “work” when you’re doing something you love. But also know this: College admissions officers can spot a serial joiner. So rather than having your teen get involved in a bunch of random things that fill up every hour of the day, have him or her focus on activities they find meaningful—even if something that’s kind of out there. Colleges love a diverse student body.
Make sure they’re not afraid to try something new.
Even if your son or daughter already has a career goal (or college major) in mind, they don’t have to match everything they do to that specific field of study. Yes, it’s great to have a focus, but they should also be open to—and excited about—shaking it up and learning new things. And there’s a payoff to breaking out of a routine: It helps keep our brains stimulated. (Even changing up where they go to eat or the route they take to a friend’s house counts.)
Help them understand commitment.
Whether they’re painting houses or interning at a local business, the key takeaway is that they’re learning to be responsible and reliable. Those are two key adulting skills! Make sure they read (and not on a device). One study found that reading a print book, versus an electronic version, increases reading comprehension, but this isn’t just about an increased vocabulary of SAT words. Training your mind to focus (especially when it’s constantly being bombarded by phone alerts) will help prevent the dreaded summer brain drain. Encourage your teen to put his or her phone in another room for an hour while they read a book, a magazine, a graphic novel—anything counts.
Keep them on the move.
Poolside lounge chairs and a cozy couch can be so relaxing, but there’s a downside to staying in place for so long: The level of cortisol, a stress hormone, starts to rise after sitting for 20 minutes. And too much of that can damage the neurons in the brain’s memory center. The fix: Even on a lazy day, make sure your teen gets up and walks around for two minutes every half hour to bring down their cortisol levels. (They can set an alarm on their phones.)
Remind them to be mindful.
Being in the moment not only will help them manage anxiety, but according to a Harvard Medical School study, meditating 20 minutes a day can increase memory and reduce stress. Too much to ask? Two minutes of uninterrupted quiet (it helps to think about a calming word or phrase) any time of day is a great tool that will come in handy once the summer is over and it’s back to the stress of homework and tests.
Joey Bartolomeo is the Executive Editor of Seventeen, where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the magazine. She has more than 20 years of experience as a magazine writer and editor. She began working at Seventeen in 2015, and during that time the magazine has been nominated for three National Magazine Awards, one for general excellence and two for personal service.
Previously, she spent a year as the Entertainment and Features Director at Self. Prior to that, she spent more than a decade working at celebrity weeklies, as a Senior Writer at both People (where she wrote numerous cover stories, ranging from breaking news to celebrity interviews) and Us Weekly. During that time, she appeared regularly in lived and taped segments on news and entertainment shows including Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Access Hollywood, Showbiz Tonight, Today, A&E Biography, and various shows on MSNBC, CNN, VH1, and E!.
Prior to that, she was a Senior Writer at Allure, Associate Fashion Features Editor and Associate Features Editor at Harper’s Bazaar, and held various positions at Condé Nast Women’s Sports & Fitness (originally Condé Nast Sports for Women, which she worked on from the prototype stage). She began her career as the assistant to the editor-in-chief at Self.
She is a graduate of Colgate University, and currently resides on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with her husband and son.