The Family Project: Summer job
Q. My 17-year-old wants to find a job for the summer. I think he should do something more constructive, like volunteering, which would look good on a college application. What do you think?
Panelist Chad Stefanyak began the discussion by saying, “I’m applauding the youngster’s wanting to go to work, so I’m wondering why the parent seems to see work as a negative in comparison with volunteering.”
He went on to say that it is hard to decide which would look better on a college application, volunteering or holding down a job, without identifying what higher-education institution the 17-year-old wants to attend.
“I was struck by the phrase ‘something more constructive,’’” panelist Michael Ramsey added. “I’d want to know what the parents think the kid would get out of volunteering that he couldn’t get from a job.”
“Colleges are looking for students who engage in activities besides just going to class and playing sports,” panelist Pam Wallace noted. ”Working at a full-time job certainly falls within those acceptable activities.”
Talking about his own experience working as a cashier when he was 15, Ramsey said the job was a real motivator. “I learned if I wanted to move beyond the service industry, I was going to need more education.”
Following up on Ramsey’s comments, Stefanyak said the value of working could depend on the job and its relationship to what the son wants as a career. “If he wants to get a culinary degree, then working in a restaurant makes sense,” Stefanyak continued. “Some jobs even provide training that can look great on a college application.”
Another benefit to getting a job, according to panelist Jackie Gisonti, is the ability to put money aside for college. “You could have a great application, but if there’s no money, there’s no college,” she said.
Wallace suggested that the boy could volunteer one or two days a week and work the rest of the time. He could also volunteer during the school year, she said. “Volunteering is a big deal and very important to organizations, particularly in the summer. The reward is in volunteering itself.”
Ramsey concluded that there is value in work and in volunteering, whether in life or on a college application.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Michael Ramsey, MS, LPC, Program Supervisor, Valley Youth House; Jackie Gisonti, Housing Supervisor, Valley Youth House; and Chad Stefanyak, School Counselor.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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