Davidson Institute for Talent Development
This Tips for Parents article is from a seminar hosted by Jessica Fields, currently in her junior year at Princeton University. She is pre-med majoring in anthropology and creative writing as well as captain of the varsity fencing team. She discusses a number of ways to prepare your child for an Ivy League future.
At young ages, children may display passion for areas ranging from art to sports to writing. It is the wise parent who recognizes such passions and talent and encourages her child to pursue them in every way possible. Hopefully, this will reinforce the child’s interests and foster important skills such as analytical thinking and valuable characteristics like perseverance. Additionally, the cultivation of a unique area of expertise may help a child to feel special and subsequently raise self-esteem as well as enhance relationships with peers who have similar interests. Ultimately, it is these fine-tuned longstanding talents that may receive recognition at local to national levels and may significantly increase the probability of acceptance to a top university.
- Importance of Motivation: It is always best to encourage your child to work his hardest and pursue his passions. While it may be hard to motivate your child, try to do so in any way possible such as creating a rewards system. Additionally, if your child is on the younger side, encourage your child to dabble in many of his interests so that he may later ultimately hone in on just one or two of them.
- Resumes are Crucial: An excellent record of your child’s activities and awards is quite useful and serves to be significant during the college application process. A resume should include sections on academics, honors and awards, community service, extracurricular activities, and more. Disregard advice to keep your child’s resume to just one page. Further, colleges are really only concerned with activities and accomplishments during the high school years so it isn’t necessary to start a resume prior to this time.
- Key Interest Areas:
- Writing: If your child displays a proclivity towards writing, encourage this interest. Not only is writing fun, but it serves as stimulant for creativity. Many children enjoy writing stories and even books and publishing such works may even be a possibility, or at the very least, a goal that will self-motivate your child. Also, parents of young writers should look into writing competitions for children of different ages.
- Science/Math: There are a plethora of books and magazines for those children interested in such fields. Also, there are many science/math geared summer programs and competitions that your children may enjoy. Furthermore, as your child approaches his high school years, you should look into opportunities at any nearby universities for hands-on laboratory work with professors.
- Music: Many children love music whether it be playing an instrument such as the flute or clarinet or even singing. Encouragement of this talent is great and can range from having your child perform in a local or state orchestra to providing him with extra classes or lessons to further develop his talent.
- Athletics: There are various sports ranging from swimming to tennis to fencing that your child may enjoy. If your child has a passion for sports, support your child by encouraging him to take lessons or join a team. If your child shows an extremely strong talent for a particular sport, this may serve to be an important factor in college admissions if he can be recruited.
- Time Constraints: If your child has many diverse interests, it may be difficult or even impossible to fit all of your child’s passions into the day. There is just not enough time! Thus, as your child ages, it is important to assess the value of your child’s interests so that he may allot most of his time to just a few passions that he may ultimately excel in.