What is a Smart Journey?

Emma has a passion for foreign languages. She spent four summers in three different language immersion programs and finished high school fluent in Spanish and French.

Jacob’s interest in the Humanities led him to the Oxbridge Program in Scotland....while studying British History, he also explored the historic town of St. Andrews with faculty and students from around the world.

Nadine does not have a focus in a specific subject but wanted to learn more about global issues and have the experience of living away from home prior to college.  She attended Duke’s Summer Program for High School Students.

Kevin knows he wants to further his study in math and science but wanted to stay close to home so the COSMOS program at UCSD was a perfect fit.

Amanda wanted to explore another way of life....she went on a Putney Student Travel Tour to Vietnam and as part of her trip lived with a local family.

Dan wants to increase his photography skills and joined National Geographic Expeditions to explore a new part of the world, practice his craft and create work for his developing portfolio. 

Although the teens described above have different interests, they all attended an academic enrichment or meaningful travel program during the summer....i.e. they went on a “Smart Journey.”  

As you read this post, some of you may say “my middle/high school student has enough pressure and homework during the school year, why would I have them spend part of their summer focused on anything academic or put them in what could be an uncomfortable situation?!”

Now consider why a “Smart Journey” should be of interest

:Meaningful Engagement is Relaxing

As Elizabeth Wissner-Gross states in the book What High Schools Don’t Tell You, “Many parents wrongly equate decompressing with sitting idly with no planned activities but sometimes the structure of either an organized program or scheduled plan of activities can be far more relaxing and fulfilling than whiling away time or simply “hanging out.”  Thus, one can “relax” by exploring in depth a topic of interest and they can do so without the pressure of grades.  They can focus on the joy of learning and may gain an edge in developing an area of expertise.

Living Independently is Good Practice

Students who live away from home have the opportunity to develop independence and resilience.  Thus, when they go to college, they can focus on academics and co-curricular activities.  They will have had experience in living independently among their peers.  New experiences may also develop increased confidence and leadership skills.

Peer Influence Is Significant

The majority of students who elect to attend summer enrichment programs are focused and ambitious.  In addition, many programs require an essay/transcript and/or a teacher recommendation.  It is always a benefit to keep company with students who value learning and education.

A “Demonstrated Interest” is Attractive

I’ve heard several admission officers state “I am looking for a well-rounded class, not a well-rounded student.”  Admission officers seek out students who have developed an area of expertise and/or had unique experiences. This makes the class as a whole more interesting. Thus, students who have completed summer enrichment courses may have an edge in college admissions.