Teen Summer Jobs

by Denver Dad

I thought this article would be of interest to Totebaggers as many of our kids are nearing this age.

What Happened to the Teen Summer Job?

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123 thoughts on “Teen Summer Jobs

  1. At least around here, many of the people doing what I would consider typical summer teen jobs like waitressing, nannying, and retail are in their mid-20s to early 30s.

    The unemployment rate for adults is high, particularly for those who haven’t finished college.

    The Totebagland parents of high schoolers in our neighborhood have said their kids have a hard time finding jobs given the more experienced competition and the limited hours they can work during the school year.

  2. We still have teen lifeguards at our pool, and there are always a bunch of teens working at Chick-fil-A. We also get some periodic solicitations from neighborhood teens who want to do landscaping or lawn care, babysitting, or pet sitting.

  3. The unemployment rate for adults is high, particularly for those who haven’t finished college.

    No, it’s not.

  4. I should say, not high historically. I think the reason is something other than lack of available jobs. Certainly one big component is fewer kids with year round jobs. Take a typical ice cream shop, demand will start to rise as the weather warms in May and won’t trail off until early October. You’d want someone willing to work nights and weekends from say May 1 to September 30. These days many parents won’t allow that.

  5. All the camp counselors at summer camp are teens (They can attend summer CIT sessions when they are 14-15 years. My kids will probably go this route). The car wash place is full of teens. The ice-cream places have teens working at the counter. For fast food places, those are less of a summer job than a full time job. My colleague had her college age daughter waitressing but that was an on call job and she ended up working very few hours in the summer. Another colleague had his son in a local theme park job. That was a good summer job with fixed hours. Another teen got a job at a mall. That was good too, enough fixed hours.

  6. There are high schoolers on the registers at our drug store this summer. However, the main register is regularly worked during the daytime in the school year by a man with definite but manageable communication or mental challenges, with no ill effects to anyone, so I think the typical teen could handle the job. However, the grocery stores require that cashiers be 18, and in fact they are usually middle aged, both men and women.

    As for casual work, it is pretty difficult to entrust the care of your children at the beach into the hands of a 14 year old summer mother’s helper if the culture deems her not mature enough to take an airplane alone in the era of instantaneous communication devices.

  7. Retail and fast food hire around here for the summer as well as parks and recreation for landscaping, lifeguarding and softball. Farm work is available but not many teens do it. Babysitting is also a good summer job- we may get a babysitter next summer or the next.

  8. In my limited experience of my very Totebaggy neighborhood, it seems that many parents think that working crappy fast-food jobs isn’t enriching enough. Whereas my experience of working summers as a lifeguard, a library page, and on-call for a temp agency was one of the very best experiences I ever had, because I learned so much about different work environments and how much it sucks to not have a college degree. (The library page job got me started on the road to library school, though.)

  9. Farm work is available but not many teens do it.

    WCE, I have a friend who reminds me very much of you except that he’s male and almost 20 years older. Accepted at MIT but took a full ride to Iowa State instead and spent entire career as an engineer in Silicon Valley. But he can tell very funny stories about how horrible it is to spend summers in Iowa detassling corn. Apparently detassling corn all summer is one of those experiences you never get over.

  10. I just had a teen come to my door last night asking to mow the lawn. I am ecstatic – I thought our suburbs didn’t have such things, as the few neighbors I had asked about this had looked at me quizzically and said they mowed their own yards.

    Meme’s comment made me laugh out loud. I started babysitting when I was 9, for a neighbor. Now that my oldest is almost 7, it amazes me that everyone thought that was okay. But, it was. I never had a traditional summer job. I had a couple of camps that I went to, and my parent went camping many weekends, so we were out of town. I did a lot of Childcare, but never on a regular schedule.

  11. I think the article gets a lot of stuff right. One thing that’s different here for my kids than for my friends and me when I was growing up in CA was that we all had hour licenses at 16 (middle of my sophomore year), so we weren’t always reliant on our folks to pick us up from work when the movies / ice cream / burger place closed at 10pm or later.

    Also, now, I see more of the trend for the teen to work a relatively full-time schedule during summer and over Christmas break plus at least 10 hours/week the rest of the time.

    And +1 to Rhett : You’d want someone willing to work nights and weekends from say May 1 to September 30. Although our season is typically shorter than that, more like Memorial Day – Labor Day with a couple of weekends on either end.

    There are plenty of “summer” only scut jobs, landscaping grunt which my oldest did for 2 summers comes to mind, but as RMS would say, the key thing for succeeding in those jobs is the ability to show up (read: have a car). I think a lot of city kids would do those jobs, but they don’t have a way to get to the remote/suburban landscaping/garden center efficiently for a 7am start. So totebag kids who have no transportation issues are perfect…except most of them don’t really want to do that kind of work, right?

  12. “Farm work is available but not many teens do it.”

    A few years ago, new safety regulations significantly restricted the types of work that people under 18 could do. My kids can work with livestock or machinery on our place, my nephews can’t. There isn’t much useful work for the under 18 set. We do have one kid doing chores around here, but he will be 18 next month and become useful then. He is doing a lot of hoeing and picking up until then.

  13. Meme is right.

    Think about it: +20 years ago you had free range kids and those kids turned into free range teens. You’d start mowing lawns at 10, get your working papers at 14, your permit at 15.5, your license at 16, buy a car with your saving. At 16 you were a fully autonomous unit with a car, a job and your own money.

    I think many now find the idea of a 16 year old living essentially an adult life preposterous.

  14. In my region, many of the fast food stores are franchises, sometimes investor owned with several nearby stores grouped under a single franchise group. (Downtown Dunkin Donuts are a prime example). The non investor franchisees, or the management hired to run the franchise groups, are often enterprising recent immigrants. So everyone who works at store x is Egyptian, or group y is Vietnamese, or store z is Honduran, often driving in from another neighborhood. Random neighborhood kids have no chance at those jobs – they go to the kids from the owner’s group.

  15. Some of my observations of what is limiting teens working:

    1. +1 to Fred about access by teens to transportation – it is hard for a working parent to get a teen who can’t drive themselves to/from a job there during the parent’s working hours. In my area, public transportation is pretty limited to getting them from our neighborhood to where they would have jobs.

    2. The “all or nothing” component – for many jobs the teen has to forego any other summer experiences as a week or more of vacation from a summer job is rare. This makes it hard to balance some work with some resume building summer activities.

    3. Many retailers here have gone to an 18+ work force, even though state law allows them to work as young as 14, with some restrictions. It seems it is to limit the liability of the employers. Of course, if there was not enough of a pool of 18+ workers, I am sure they would be finding ways around this.

    4. Expectations of adults that a 16-19 year old. It was common when I was growing up for 12 year olds and up to have regular babysitting jobs and newspaper routes. Then as they hit 16 and up “real” jobs – waitress, retail store jobs – cashier, stocker, bag person, etc. – became available. Adults expected you could handle these things, therefore you did. When adults think you are too immature, you will not be given an opportunity.

    5. With the workload some of these kids have in school plus their other extra curriculars, jobs overlapping with the school year can be hard to justify.

  16. Rhett – All true. But also, in a larger sense, it’s just another way that society is spending its productivity gains. One of my grandfathers dropped out before he even started high school in order to work to help support the family. That was around the time that some economists and sociologists were looking at these exponential increases in agricultural and industrial productivity and predicting that, in 50 years, a full-time job could be 20 hours per week, and we’d spend the rest of the time at the library or playing baseball.

    The productivity is there, but instead of everyone working part time, we’ve decided to extend childhood to 25 or so, and, of course, buy bigger houses, etc.

  17. The one thing my mother insisted on, was my getting a part time job as an undergrad. I had ample time. None of my friends’ parents thought that they should have their teens get jobs. The thought was you should complete college first. Only if your family was in dire straits did you work. I now see a similar attitude here.

  18. Milo – shh, no discussing the 20 hour work week, I just sent in a post on that! :)

    InMyDay only 16yos could work so I couldn’t have worked until the summer after I got out of HS. I did have a couple of internships at local businesses though.

    I see absolutely no teenagers working in our town unless it is at grocery check-out (and those are year-round PT jobs, not summer). If you live in a tourist destination, there are still lots of opportunities.

  19. in one of the prior iterations of this discussion, one Totebagger mentioned that she saw no particular benefits to requiring grunt work of teenagers or even college students, and that kids from privileged backgrounds whose first paid job was at 23 turned out just fine. For some of us, the entire objective was to get through our childhood and become independent actors as soon as possible. That colors our thinking about the process of entering adulthood. Also, my observation of my kids and my friends’ kids leads me to think that exposure to a wide range of behaviors, lifestyles and choices, including work environments, is part of a sound upbringing. Others differ, thinking that it is best to limit exposure (other than perhaps doing good works) until adulthood to a peer group that models the desired educational and/or moral/religious and/or economic behaviors.

  20. Rhett – All true. But also, in a larger sense, it’s just another way that society is spending its productivity gains.

    That makes sense. What I find strange is that a typical teen today likely enjoys less leisure than in 1985. They seem to be working harder rather than less hard.

  21. I’ve said for a long time that it’s probably at least as important to figure out what you DON’T want to do as it is to figure out what you DO want to do. That’s the real value of working low-level scut jobs when young. Not only will a kid figure out there a just some things they don’t want to do, and some types of people for whom they don’t want to work, they’ll likely be exposed to some things that seem worth looking into for the next (summer) job or as a career.

  22. Fred – I have only ever thought about “what I want to be when I grow up” (at least when I was more than 10 or so) in the negative. I don’t want to be X, Y, and Z. I still don’t have an answer about what I DO want to be when I grow up.

  23. “I think many now find the idea of a 16 year old living essentially an adult life preposterous.” All I see around here is 16 year olds who have all the freedom of an adult with none of the responsibilities.

    I hope to have my kids work some traditional summer jobs. It is important to be humbled. It is important to meet and interact with people that are different than you. It is important to work with and for people who don’t give a $hit who your dad is. It is important to appreciate how freaking hard some people have to work for a dollar. (yes my Midwestern is showing)

  24. In my urban neighborhood, there are still a lot of HS and college kids working at the ice cream and Italian Ice shops in seasonal jobs. Also, the Park District and lots of the private day camps hire tons of teen counselors, lifeguard, coaches, referees, etc. The coaches for my son’s basketball class through the PD were HS basketball players, etc. The peanut and candy vendors at the baseball stadiums are often HS aged teens. Those are all jobs that ramp up in the summer that I would absolutely encourage DS to get when the time comes.

    The retail and restaurant jobs seem to be more college age & up though, at least near me. Do teens still work at teen-oriented stores at the mall? I haven’t been in one for so long that I have no idea. That was always the most coveted job when I was in HS – the hours weren’t bad compared to restaurant work, and the discount was often decent.

    I detassled and rogued corn here & there. It was my first job where I got an actual paycheck and a W-2. It was ridiculously awful & I never did it for more than a few days at a time. I always wonder if there are still armies of LMC/MC local kids doing that work or if it has changed since the 80’s/90’s.

  25. Ahh, so I could never figure out detasseling. The way it was described to me all corn needed to be detasseled. But, with 80 million acres of corn how were there enough people to do it all? But, you don’t detassel all corn, just corn that is being grown to be next year’s seed corn.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detasseling

  26. My teen is participating in a program where they train them to be a day camp counselor, you need to have completed the 9th grade and it is 9 weeks long. A few will complete it the first summer – in part due to the camp’s selecting more than they need due to the rate of attrition and in part because the camp allows the flexibility around other teen activities. Most complete the program part way through the second summer at which time most have turned 16.

    Even if my teen chooses not to do this next summer, the 3 weeks this summer have been a learning experience – from doing boring jobs (sweeping the floor) to repetitive jobs (put child on horse, walk horse around circle 5 times, take child off, disinfect helmet, repeat) to dirty jobs (cleaning out the trash can after lunch that someone else forgot to put a bag in). She gets evaluated at the end of each week and given feedback for improvement. If she does not score high enough must repeat that week of training.

  27. I hope to have my kids work some traditional summer jobs. It is important to be humbled. It is important to meet and interact with people that are different than you. It is important to work with and for people who don’t give a $hit who your dad is. It is important to appreciate how freaking hard some people have to work for a dollar. (yes my Midwestern is showing)

    I agree. One of the biggest benefits from working these jobs is so you understand why you don’t want to work them for the rest of your life.

  28. DH did a form of farm work when he was a kid – picking berries. He said it was the hardest work he’d ever done – and was amazed at 1) the skill and speed of immigrant women who were depending on the income and 2) his fellow teens who would screw around and make very little. DH couldn’t figure out why you’d spend all day out in the fields and not try to pick as many berries as possible in order to make as much money as possible.

    I washed dishes at our college’s summer school program for several summers. It was definitely valuable experience. I would much rather DD work a minimum wage job than pay to have her volunteer somewhere overseas. Those paying to volunteer overseas gigs for teens seem really stupid to me. There’s plenty of local poverty that could use local volunteer help.

    DD is 15 1/2 this summer. This summer is taken up with driver’s ed, crew, soccer and some babysitting. Next summer we may hire her to be a part-time nanny to her 10 year old brother – she’d be cheaper than the college student we have watching him this summer. Or hire one of DD’s friends if DD can get a better paying job.

  29. In this area, most of the jobs that would have been held by teens in my day are now held by adults, largely recent immigrants. For example, a lot of the people working in the gas stations are Africans or Pakistanis. One supermarket in our area seems to be heavilly staffed by women in hijab. I also see a lot of middle aged women who appear to be coming up from the Bronx, working in our CVS and supermarkets. There is one gourmet food store that hires local college age teens – I know this because I know some of the kids working there.

  30. 2. The “all or nothing” component – for many jobs the teen has to forego any other summer experiences as a week or more of vacation from a summer job is rare. This makes it hard to balance some work with some resume building summer activities.

    This ties back to last week’s post about things that our kids’ generation will have a backlash against. IMO, there will be a big backlash against the “resume building” for college applications.

  31. I think that employers now demand far more flexibility on the part of employees than teens can give, even back in my day. My understanding is that a lot of PT employees have to be on call for shifts at any time. I think this is a big reason why teens are not working these jobs in the school year, plus adults with no HS or even just HS have so few options that they grab the jobs

  32. All four of our teens (16 to almost 20) and nearly all of their friends are working this summer, maybe it is a Midwest thing. Its great to keep them busy. The two college aged are working full time – one in an office setting, one moving cars around for a rental company. The younger two work part-time retail and at a local ice cream place. Earning their own spending money is good for them. Its also been nice to see them realize for themselves that there are adults working in these roles trying to support themselves and/or a household and understand how tough that might be and how draining some of their jobs are physically. Good encouragement to stay in school – the live examples are much more effective than anything parents can say. My son worked on a road crew filling pot holes and picking up road kill last summer – its was awesome and he has some great stories. He thought it was entertaining, but couldn’t imagine being 35 and doing that in the heat.

    It doesn’t seem too tough for teens in this area to find part-time work. Ours and most of their friends who took some time to job hunt were able to land something within a few weeks. Lots of retail, summer construction/landscaping, nanny jobs, lifeguarding, etc. One is working two retail jobs to pick up as many hours as possible until school starts. The older two will probably shift to internships or something closer to their college work after this summer.

  33. Moxie,

    All I see around here is 16 year olds who have all the freedom of an adult with none of the responsibilities.

    In one study, AAA found that just 54 percent of teens are licensed before they turn 18. Forty-four percent got their licenses within a year of turning 16 (or the minimum driving age for their state).

    It was 85% 20 years ago.

    All the freedom of an adult would include the freedom to go where you want, with who you want, when you want. Many certainly don’t have that freedom anymore.

  34. My two oldest 20 & 18 have jobs. The older one will continue his beyond summer @ probably 20 hrs/wk at the big national drug store. He likes the work, it’s convenient to his house, pay is decent enough. The younger one has a traditional summer job at one of the local colleges doing facilities repairs and projects. 40hrs/wk 730-4 M-F, so he still has plenty of weekend time with his friends. Once back in college, he’ll probably do something part time since he’s figured out the college thing and he likes the $$ too much to wait until next spring to earn again.
    The 15.5yo tried a little to get a job, but I think it’s just easier for many places to hire older kids/young adults to do that work than take on the headache of complying with the rules limiting what a <16yo can do and when they can work. NY is sticky like that.

  35. My husband paid for his own college, so worked any hard crappy job he could get that paid decent. He did farm work in the summers, and could earn a semester’s (much cheaper) tuition over Christmas break doing asbestos removal. He seems to feel pretty strongly that his kids not have to do that, so my takeaway is that he found it to be just crappy, not so much character building. My older child worked retail at the nearby outlet mall starting in high school. They wanted too many hours and too many late nights for it to work during school. She has been hired everywhere she has applied just in the hour it took them to run the background check. I think there was probably something to be learned from looking for work if it had actually required more than 3 minutes of effort. My second child does not have a license, but will be expected to work next summer. Between school summer assignments and getting in required volunteer hours, he’s at least doing something.

    In our neighborhood, there are so many low cost landscaping crews and yards need to be mowed year-round, so it’s not really work that is available to a teen. I see teens starting car-wash services, mailbox painting or replacement, and tutoring services, as well as babysitting and life guarding. They can pick up extra cash life guarding private parties as well. The local tutoring centers are hiring high school and college kids. I would like to see both my kids do that so they have some tutoring skills they can use to offer private tutoring services.

  36. RMS said “it seems that many parents think that working crappy fast-food jobs isn’t enriching enough. Whereas my experience of working summers as a lifeguard, a library page, and on-call for a temp agency was one of the very best experiences I ever had, ”

    Um, having worked at all of these sorts of jobs as a teen and college student (not lifeguard, but camp counselor which is similar), I have to say there is an enormous difference between working at a crappy fast food job, and being a library page or temping in offices. Library and office work is pleasant and you actually learn some skills. Lifeguard and camp counselor are “fun” work positions where you hang out with a lot of teens from your same social set. On the other hand, working at fast food teaches nothing, since the jobs are largely broken down into such mindless components that I think robots will soon replace people. And while you might think it is romantic to hang out with people whose main purpose in life is scoring some meth, for me it was just being stuck with the same kids from my HS that I was trying to escape from. There was simply no comparison between my library and camp counselor jobs, and my Wendy’s/Taco Bell/McDonalds jobs.

  37. I notice that lots of kids in my DS1’s age group are doing the junior camp counselor thing, or plan to next year. I think my DS1 will join them next year by being a junior counselor at his programming camp. However, I really do not consider junior counselor jobs to be actual real jobs. I think those are just a way to continue going to camp when you are older.

  38. I can say from experience that there’s a huge difference between working at a car wash, mostly with Hispanic immigrants, and lifeguarding. Lifeguarding was awesome.

    Usually at the car wash, I was at the station where I would get in the car as it was pushed out of the tunnel and drive it (I was 14) to where we would dry it, remove any dead bugs from the grille that the wash left behind, clean the wheels of any residual brake dust (Mercedes are the WORST for this, and their wheels were the hardest to clean) and Armor-All the tires if the customer had elected that premium service. The way you knew that a car was about to be pushed out of the tunnel was the sound of the blower/air dryers spinning up.

    I used to hear those dryers in my head when I was falling asleep at night.

  39. I live in a seed corn area and there are less teenagers hired than when I was a kid. I detasseled from age 12 – 15. The season was for a few weeks. It was hard work and somewhat miserable (wet in the morning and hot later in the day). But I was working with my friends which was fun and appreciated the paycheck at the end.

    Kids would get fired if they missed too many tassels, so it was an introduction to real life at an early age : )

  40. Oh yeah, and to most of my coworkers, Armor-All was “leche,” based on its color and consistency. So we all just adopted the term.

  41. Ack! Just realized that the lawn mowing teen is from the People of the Perfect Lawn across the street. When I complimented them on it (the one time I have met them) they said, “oh! We have so much work to do. It is in terrible shape right now.” I imagine there was a dinner conversation about what terrible people we are and how we we bringing down property values and they decided to force the youngun to come rectify our transgressions.

  42. I cleaned out chicken coops one summer when I was around 14. It was thankfully a part time job. I suspect it wasn’t legal either, but I was working for a family friend so it was all informal. I couldn’t eat chicken for a while after that – I had no idea that chickens poop into their food.

  43. @Mooshi – Free range chickens inhabited part of the yards at my grandparents’ house. The yard was a mess. I have collected eggs. My cousin tried to get an egg when the hen was sitting on it. She got herself pecked.

  44. Mooshi, the big thing I learned from doing office temp work is that most people who work in offices are really dumb. (Not us Totebaggers, of course.) That’s a really useful thing to know. And lifeguarding involved cleaning the toilets and locker rooms and, when you’re the junior guard, being the one who gets to dive in the pool to fish out the turd some idiot kid has left there. And the other guards were very much not my social set, so hanging out with them was awkward.

    so my takeaway is that he found it to be just crappy

    Reminds me of my young social studies teacher complaining about having to work during the school year to put himself through Stanford. He talked about all the social and recreational opportunities he missed, and said that that “character-building” stuff was just crap. Of course now the idea of being able to put yourself through Stanford on part-time work is so laughable, or sobbable.

  45. “And lifeguarding involved cleaning the toilets and locker rooms”

    ?????

    Oh God no! Never.

  46. Milo, you mean you *didn’t* have to do that?! We did. Off the clock, what’s more. I’m still bitter about the off-the-clock part.

  47. All three are Lifeguarding. DD is supplementing that with private swim lessons and babysitting. We had to push oldest DS to get his certificatIon but fortunately he is liking the work and loving the $. The swim areas are all nearby so youngest DS rides his bike to work.

  48. Now you former lifeguards will laugh but DS says that there is too much horsing around by the lifeguards and not enough keeping an eye on the pool at camp. DS is probably just envious of the cool teenagers. From what I have observed, while on the pool deck the life guards are quite alert and will not hesitate to blow their whistles.

  49. HM – I think the main difference is that I worked for a lifeguard/pool operator staffing company. I was a contractor, never an employee of the specific club. The pay was better (maybe $10 an hour in the 90s?) because I had both certifications and was willing to go where needed. I got to see a variety of environments, from Totebaggy private swim clubs to Section 8 apartment complexes. Also hotels, and that’s where I would read the entire Post, front to back, including the classifieds and my horoscope, every day.

  50. I had to clean the bathrooms as a lifeguard too, but all we did was splash some cleaning liquid around the concrete room and spray the walls, toilets, stalls, etc., with a hose until the bubbles washed down the drain in the middle of the floor.

    I’m in a college town, so I’m not sure which workers are students who stuck around to party all summer and which are high-schoolers. The few teens I know are busy with sports clubs, academic camps, theatre productions, and other resume-building activities, so I’m guessing the landscapers, waitresses, camp counselors, etc. are mostly college students.

  51. Off the clock, what’s more. I’m still bitter about the off-the-clock part.

    It’s too bad the statute of limitations has expired. As I understand it, that sort of thing is very illegal.

  52. “there is too much horsing around by the lifeguards and not enough keeping an eye on the pool at camp”

    Well, a 3 yo drowned at the Art of Animation Disney resort a few days ago. Only because I’ve seen it start to happen right in front of me a couple times, I’m a little obsessive about it. It happens so quickly and quietly.

    When we go to the lake, my kids aren’t allowed to go anywhere near the dock without life jackets on. I told the older two the other night that I’ll consider relaxing it when they can pass a swim test that I arbitrarily described on the spot as four lengths of our pool and tread water for 10 minutes.

  53. I think one other factor is the shortening of the summer. Whatever happened to 12 weeks? Ours is basically 9 weeks, thanks to all of the half-days and “in-service” days they have added to the school calendar. Plus, assuming DD procrastinates as usual, the last week is going to be taken up with doing all of the mandatory summer reading before HS starts. If you’re running a year-round business, I don’t even know that it make sense to train someone who’s only going to make it two months — and then the kids will probably ask for a week or two off for family vacation to boot.

    Between “regular” hourly jobs going to the Starbucks on-demand system, and my kids’ summer breaks being two weeks shorter than when I was a kid, it basically makes the teens appealing as employees only for the summer-oriented jobs — the ice cream shop, camp counselors, seasonal farm or yard work options.

    I would really like my kid to have a summer job. I just learned so much about how much higher and lower the bar was than in school — on the one hand, all I had to do was show up and do really simple stuff; on the other hand, when I screwed up, there was no nice teacher to cut me slack because I was smart. And I think my kid is going to thrive in a role where she is given responsibility and gets paid for it — but even if she screws up, I’d really rather her make those mistakes and learn those lessons when all that is at risk is $6-8/hr. But realistically, she’s a reasonably appealing hire only for those kinds of jobs that are specifically designed around summer break — like, say, camp counselor (which she is training for this summer).

  54. LfB,

    I’m assuming that a job during the school year is off the table entirely?

  55. @Milo – I have observed kids who have taken summer swim lessons able to swim well that summer but then not hit the pool at all till the next spring. Then, when tested in the spring they can’t tread water and fail the test. They have to go back and practice in the pool some more.
    There have been big meltdowns at failing the swim test when you thought you knew to swim.

  56. Louise – Oh, that’s a good point. My older two are actually making really good progress this summer. They have free reign at our pool, including the deep end, but they’re not strong swimmers yet.

    A lake or ocean, though, is a whole ‘nother can of worms.

  57. @Rhett — don’t know, too early to say. I suspect the answer is yes, given the likely workload (and the ADHD-inspired inefficiency at doing it). But she doesn’t even start HS until the fall, so we’ll figure that out in another year or two.

  58. Louise, at my dd’s summer programming they go to the pool twice a week. They are tested each time. Some days she passes, some days she doesn’t. She is still young enough that if she isn’t focused, she doesn’t swim well. But from what I’ve been told by the counselors, even when she passes she stays in the shallow pool with her friends.

    I’m right there with Milo on having life jackets on all the time near the lake. And now I’m traumatized by what I witnessed last week.

  59. As an employer, I would hate to hire teens. I quit jobs at the drop of a hat. I’d have plans I didn’t want to miss out on, ask to be off, they’d say no, so I would quit. I had a friend who didn’t have the guts to quit so called in to say she had chickenpox and just never went back. It was so easy to just get another and my parents didn’t really want me working during the school year anyway. (I stopped that by the time I had college summer jobs). Staffing with employees like that would be a huge pain. I’m sure plenty of teens were more reliable than I was, but how do you find them? I seemed like such a responsible girl….

  60. Jobs here are hard to get till you’re 16. Farm work is limited to picking and weeding, as Murphy commented. I pay attention to the jobs that the children of my colleagues/friends get because I want my kids to get jobs or engage in another productive activity, like an internship at the local university. Mr. WCE worked at McDonald’s and thought it was a good experience. He especially enjoyed racing to unload the frozen foods delivery truck with his friend. Some employers will work around high school activities because they want to hire responsible kids- those are the jobs you want.

    One family with 4 boys close in age had multiple kids working for the same employer, bagging groceries or making smoothies. Income is very limited in their family so they had to work to pay for clothes and expenses during high school. They are good workers and when it was legal, I think managers would hire a brother (say, at the grocery store) even when normally the manager would prefer someone who was 18.

    Some college kids are learning that babysitting is better than an on call job- it’s easier and your employer knows what hours you’ll be needed. I’ll probably talk to Mr WCE about hiring one of our local LDS babysitters or the daughter of a friend from church as babysitters next summer

  61. Rhett, you asked “Why the college student? Mainly to drive them to their activities?” Yes. I want someone with their own car who can drive my kids wherever they need to go. Last summer especially, there was a lot of driving DD to her various soccer practices, music lessons, etc. This summer there’s a bit less driving as DD takes the bus quite a bit – but the nanny took DS and his friend to a slot car racing place.

  62. Milo:
    BSA Swim Test

    Swimmer
    •Jump feet first into water over the head, level off, and begin swimming.
    •Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes: side, breast, trudgen, or crawl. Swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke.
    •The 100 yards must be completed without stops and must include at least one sharp turn.
    •Rest by floating…Long enough to demonstrate ability to rest when exhausted.

    Your off-the-cuff is only a bit tougher (the 10-min water treading). I thought my kids had to do a water-tread before being ok’d to swim at scout camp, but it was shorter, like maybe 5 mins. Or maybe that was for something else.

  63. This makes it hard to balance some work with some resume building summer activities.

    Isn’t it true (CofC correct me if I’m wrong) that for the vast majority of students college admissions will be almost entirely based on class rank, GPA and SAT scores with all the oboe lessons and soccer camps influencing things only slightly, if at all?

  64. Any Rome (Italy…not New York or Georgia) hotel recs near Piazza Navona? I’ve got a couple, but looking for alternatives. Thanks.

  65. We have a neighborhood pool with teenage lifeguards. I hadn’t even thought about that as a possible future job for my DS until now. It would be flexible. I think I would be annoyed if my kid’s summer job precluded family vacations, especially since I won’t take him out of school for a vacation. haha!

  66. Over the last couple of years I’ve been going through some very unpleasant skin cancer treatments. There was a pic of a young blond girl going through the same thing that went viral on Facebook that gives an idea, if you’ve seen it. Life guarding is absolutely not an option for my fair-skinned kids.

  67. “Isn’t it true (CofC correct me if I’m wrong) that for the vast majority of students college admissions will be almost entirely based on class rank, GPA and SAT scores”

    Yes, but for most top colleges extracurriculars are very important.

    Rome hotel in a great location near the Piazza Navona is Hotel Della Torre Argentina. Walking distance to lots, and bus stop right in front and taxi stand a block away.

  68. “I think one other factor is the shortening of the summer. ”

    Good point! Especially if you want to take a 10-day family trip.

  69. Yes, but for most top colleges extracurriculars are very important.

    While true, the number of kids participating in these activities seems vastly higher than the number who have a realistic shot at a “top” college.

  70. “All the freedom of an adult would include the freedom to go where you want, with who you want, when you want. Many certainly don’t have that freedom anymore.”

    Rhett, I can only speak for my area. Lots of them don’t drive but they all have Uber that their parents pay for. They actually dine at nice restaurants instead of hitting taco bell like we did. They have no chores in their home. No curfew. Many of them are allowed to have boyfriends and girlfriends sleep over whenever they like. Basically like grown ups without a job.

  71. Rhett, even at my school it can be important. We do admissions based on SAT and GPA. but we offer a number of scholarships for which the type of extracurriculars you did in HS matter a lot. I am on the selection committee for a science scholarship – we absolutely look for science oriented extracurriculars. And this particular scholarship pays all of the tuition, so it is a desirable one.

  72. A quick googling says requiring a FAFSA for merit based scholarships is fairly common. I can only assume they tend to not give them to students from totebag median income families?

  73. There are a lot of colleges that give merit scholarships along the lines of (e.g.) HS GPA of 3.5 and SAT (Verbal + Math) of 1300 = $X,000/year for 4 years. You still have to complete the FAFSA but if you clear the hurdle you get the money.
    There’s one school I know of that will cover all students’ books (@ $500/semester) for 4 years if they come for a campus visit before a certain date…fairly late in the admissions process…and file a FAFSA on time. Essentially a $1,000/yr scholarship for just showing up.

  74. Trudgen? Seriously? I happen to know how to do trudgen but only because I’m a history geek wrt swimming. I’m surprised that’s still an option.

  75. Rhett–DD got merit scholarships from schools that required the FAFSA from us. I think it’s because some are need and merit based, so when they allocate the scholarships they can see who should get what. ( that’s what one school told me anyway).
    On topic, DS has 10 weeks between the end of school and the start of two a day practices. He works a couple times a month for a caterer so picks up some cash that way, but really no time for a “real” summer job.

  76. BL and Fred,

    Good point. But, what about Mooshi’s extracurricular based scholarships?

  77. @Moxie – is their only job to do well at school and land a spot at a top college ? Here even Totebag kids aim at the state flagships. Very few get into the top colleges. Some prefer certain private colleges because they get a scholarship.

  78. Who knows? Depends on the terms of the gift to establish the scholarship(s). If it says “…for students with demonstrated need” then, there you have it. Need is a federally defined value based on what’s on the FAFSA, so the school needs to look at that in order to be compliant with the wording of the gift.

    Without that or similar wording, all the committee has to do is pick the best candidate(s) who meet the established criteria e.g., “…for students pursuing a degree in computer science and who have completed X hours of research under the supervision of a member of the computer science department or technical other discipline, subject to the approval of the committee.”

  79. Many so-called “merit” scholarships do take financial need into account, even when it’s not clear that is the case. It’s sometimes hidden in the fine print, or probably more commonly the accomplishments of needy students are weighted more heavily in granting any award.

    That being said, many if not most pure merit scholarships require submission of FAFSA. The reason given, which mostly makes sense, is that for those students who qualify the school wants to use up need funds (often government money) first and then only use their merit funds secondarily.

    Most of those merit scholarships (tuition discounts) at second-tier colleges require high stats, but also consider extracurriculars.

  80. CofC,

    Then is it fair to say that the totebag (and parents in general) fascination with extracurriculars is significantly out of proportion to any admissions and scholarship benefits they might confer?

  81. I’ve not seen anyone mention the rise in minimum wage as a factor of teen unemployment. With California moving to the $15.00 an hour min. Do business really want to pay a high schooler $15.00 an hour?

  82. Betty,

    This is a nation trend and the federal minimum wage hasn’t risen since IIRC 2007.

  83. Correction: At the federal level, the minimum wage was last increased on July 24, 2009, when it rose from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour, the last step of a three-step increase approved by Congress in 2007. However, before 2007, the minimum wage had been stuck at $5.15 per hour for ten years.

  84. Then is it fair to say that the totebag (and parents in general) fascination with extracurriculars is significantly out of proportion to any admissions and scholarship benefits they might confer?

    My aunt is involved with admissions at NYU and she said they prefer to see a commitment to one thing rather than a scattering of things that were done just to build a resume.

  85. I hear the same thing from the admissions officer at my college…try to show a strong commitment to one or two activities. The would like to see if a student assumes a leadership role in the activity, or masters an instrument or sport etc.

    Rhett – I love the story about that couple from from the article. The Hebrew Home is at the very tip of the bronx near westchester.

  86. “Then is it fair to say that the totebag (and parents in general) fascination with extracurriculars is significantly out of proportion to any admissions and scholarship benefits they might confer?”

    My understanding is that it is nearly impossible to get into a top school based just on “class rank, GPA and SAT scores.”

    So for totebaggy parents who want their kids to get into a very good school, or at least be at that level, and thus very attractive to schools a cut below, it is not necessarily out of proportion.

  87. “My aunt is involved with admissions at NYU and she said they prefer to see a commitment to one thing rather than a scattering of things that were done just to build a resume.”

    Yes, this is what I’ve heard many times as I’ve dived into the world of college admissions. Sometime between when I was in HS and now, things changed from colleges wanting well-rounded students to wanting a well-rounded student body.

  88. “That being said, many if not most pure merit scholarships require submission of FAFSA. The reason given, which mostly makes sense, is that for those students who qualify the school wants to use up need funds (often government money) first and then only use their merit funds secondarily.”

    I think it also allows the colleges to pump up their stats for the %age of need they provide.

  89. “Here even Totebag kids aim at the state flagships. Very few get into the top colleges.”

    In some states, the state flagships are top colleges. CA and TX come to mind right away.

    Are Purdue and GA Tech considered flagships?

  90. And in many states, the state flagships are probably the top schools in those states.

  91. “However, I really do not consider junior counselor jobs to be actual real jobs.”

    Do they get paid?

  92. “Free range chickens inhabited part of the yards at my grandparents’ house. The yard was a mess. I have collected eggs.”

    Were there free range roosters around:? I’m wondering about fertilization. Not everyone likes fertilized eggs.

  93. SSM, does SAT prep not fit into your DD’s summer schedule for this summer or next?

    Around here, it’s very common for kids to take SAT prep the summer before junior year, and then take the SAT that fall.

    DS wanted to work this summer– he’s a TA for a biology class, working about 26 hours/week– and that conflicts with the SAT prep class. It’s not a bad job; I think it really helps him learn biology at a deeper level than as a student.

    And it may help prep him for an SAT Bio test; it turns out he didn’t think about this when he took Bio as a freshman (unlike Mooshi’s DS); and won’t take AP Bio until his senior year, and there’s no sense in taking an SAT at the end of senior year, so he’s now thinking about taking the SAT Bio test this fall.

    BTW, Mooshi, we found out that the SAT Bio is one of the harder SAT subject tests, especially Eco, where an 800 is about a 98%ile, unlike chem, where an 800 is 90 %ile (one of DS’ friends was despondent about how his 790 put him at 87 %ile).

  94. “However, I really do not consider junior counselor jobs to be actual real jobs.”

    Do they get paid?

    If this is the same as a counselor-in-training, then my experience is that they do not get paid, they actually pay for the privilege of working.

  95. costofcollege – sorry to be late in commenting (where did the day go?), but I wanted to mention that my kids did get money from schools without doing anything. When they got their letters of acceptance they were told how much they would get in merit aid (or award, or perhaps it was some other term) each year. This was without filling out the FAFSA forms. Now, these were certainly not top 25 schools, but they were pretty good ones.

  96. I’m imagining a junior counselor does the work that 16 year olds can do at our church camp- assisting with kitchen prep, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping floors, putting away life jackets, etc. They get room and board in exchange for their work and are eventually eligible to become counselors at 18.

    I consider this a job (even though the pay is just room and board) but maybe other people wouldn’t. When we hire interns, this is the kind of thing we would consider “work” on a resume.

  97. Back in the day, I was able to get my license rifgt at 16, but now in Virginia is isixteen and three months.

  98. From what I read in day camp literature CIT is a camp where parents have to pay to send their kids. It is a training camp with a commitment to attend for a certain number of weeks. There is an interview prior to registration. It says “internship” in the literature.The whole day the CITs show up and are sent to the different areas of the camp. I guess you have to say what area you want to work in like aquatics, dance, sports etc.
    The actual counselors are an energetic bunch. If not anything else, it helps with social skills dealing with a bunch of kids, their parents, your fellow counselors and adult staffers.

    Regarding activities – how about the thought of an activity for it’s own sake. In the home country even without any resources/classes etc. the thinking was that a person has many talents and exposure to art, sport, music etc. was a good thing. There was no extra college credit for any of these things. Parents would have liked to have their children so something else other than hit the books every minute but there were hardly any resources. Now, there are a few more resources but it is still hard for the average parent.

  99. “Then is it fair to say that the totebag (and parents in general) fascination with extracurriculars is significantly out of proportion to any admissions and scholarship benefits they might confer?”

    Not necessarily, at least not for totebagger parents.

    Most totebagger parents have an interest (if not an obsession) with their kids attending a higher tier college, let’s say one ranked in the top 50 or 100 of US News. To get into top schools and usually to gain merit aid, activities that show a long-term commitment to a particular interest are important. State schools place less interest in this, but the top ones often use extracurriculars in some ways. A B+ student may find that other factors besides grades help seal the deal for admissions.

    A kid who took dance lessons for ten years, participated in all her school’s dance programs, taught dance to underprivileged kids, interned at her dance studio, collected used dance wear to donate to aspiring low-income dancers, etc. may not have much time to work for pay during high school.

  100. ssk — Yes, not all merit aid awards require completion of FAFSA. But many do.

  101. Even though CIT jobs are not usually paid, they certainly can be valuable experience for a resume. And of course the idea is that they will lead to paid jobs.

  102. Another point to consider is that UMC kids who struggle academically usually spend quite a bit of time in extra work just to maintain Bs or even Cs. Tutors, supplemental classes, and just extra time doing homework will take precedence over paid work. This may be needed just to get the kid to graduate high school ready for college. Most UMC parents feel pressured to get their kids into college, considering that even low-level administrative jobs use a college degree to screen applicants. Whatever their kids end up doing, parents still want them to have that college credential in their back pocket.

  103. ^ Maybe 20-40 years ago it was more likely that these parents were willing to let their kids who were not academically inclined to skip college and go right to work and/or vocational training, but with today’s credential inflation that’s less likely.

  104. This was back in 1972, but my sister got a lot of interest from top colleges not only because of excellent grades and test scores, but because she had been working (both volunteer and paid) with disabled kids since 6th grade. Lots of leadership roles there too. Monomania for the win!

  105. Coc – one of my neighbor’s had a daughter who returned home in the first semester of college. The girl took a job in retail. The mother was talking about getting her to attend Community College classes at the very least. The second child was headed to William and Mary.
    I know a few parents (and kids) who decided that they were more likely to complete college if they stayed home and attended the UNC campus in the city instead of another UNC campus 2 hours away. There are others who felt Community College first and a part time job was a better track for them than a 4 year college right off the gate.

  106. Sorry, I thought that would post with the title. “Parents Dedicate New College Safe Space In Honor Of Daughter Who Felt Weird In Class Once”

  107. “Sometime between when I was in HS and now, things changed from colleges wanting well-rounded students to wanting a well-rounded student body.” Nah. Even 30 years ago (back in the Dark Ages when I went to college), the top schools were all about the well-rounded student body, filled with kids who each had a passion for one or two things. Not quite sure when/how this got interpreted as each student needing to be well-rounded.

    Re: CIT: Our experience is consistent with the above. As I understand it, DD would be CIT this summer and next, which is basically paying a reduced rate to go to camp and doing counselor-type work under the supervision of actual counselors. She got assigned to the “Nature” station, which is *awesome*, because that was always her favorite place as a camper, and so now she spends the day helping out with the various animals and assisting with the various camper visits. Then, the summer before junior year, she is eligible to be an official counselor and actually get paid for it. They have a similar thing at Hebrew School — last year, she was doing training to be an aide and helping out in classes; this year, she gets to be an actual aide and get paid. It’s basically win-win for us — since she has a younger brother who needs to do camp and Hebrew School anyway, it gives her something useful to do and a little side money. (Which is also why she may not have a real “job” in HS, if she makes enough $$ from the aid and counselor work).

    BTW, I have been very happy with the CIT stuff at camp — they seem to be managing it well and doing a good job of catching the kids doing something right. DD came home one day royally frustrated and PO’d about a smart-aleck PITA little kid on the bus — her version of events makes it sound like he’s intentionally being rude and misbehaving to get the counselors’ attention, knowing they can’t do anything because he’s like 6 (one side of events = grain of salt, of course). So the next day, DD comes home all happy — they’d given her their version of the “good job” award for, basically, being patient and not throttling the little twerp. :-) She also got the same recognition (I forget the actual title) for staying at Nature and helping out during her break time. Which, you know, doesn’t really feel like work to her because she enjoys it, but I like them reinforcing that it’s a good thing to go above and beyond and people notice when you do more than the bare minimum.

  108. basically, being patient and not throttling the little twerp. :-).

    Ha! It also gives kids the understanding of what it means to be in a parental role….

  109. @Moxie – is their only job to do well at school and land a spot at a top college ?

    There is a lot of pressure to do well here, kids taking 4 and 5 AP classes etc… but most kids seem to get these benefits regardless of whether they are exceptional students. Most of the public school kids seem not to go to Ivies. A good chunk go to the University of Maryland and a lot of them seem to go to other big state schools – Penn State, University of Florida etc…

  110. For my older DD, some of the things she is doing as extra curricular are (1) high level GS award, which makes her eligible to apply for a local scholarsip – the number awarded each year depends upon the number of applicants and budget, (2) one of her clubs is academic and the coach is giving them opportunities to take some tests that colleges look for and is reinforces/provides another perspective on her coursework, (3) two of her activities are, in her words, stress relievers (I think recognizing this important) and the fact that she has been doing one for 6 years and the other for 4 years shows some longer term committment. While her summer academic camps are things to show on her HS resume, she does them more because they are fun.

    This is the kid who because of what she tested into as a freshman will likely be facing 4-5 AP classes as that is what will be “left” for her to take and meet graduation requirements. So, stress relieving extra curriculars become more important – IMO.

  111. “A good chunk go to the University of Maryland and a lot of them seem to go to other big state schools – Penn State, University of Florida etc…”

    Which is great, you know, but as Rhett will say, “God, all that worrying for nothing. The family could have spent all those Saturday mornings watching cartoons, reading the paper, or playing a round of golf instead of pushing Super Soccer Stars at four years old to cultivate ‘passion.'”

  112. @Milo – LOL but my one observation is that families are spending time together but it is at the soccer field instead of in their family rooms. Mom, Dad, siblings, grandma/grandpa, friends of the parents, the occasional uncle/aunt are in their sun sheltered chairs, coffees in hand, catching up/watching the game.

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