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What a College Counselor Encourages Her Own Daughter to Do This Summer

Dear Sophie,

I can't believe the school year is almost done. I am so incredibly proud of what you did this year as a sophomore. I know summer plans are looming and you feel like you want to do something impactful. I understand. I want that for you as well. But you don't need to save the world this summer. You just need to save a bit of your teenage life. You won't get these years back and colleges will value what you do this summer if you value it.

I love the fact that you are hoping to be an assistant swim coach again. The little kids on the summer swim team love you, including your nine-year old sister who thinks it is the coolest thing that her big sister is "Coach Sophie." I know it doesn't pay anything, but that doesn't matter. It's a job that you show up to every morning and you are making an impact on dozens of young swimmers who look up to you. Swimming is a tough sport, as you know better than anyone. But the friendships and "personal bests" made during the summer swim season are what summer is all about.  
After swim practice every day, I am 100% supportive of you carving out "me time" to write. You don't need to go to some fancy writing program and live in college dorms to practice your craft. In fact, the discipline necessary to write every single day on your own is far more impressive to me and every single admissions officer you will encounter. I don't care if nothing gets published or wins an award from this summer's writing pursuit. I only care that you write. You were born to write. It is like brushing your teeth or going to swim practice every day. Commit to it daily and you will experience fulfillment in ways you never expected. A woman's voice and ideas are meant to be written down, cherished, and read.
Speaking of women, your dear old mom has some of her own writing she needs to do. And right now I have no childcare lined up for your siblings this summer. If nothing arises, I'll need you to take on the most important job you will ever have: being Max and Dotsie Bea's caretaker. It is not glamorous, but you and I know that we grow the most when we take care of others. For decades, "family responsibilities" were rarely captured on a student's activities list. Now more than ever, students are embracing these opportunities and are proud to list them in their applications. Admissions officers love this type of "activity" more than anyone knows. But I know... 
And most of all, I want you to hang out with your friends as much as you can. Our home is always open to them. Weekend and late night hangouts at our house are something I will always say "yes" to. You need that time with your girls. Your hometown friends give you life when you need it most. Never turn your back on them. They will be your friends forever.
I know being my daughter is not easy. You hear what other students are doing. And you want to do something extraordinary this summer. Heck, you want to do something extraordinary every season of every year. You are already doing that by embracing who you are and your Soundbite. I love you Sophie-much!



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