A seventh grader can do it

This post showed up on a local parent listserv last week (I inserted the “xxxx” portions to protect the poster’s identity).

Hi, my name is xxxx and I’m a 7th grader at xxxx. I take advanced math and love it. If you are looking for an affordable math tutor with a great attitude about math for your child I am able to tutor up to 6th grade and charge $15 an hour. Is transportation too hard? No worries. I’ll come to you! Please email me at xxxx if you have questions or are interested.

This is one of those seemingly simple things that can have a lot of value when the student is allowed to drive it.

This student is promoting themselves. They wrote the ad, they posted the ad, and they’ll be fielding the incoming inquiries. If it’s successful, they’ll end up managing a schedule, showing that they can fulfill their responsibilities, and answering to their paying customers. They’ll inevitably learn from this experience even if they don’t receive a single inquiry.

It might be tempting to discount those merits. After all, it’s not that hard to post an ad. And lots of kids babysit or do other part-time jobs. But one of the shifts I’ve witnessed since I started Collegewise almost twenty years ago is that too many high school kids will sit back and let their parents handle this sort of thing for them (I wrote about one who posted on the very same listserv). And my wife and I routinely get parents knocking on our door to raise money for their students’ cheerleading or softball or football teams, with their kids nowhere in sight.

Parents, the next time you’re tempted to step in and help with pitching or fundraising or any other endeavor that will ultimately benefit your student, step back and consider whether this is something they could and should do for themselves. Guiding and encouraging is one thing. But taking it over entirely is another.

It’s easy to come up with excuses for why your kids can’t take it on. But if a seventh grader can do it, your high schooler can, too.