More students preparing to apply to colleges are planning summer activities that will be fodder for their personal statement. On the Common Application, the 250-word essay asks students to describe "a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you." Some say the push for early specialization and mastery among students is robbing them of some of the freedoms of childhood, including the ability to take on simpler summer jobs, such as working as a life guard or waiting tables.

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