Gaining The Competitive Edge

Gaining The Competitive Edge How Wellington Students Can Sow The Seeds Of Success Over The Summer

Story by Jaime Joshi Elder |  Photos by Matt De Santa

Living in South Florida means no shortage of summer activities for high school students. Beating the heat by spending time on the water or visiting one of the state’s numerous theme parks provide a great chance to unwind, but summertime can also mean opportunity for high school students seeking to gain a competitive edge and secure acceptance to their dream college.

“Colleges not only want to see that a student is committed to extracurriculars throughout the school year, but they also look for evidence that students are developing their interests and stretching themselves during the summer, as well,” said Dr. Sapneil Parikh, principal and founder of Sapneil Tutoring.

An ardent believer in lifelong learning, Parikh graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a degree in finance and business administration. He earned his first master’s degree in public health from Florida International University and a second master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Touro College. He then went on to earn his dental degree from the LECOM School of Dental Medicine and completed a two-year general practice residency specializing in oral medicine and surgery from East Carolina University and Cornell University.

Parikh is also fluent in reading, writing and speaking Spanish.

If there is one thing that Parikh understands, it’s education, and he knows that the time spent outside of the classroom is just as important as the time students spend in the classroom.

“High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors might want to introduce an advanced class using FLVS or take courses through Coursera or edX,” he suggested. “In addition to offering the chance to earn professional certificates, these sites offer courses in many subjects from data science to American poetry. Students can participate in real time or watch past lectures from professors at schools like Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale.”

Incoming sophomores and juniors should start thinking about the SAT and ACT and how to best prepare for success.

Research shows that students who participate in tutoring not only build a foundation for successful work habits that will guide them through their educational journey, but they also have a distinct academic advantage over their non-tutored peers.

A study conducted by San Bernardino Valley College showed that students who received one-on-one tutoring saw an average increase of 12 percent in their standardized test scores and outperformed non-tutored students in STEM courses such as biology, computer science, chemistry and math.

“Students in 10th grade may want to introduce themselves to SAT assessments to increase their comfort with the process of preparing for standardized exams,” Parikh said. “The SAT is going digital in 2024, and it would be a good idea for students to familiarize themselves with the changes for that. The test will be shorter, there will be two sections instead of four, and it is vital to note that students will not be able to see their battery percentage while in the digital testing app, and that test centers are not obligated to provide power to every student. Prepare accordingly and make sure your device is fully charged in advance. Preparation on all fronts.”

Academics aren’t the only avenues worth pursuing. Parikh strongly advocates that students diversify and look to community service, research, and business or entrepreneurship to flesh out their applications.

“Colleges look for evidence that students are developing their interests and stretching themselves during the summer,” he said. “Whether a student wants to explore a new activity or build on a current interest, there are so many options available.”

Jobs, internships and volunteer work serve as a chance to stand out as well as leave an indelible impression.

Getting a summer job or internship shows a level of maturity and responsibility as well as the willingness to be part of a team, while community service not only showcases a passion for a cause and a sense of civic duty, but also serves as a chance to grow personally, increase self-confidence and network with like-minded individuals.

For students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, Parikh recommended contributing to a research project.

In addition to consulting with the school’s guidance counselor to see what opportunities are available, students should also reach out to local labs, universities and hospitals to see who is seeking student support.

“Participation in research projects can help advance chances for competitive colleges and universities,” Parikh said. “Research provides focus and showcases that the student is trying to be part of the problem-solving process. Who knows? You may even be the first or second author on a publication!”

While Parikh focuses heavily on academics, he is quick to note that learning is a lifelong process that is continually occurring. He encourages students to look beyond the borders of their comfort zone and travel if possible.

“In addition to being a great way to relax and detach, traveling with family and friends can help you become more well-rounded as an individual and can even serve you academically depending on where you go,” he said.

Summer is just around the corner, and with a little planning and balance, high school students can have it all — enjoying some well-deserved time off and preparing for the bright future ahead.

Learn more about Sapneil Tutoring at