Inevitably, at some point each year there is this question of the moment for you and your 12-to-22-year-old: what should he or she do on summer vacation?

One option is a summer adventure.

What does that mean? It could mean a life-changing experience that is so different from the normal day-to-day world of the student that it opens his or her eyes to the larger world and how he or she fits into it. Practically speaking, it could also mean something meaty to be cited in a college, grad school or job application.

While many organizations provide summer adventures, one group has impressed me very much with their commitment to the global community and with their focus on developing a life-changing, and resume-enhancing, experience for the student. This non-profit organization, based on the campus of Warren Wilson College in the mountains of western North Carolina, is called 3D Life Adventures.

3D Life provides stimulating summer opportunities for college-bound students finishing the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. 3D’s programs not only give students an initial glimpse into life at a liberal arts college, they also help young people to better understand and appreciate the natural world and to make lasting connections with other talented students from all walks of life.

The creators of 3D Life Adventures say that summer programs can be very valuable in preparing high school students for college learning. Their premise is that school admissions or company human resources officers, sometimes forced to choose between students with nearly identical test scores, grades and glowing teacher letters of recommendation, may view a challenging and fulfilling summer experience as the critical edge for an applicant on the bubble.

According to Richard Blomgren, dean of admissions at Warren Wilson, “Serious summer programs are very valuable experiences for high-school students who are interested in attending college. 3D Life is one of the best summer programs I’ve seen for developing the skills, attitude and confidence needed for college.”

Thanks to the personal commitment of Jerry Casagrande, 3D Life’s founder and chairman, many of 3D’s students and alumni will be or are the first in their family to attend college, aspiring to or already attending such leading institutions as Cornell, Duke and UC-Berkley.

To learn more about 3D’s programs, please visit their Web site, which

Good luck with the summer plans for the student in your family.