How to Utilize Your Summer While Staying at Home to Improve Your College Admission Chances
Hello, high schoolers, you all have heard college counselors and mentors say that summertime is an important time of the year, and colleges want to know what you have been doing during that period. But with COVID-19 and lockdown, you must be wondering what can we do to improve college admission chances if we can’t even leave our homes.
First and foremost, I hope you understand that given the situation you are in the safest environment- your home. But you don’t have to feel as if you are stuck at home and get frustrated and restless. Well, you will be surprised that there is still so much one can do to make the most of your summer. It might sound crazy but let’s put on our creative hats and explore our options.
Online Academic Classes
Take an online class on your related field of major or your interest.
Enroll yourself in an online educational platform like Coursera or edX and take a few courses which might help you in your related field. They have courses in topics like arts and humanities, business, computer science, data science, health, math, personal development, and many more to choose from.
While some courses are free of cost a few others are verified certificates from US Colleges. For example, you could study Calculus from UPenn and get a certificate of completion which adds value to your profile. Some other online learning platforms are Khan Academy and Udemy. Read Best Free Online Courses for High School Students to Improve College Admission Chances.
You can also take online summer classes directly from US colleges by registering on their website. This is a good time to show demonstrated intent. Let’s say for example you want to study at UC Berkeley, take an online summer class there as it shows your interest in that college and looks good on your application.
Existing School Clubs/Activities
Make sure you continue with your current clubs or activities virtually via Zoom, Skype, or other online video platforms.
Find creative ways of keeping the club going and show leadership wherever needed.
Learn a New Skill
If you always wanted to learn a new craft like photography, painting, singing, coding, animation cooking, or anything else, this is a good time to pursue it. On YouTube, one can practically learn anything from the comfort of your own room.
You can also connect with a native language speaker and learn a new language virtually. If you ever wanted to learn French, German, Spanish or any other language now is a good time. Read how foreign languages can help you to stand out in the competition.
Market Your Old Skill through Blogs and Videos
If you have a skill or talent like singing, cooking, coding or writing, etc share it with others and start your own YouTube channel. Create content in a field of your interest and connect with the world through your blogs, podcast, YouTube channel, or Facebook Live or any other social media channels.
Make sure the content is meaningful and you are able to connect with the world through this medium. Instead of just recording your songs you could share some information about different kinds of music.
The idea is to create rich content that will be helpful to others. If you are good at storytelling, self-publish a book on short stories and dedicate the book to someone you love and how they inspired you.
Need help with profile building, college admissions, or career roadmap? Book a 30/60-minute session (Phone, Skype, Hangouts, or WhatsApp) with Ruchi.
Polish Your Entrepreneurial Skills
If you are in Grade 8-10 connect with your school, local community, or friends and start a new online club. This is a great way to demonstrate leadership and your ability to take initiative. Once you start something make sure you continue the club for a few years. If you enjoy coding, use your summertime to build an app. Come up with an idea that would be useful and make an app and publish it.
A high school senior from Los Angeles developed a mobile app to connect students with their teachers. The app allowed teachers to send homework and study reminders to students with lower-than-average GPAs. Another student made an app iParkedHere to help drivers find their parked cars.
Colleges understand that students were in lockdown and couldn’t go out for their classes, internships, etc. but don’t restrict yourself. Impress them with your out-of-the-box thinking.
Online Summer Programs
Quite a few summer programs are now available in online mode. Here are the top 7 online summer programs for high school students in 2020:
Flame Summer Immersion Program – The FLAME University Summer Immersion Program (FU-SIP) for high school students will be held online this year. The program offers high school students an opportunity to experience liberal education by strengthening their skills through a mix of exciting academic and non-academic courses which provides a basis for a strong foundation to succeed in college and beyond. Applicants must be 10th, 11th, or 12th-grade high school students. The first batch will start from May 18 and the second batch is supposed to be held in June/July. Learn more.
SHRM Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Summer Program 2021 – info coming soon.
Write a Research Paper
Let’s say you are interested in autonomous driving and want to find ways of how self-driving cars can improve the safety of human life and reduce accidents and protect the environment.
You would like to study Engineering, Computer Science, or Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, USA. Explore their website at www.umich.edu and see which professors are teaching the subject. Connect with them and show your interest in the related field and write a research paper and publish it.
If you look outside with an open mind there is so much one can do to help others by just sitting in your room. Don’t restrict yourself to these but some ideas are –
Online tuition for students in elementary or middle school – Teach subjects you like to other kids who need help. Connect with your community and school and spread the word that you are giving free tuitions in English, math, or science or any other subject which is your strength.
Connect with your local NGOs and ask them if they want someone to work on their website, Facebook page, or other social media platforms. Raise funds by starting a Go Fund Me page or come up with other creative ideas to raise funds. One can plan a 5K walk. Ask your friends to donate $10 for walking 5K at home within a week. As most families are in lockdown and spend some time cleaning their homes, ask them if they have any old pair of shoes or caps and ask them to not throw it away. Make a list of all the families who want to donate and once the lockdown is over, collect them and donate it to orphan homes or kids on the street.
Help your seniors in your community – Seniors feel at a loss during this time as they can’t leave their homes and don’t know what to do with all their time. Start an online class teaching them features they can use on their phones, iPad or computers as not all are very tech-savvy. Show them how to use filters on their phones while taking fun photographs of their families.
There is no such thing as a crazy idea, it’s how committed you are to it and what you put into it. Colleges like to see how unique, innovative, and creative you can be. Why? Because they want to know that when you come to their college what will you do to make it a better place.
Apart from extracurricular activities, it would be also wise to get started with the outlines for your Common App essays and supplemental essays. The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2020-2021. Take this time to read sample essays to see how you would like to format your Common App essay. Working ahead like this only saves you time in the long run. Read more about how to continue your college admissions plans from home.
If you had applied for any competitive camp or class and got accepted but it got cancelled due to COVID-19, make sure you mention it in your college application form.
Featured Image Source: Medium
Author: Ruchi Saran
Ruchi specializes in counseling students from Grade 8 – 12 for College Admissions to the US. She has spent her last 8 years understanding the college admissions process and firmly believes that the key is to start early. Having lived both in India and the US in the last 25 years, she understands the education system very well in both places.
She has a BA in Psychology and an Associate Degree in Interior Design, Graphic Design, and Child Education and has worked with kids ranging from 5-18 years. She was instrumental in setting up the GEMS Modern Academy School in Gurgaon. She strongly believes in giving back to the community and is an active volunteer in a couple of NGOs. She is also on the board for Udayan Care USA.
Currently, she is residing in California, USA with her husband and 2 sons. One is a graduate from UC Berkeley and the other has just joined UC Berkeley as a freshman.
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