As stay-at-home orders remain in place through summer break to limit the spread of COVID-19, many students are left wondering as to how they will continue their extracurriculars, or how they can bolster the resume. Without the ability to gather for sports practices, volunteering events, and summer programs, enhancing your activities list seems to be on hold. However, there are plenty of impressive extracurriculars to do from home. Keep in mind that college admissions officers understand that students may have less impressive resumes during this time, as the entire world is on lockdown; thus, accomplishing something this summer improves your likelihood of admission.
Here are some ways to help you stand out on your application while stuck at home:
- Submit something you wrote or an art piece for publication. Here are some online publishers that accept high school work.
- Start a blog. Blogging strengthens writing skills, generates income through advertisements (if you choose to monetize your site), and can change audiences’ lives for the better!
- Start a YouTube Channel. Videos teaching people how to perform tasks they have difficulty accessing while in lockdown (i.e., cutting hair, nail care) are now highly useful.
- Create a digital portfolio to promote your art. Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress are popular platforms that offer sleek website templates to get you started.
- Write a novel or compile your poems into a poetry book.
- Write a screenplay and produce a short film.
- Create a virtual book club.
- Learn about music production in Berklee’s Electronic Music Production and Sound Design Virtual Workshop.
- Take online classes. You can take courses from Ivy League universities for free on Coursera and edX.
- Study for the SAT/ACT.
- Borrow AP review books from friends to get a head start on next year’s AP classes.
- Learn a new language.
- Start drafting and revising your college list.
- Become an “Academic Interviewer”. Talk to students about their future academic and non-academic plans.
- Conduct experiments at home. You can experiment with editing bacterial DNA at The ODIN or explore citizenscience.gov’s database.
- Learn to code for free with Code Academy. If you already know how to code, assist nonprofits such as Code for Social Good by volunteering your time and programming expertise.
- Develop an app.
- Design websites for small businesses.
- Email professors and inquire about virtual research opportunities.
- Get Microsoft Office certified.
- Continue your school clubs and extracurriculars virtually. Edmodo, Zoom, and social media are just a few ways to keep in touch.
- Design a training handbook or website for your club.
- Members of the student government can plan virtual school functions.
- Recruit new members!
- Get involved in remote volunteer work. To find out how you can help in your community during the pandemic, check out Volunteer Match.
- Launch an online fundraiser.
- Deliver groceries for your neighbors.
- Make bag lunches for the homeless or donate meals to Meals on Wheels.
- Sew and donate face masks to healthcare workers.
- Start a community garden.
- Assist a blind or low-vision person as they go about their lives with Be My Eyes.
- Become a pen pal to someone in a nursing home.
- Organize a canned food drive for food banks in your area. Doing so will help prevent deepening the burdens of low-income households and support the growing needs of your community following the pandemic’s financial devastation.
- Phonebank for a political campaign.
- Start a change.org petition about an issue you’re passionate about.
- Raise money for a local candidate or offer to support them on social media.
- Interview a local politician.
- Register to vote.
- Propose a bill to your local congressman. Click here to find your congressional district and representative.
- Start an online business. Some simple ways to do so are by selling your handmade items on Etsy or by making an Instagram account to sell used clothes.
- Read my article “Earning Money When You’re 16 and Broke” for fun ideas on how to earn money.
- Explore online internships on Chegg.
- Tutor via Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype. The Nextdoor app is a reliable way to advertise your services and find students nearby to tutor.
- Participate in Columbia University’s online summer entrepreneurship program.
- Begin investing in the stock market. I suggest asking your parents about opening a Roth IRA account. Contributing to a Roth IRA is best when you’re young because you don’t get an upfront tax break, and neither your contributions nor earnings are taxed.
NOTE: If you were selected for an esteemed program that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, describe the activity on your college application.