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What To Do This Summer During COVID – 19

As students seek to learn more about colleges through on-campus visits, or the now more common ‘virtual college visit’, many will hear colleges refer to their holistic review process. While colleges will first consider the numbers; i.e., GPA and test scores, to indicate a student’s likelihood of success within their academic environment, colleges with a holistic review process look beyond the numbers and consider soft factors such as essays, letters of recommendation, interviews, and extracurricular activities in admission decisions. In selecting extracurriculars, students can make choices to pursue activities that suit your interests, fulfill your passions and potentially improve your likelihood of admission.

Summers offer more options for activities than those available during the school year, with its time and locational constraints. In these times of COVID-19 and having more opportunity to commit to on-line programs or opportunities within your community, students can use their time to demonstrate a commitment to a variety of opportunities, many of which may distinguish you from your peers.

Earlier this year, you may have determined which summer activities would best serve your interests through career exploration, community service, college coursework, or other options on college campuses. Then Covid-19 struck, forcing the cancellation of your plans. Now, there’s limited opportunity to participate in the customary summer activities of college-bound students, such as internships, community volunteering, mission trips, college courses on campus, and research programs.

Suggested Activities for This Summer

Traditional guidelines for summer activities don’t apply this year, so students will need to think outside the box and pursue other activities that fit their own commitments and passions, quite possibly from home. What’s important is not what you do this summer but how dedicated you are to it and the greater impact of good on their fellow man.

With the lack of true grades in the second semester this year and some schools using a pass/fail grading scale, Admissions Officials (AO’s) will take a stronger interest in the type of person you are as opposed to just the type of student you have been. Much can be gleaned from how you chose to handle these unprecedented times and the direction you chose to take when your original plans for sports, club leadership, summer programs, etc. were most likely sidelined.

Below are a few ideas for activities that can be conducted from home this summer with a computer and Internet link:

  • Conduct your own a research project on a topic pertaining to the pandemic; submit a report to entities to interested organizations,

  • Write articles, short stories, or poems; compile a collection,

  • Create a video documentary on a topic that inspires your passions; upload it to YouTube, Vimeo, and other platforms,

  • Tutor students via on-line platforms, with companies that offer tutoring year-round, or within your own neighborhood,

  • Assemble like-minded individuals around a cause you all support; create an organization and preside over online planning meetings,

  • Develop and distribute an online App that helps others,

  • Build a website to start your own online business,

  • Compose and record music; collect your works in an album,

  • Initiate and manage a fundraiser to assist those in your community who are in need as a result of Covid-19,

  • Establish a service that assists the elderly during the pandemic, and,

  • Create a business such as pressure washing, dog walking, lawn services,

  • Take college courses in your planned major by remote learning (see below).

Taking College Courses

One of the best ways that a rising senior can use the summer is to take a college course or two. This demonstrates passion for a particular subject, an ability to succeed in actual college work, and self-motivation. These are attributes that colleges consider to be predictors of success in college.

This same advice still holds for college-bound students this summer, but instead of taking courses on a campus, you’ll need to take them online. In prior years, online courses were viewed as a notch below on-campus classes in terms of their ability to impress colleges. That’s not the case in 2020. Moreover, online classes enable you to take courses at colleges anywhere in the country, so you’ll have a wider range of choices.

Many colleges will permit you to enroll in a course as a rising senior without having been admitted to the institution. You may or may not receive transferrable credit for the courses that you take. Check a college’s website or contact the admissions office to find learn about their policies for high school students.

Many colleges had online summer programs prior to this year, so the process of adding the previously on-campus courses to their existing platforms should be relatively smooth. Colleges that didn’t offer online courses may face challenges with the initial quality of instruction and tuition pricing for summer courses.

A distinction is made between “online courses” and “remote learning” at colleges. Online courses are designed specifically for instruction via the web. Many institutions have had years to develop high quality offerings. Remote learning, which is what many colleges relied on to complete spring semester this year, uses teleconferencing software to engage with students interactively. It emulates face-to-face instruction and is conducted live, although recordings of classes are made available. Neither method is demonstrably better, but they are notably different.

Examples of several of the many college course offerings available this summer are noted below:

  • University of Georgia — The summer semester at the UGA will be entirely online. The University System of Georgia has ordered all 26 of Georgia’s public colleges and universities to convert their summer programs to online technology.

  • Georgia Tech — Georgia Tech offers only remote learning classes this summer. All classes enable students to earn full credit. The Institute has adapted courses for remote learning this summer based on the best practices developed during remote learning classes this spring.

  • Yale University — The 2020 summer session will shift all New Haven on-campus courses to online classes. These be added to those ordinarily conducted as part of the regular summer online program.

  • University of Texas at Austin — UT is offering an expanded choice of courses for summer 2020 in response to the pandemic. All courses will be conducted online. The University is reducing undergraduate tuition for summer courses to 50% of the tuition rate for courses taught during the fall and spring semesters.

  • Emory University — Emory’s 2020 summer courses will not meet on campus. Many of the courses that were scheduled for on-campus instruction this summer will be offered online instead. On its website, Emory has posted a revised list of Emory College Online courses that now includes the planned on-campus courses that have been transitioned to the online program.

Your Online Presence

There’s one activity that we advise students to conduct during normal summers that can also be conducted during the pandemic. This is the improvement of your web presence. You should manage it with the understanding that colleges may search the web for information that wasn’t included in your application so as to gain insight into you as an individual. Use your web presence to showcase your distinctive qualities, credentials, experiences, and skills.

Be sure to use social media wisely. Either scrub Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms of potentially embarrassing entries or take the steps necessary to secure your privacy against unauthorized entry.

If you develop your own website, reserve your full name or a recognizable variation of it as your domain. Create an eye-catching logo and embed attractive imagery. Images may include your own photos as well as free images available on the Internet. Be sure to include a blog. Post to it periodically to reflect your ideas and observations in a light favorable to you as an applicant.

It’s also a good idea to set up a LinkedIn profile to post your résumé and highlight honors, awards, sports, associations, and clubs. Both your website and your LinkedIn page allow you to display more about your accomplishments and interests than you’re able to on your application with its space and word limitations.

Prepare for SAT or ACT

There has been much in the news lately about colleges that have joined the ranks of test-optional schools due to the pandemic. The University of California system announced recently that it will phase out the use of the tests entirely over the next five years. Many colleges across the country have followed with test-optional policies being touted for the next one, two or three years. While the SAT or ACT is not required by many institutions, even at schools at which submission of scores is optional, high test scores can improve your odds of acceptance.

Due to the test date cancellations this past spring, we advise that you use your time this summer to prepare even harder for the SAT or ACT than you were prior to the pandemic. The additional time should enable you to obtain your best possible score when you take or re-take the SAT or ACT in the fall.

Our Role As Your Guide

Even during these difficult times, Aspire College and Career Consulting assists high school students in successfully applying to the colleges that fit them best. Our diligence in staying ahead the rapidly evolving conditions wrought by the pandemic relieves you of the necessity of doing this yourself. We enable you to focus on your educational and career goals, which is the best use of your time.

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