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Extracurricular activities that any high schooler can do from home

You can still make valuable progress on your college profile, even if you’re stuck at home. 

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By NOELLE COMPTON

In only a matter of days, governments across the world have taken major precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, like shutting down schools and libraries. Self-quarantine is critical to preventing the spread of illness. However, there is no denying that it’s inconvenient, especially for a high-school student. With sporting events and social gatherings out of the question for the foreseeable future, it may feel like students are stagnating, unable to make progress on their college application profile. However, there are many extracurricular activities that any high schooler can do from home.

The Common App does not ask about whether your club took place in or outside of school. An online club is just as useful as an in-person club.

Start an online club

Depending on their Angle, students should already be thinking of ways to generate leadership experience to support their college goals. Why not take that interest and transform it into an online club? 

Here’s a fun fact: When submit your Common Application, college do not ask about whether your club took place in or outside of school. An online club is just as useful as an in-person club, provided you have a way to prove that it was active. There are some great platforms that allow students to connect with others for this very purpose. Edmodo and Facebook are both platforms that allow users to build a private group to generate discussions, post assignments, and connect with like-minded peers around the world. 

In order to make your own online club, here’s what you need: 1) A club name and a clear mission 2) A platform 3) Some friends to assume officer roles to members, which will legitimize your organization and decision making structure. 

A word of advice: While anime and video game clubs are fun, this is a fantastic opportunity to do something academic. Think social entrepreneurship club, computational biology club, or a literary magazine.

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Do an independent research project

If you are a STEM-minded student, then the programs you will be applying to love students who take on independent research. Did you know that you can buy laboratory-grade testing kits online? Work with a parent or mentor to think of a research question, order materials, and run a trial. Then, write a paper that outlines your question, process, and results, like a very detailed lab write up that you’d do at school.

For this project, try to think of unique research questions to demonstrate your inquisitive nature. You can buy products like a home CRISPR kit and adjust variables of your choice. Alternatively, you can try to reproduce the findings of another laboratory experiment (you might be surprised to find that it’s harder than it sounds!). Once you have your independent research paper, you can submit it to contests, try to have it published, or attach it as part of your college application.

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Try to get published

If you are a literary minded student and you enjoy writing, then you are in luck. There are loads of publications out there who accept stories and poems from high schoolers. If you are considering an English, journalism, or creative writing program, then it looks really good on your applications to have a handful of publications. Here’s a list of publications that definitely take high school work. 

This advice is also helpful for artists of any medium. Publications are always looking for paintings, drawings, digital media, or sculptures to feature on their pages. Do you have pieces ready to go? Scan them into your computer and use Submittable to search for free places to submit them.

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Start a blog

Academic blogs are great because they serve as documentation of your interest. In other words, if you are trying to make the case on your college applications that you have always been interested in blockchain technology, then it is helpful to offer a years-long collection of articles you have written on the subject. 

An easy way to start a blog is this: Use WordPress to set up the template and give your blog a clear title. Each week, read an academic article about the topic you have chosen and write a short article that summarizes the information (use correct citations though, don’t plagiarize!), offers your opinion, and concludes with possible future implications. This process is also a great step to honing your Admissions Angle. If you spend six months on a marine biology blog and you’re bored to death by the end of it, awesome! Now you know that marine biology is not for you.

Take online courses

Coursera, EdX, FutureLearn, and many other platforms offer incredible opportunities to learn about pretty much anything you want from some of the best professors at highly respected universities. And the best part? It’s free! Consider the subjects that you might be interested in majoring in at college and sign up for classes on those subjects. You can see if the subject is right for you and use it as a jumping off point for your blog, club, or research. 

 

It’s lame to be stuck at home, but with the Internet, you still have the whole world at your fingertips. Take this opportunity to learn new things, demonstrate some leadership, and get involved with others who share your passion. If you do this, who knows? You might be starting one of your college essays with this: “The COVID-19 outbreak is to thank for my interest in…”

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