Updated: Jun 14, 2020
As schools continue to close their doors, and expected dates of re-entry are pushed farther into the future, many high school students are beginning to fear the effects that the coronavirus will have on college admissions. After all, with several standardized tests being pushed back or completely cancelled, as the case has been with the SAT and ACT, the college admission cycle for the class of 2021 is sure to look different in many ways. But rather than see this as a time to freak out, students should take their home schooling as an opportunity. Yes, the extracurricular activities that students have been relying on to build up their common application have been cancelled, but there is much students can do in their free time that could adhere even more to their interests. Whether you’re a student who has become bored at home, or a student who is used to doing everything, there are several actions you can take at home that suit your interests.
Take Online Classes
Though your school may already be having you continue your normal classes online, you likely still have a lot of time on your hands from the absence of extracurriculars. This time can be filled by taking free online courses, whether they be Khan Academy’s secondary school learning curriculum, or college level courses that range in topic. Taking extra classes not only allows people to get prepared for college with a higher range of learning, but it also lets students pursue a class more tailored to their interests, which their school may not offer.
Resources for online learning:
Khan Academy: A free online learning platform offering courses and SAT prep for k-12 students. To help online learning during the coronavirus outbreak, Khan Academy has designed a model online curriculum for home-based education.
Google Learn from Home: YouTube has partnered with several other online learning communities to create a list of online learning videos and activities.
EdX: Offers thousands of free online college courses from top universities.
Harvard University Online Courses: Harvard University is offering dozens of free online courses to the public, more being offered due to the coronavirus outbreak.
PBIS Rewards: List of online learning resources categorized by interest
Open Learn: Offers hundreds of free courses varying in difficulty and categorized by interest
Varsity Tutors' Virtual School Day: Nearly 200 free, live K-12 classes available all day long intended to help parents fill their children’s day with enriched learning. Some popular classes are "Intro to Spanish for Kids", “Coolest Women in History”, “Java Programming Basics”, and “The Story of Your Favorite Fairy Tales”.
Learn a New Language
Similar to learning online courses, learning a new language is a skill that you may not be able to access in school, but now have the opportunity to develop. Not only does learning a new language look amazing on a resume, but it is also a way to explore a different culture. Not to mention, if you learn one of the SAT subject test languages, you can ace the test come fall.
Resources for learning a new language:
Duolingo: Free language learning app/website which offers the teaching of dozens of languages through speaking, reading, writing, and listening.
Live Lingua: Offers immersive lessons in hundreds of languages, and personally matches people to an online tutor.
BBC Languages: Offers several instructional courses in dozens of languages. Though this resource is now archived, there are still many instructional videos and documents available to the public.
**Several of the online resources listed above also offer language courses**
Apply for Scholarships and Competitions
While many in-person programs are being cancelled to protect the public, online scholarships and competitions are still at large. These range from artistic competitions to short story competitions, and there are thousands that students can choose from based on their interest. For instance, if you are scientist at heart, there are several scholarships asking participants to discuss a scientific innovation and why it interests them. If you are more artistically inclined, there are several scholarships that will pay you for a fantastic portfolio. You can apply for any of these money-awarding opportunities from the comfort of your own home.
We Are Teachers Writing Contests: Comprehensive list of writing contests for high school students.
New Pages: Consistently updated list of creative writing opportunities for high school students.
The Balance List of Art Contests: List of visual art contests for high school students.
Colleges of Distinction - Scholarships for Student Athletes: Provides list of scholarships for student athletes.
Unigo: Online scholarship platform where students can apply for several Unigo-based mini scholarships.
Scholarships: Large list of scholarships from several outside resources categorized by topic of interest.
Create Something! Design a Website, Code an App, or Write a Book
Though this seems to sound easier than it is, our modern technology-based world has made it extremely easy for people to create websites, their own books, or any kind of app demonstrating their talents. In the past, students have written and published collections of poetry, or have created blogs focusing purely on mountain biking or chocolate bar critiques. It is easy and fun to share your interests and hobbies with the world, whether it be as a platform or through prose.
NaNoWriMo: Encourages students to write a novel within a month. Though this takes place in November, offers many resources to spur someones creative writing ability.
GoodFirms Best App Builders: Gives a list of 8 free app creators to help determine the best software to build your own app.
Best10ECommerceBuilders: Gives a ranked list of the best free website builders, and gives detailed visual explanations.
*There are also several scholarships offering money for short stories and apps developed by students
Study for Standardized Tests
According to AP Central, AP tests will likely be shorter (from 2 hours 15 minutes to a mere 5 minutes), be at home, and be short answer/open response based (no multiple choice). And despite the SATs and ACTs being rescheduled for the summer, it is no secret that practice makes perfect when it comes to these exams. This means that standardized testing still has a looming presence in the lives of students. A regimen involving a mere hour a day every other day can significantly improve your score, making you look more attractive to colleges.
AP-CollegeBoard: The college board has put together free AP review sessions on the AP YouTube channel.
Enact Free SAT Prep Resources: Gives list of free SAT prep sites, including bot practice tests and online tutors.
Khan Academy: Offers coursework in the AP's, along with SAT prep
Magoosh - Best online Resources ACT: Gives a list of 16 free online ACT prep resources, including practice tests on the ACT website.
Prepscholar - Best ACT Prep Websites: Gives a list of online ACT prep sites alongside some advice about studying for the ACT.
Varsity Learning Tools: More than 250,000 free practice problems in over 200 subjects. Also available as mobile applications.