High GPA’s and test scores are the norm for students who apply to selective and highly selective colleges. For this reason, colleges also include “soft” factors such as essays, letters of recommendation, interviews, and extracurricular activities as factors in admission decisions. In selecting your extracurriculars, you have the opportunity to pursue activities that suit your interests and improve your likelihood of admission.
Summers offer more options for activities than those available during the school year, with its time and locational constraints. You can use your summers more freely to demonstrate your commitment to what you’ve chosen as your “hook” — the attribute that distinguishes you from your peers.
Earlier this year, you may have determined which summer activities would best enhance your hook and improve your case for admission. Then Covid-19 struck, forcing the cancellation of your plans. Now, there’s little opportunity to participate in the customary summer activities of college-bound students, such as internships, community volunteering, mission trips, college courses, and research programs.
Suggested Activities for This Summer
Traditional guidelines for summer activities don’t apply this year, so you need not seek to substitute activities that demonstrate your commitment to your hook. What’s important is not what you do this summer but how dedicated you are to it.
Below are a few ideas for activities that can be conducted from a student’s home with a computer and Internet link:
- Conduct a research project on a topic that relates to the pandemic; submit a report to interested parties such as health care 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 as appropriate,
- 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, preferably one that relates to your hook,
- Compose and record music; collect your works in an album,
- Initiate a fundraiser to assist those in need as a result of Covid-19, and,
- Establish a service that assists the elderly during the pandemic.
Your Online Presence
There’s one activity that we advise students to conduct during normal summers that you can conduct during the pandemic. This is the improvement of your web presence. You should have an effective web presence because many AO’s search the web for information on applicants that wasn’t part of their application package. Through your web presence, you can showcase your distinctive qualities, credentials, experiences, and skills. This gives AO’s more insight into you as a person.
Be sure to use social media wisely. Scrub Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms of potentially embarrassing entries or take the necessary steps to secure your privacy from unauthorized entry.
If you develop your own website, reserve your full name or a recognizable variation of it as your domain. On your website, 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 can on your application due to 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. However, what concerns you now is that either the SAT or the ACT is still required by most colleges. Even at schools for which it’s optional, your submission of high test scores improves your odds of acceptance.
We advise that use your down time this summer to prepare even harder for the SAT or ACT than you were prior to the shutdown. The additional time should enable you to obtain your best possible score when you take or re-take the test.
Our Role As Your Guide
Even during these difficult times, Louis Educational 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 this burden. We enable you to focus on your educational and career goals.