Covid-Era College Prep

Covid-Era College Prep

Normally, there are many ways for high school students to bolster their resumes and prepare for college application season: playing team sports, being active in school clubs, working in after-school jobs or summer internships, attending college fairs and touring campuses, to name a few. During the current pandemic, however, most of these traditional opportunities have vanished. What’s a teen to do?

Right now, focusing on the priorities of staying healthy, keeping up with coursework and earning solid grades already constitutes a full plate for many students, especially if they have additional responsibilities at home. But for those who wish to do more, there are various college prep possibilities even while sheltering in place. Engaging in productive activities may also enhance teens’ well-being. Here are some suggestions to get started:


* BookShare Is designed to help people with reading disabilities. If you are 15 or older, you can volunteer to edit, read a description or scan and proofread documents.
* Be My Eyes is a free app connecting blind and low-vision people with sighted individuals. As a volunteer, you will have the ability to help people with disabilities manage daily challenges through live video calls.
* Amnesty Decoders is an innovative way for volunteers worldwide to use their computers or smartphones to help researchers sift through critical information. Join a global network of volunteers helping locate and expose human rights violations.
* The Zooniverse provides an opportunity for anyone to help out with important research. Simply select a project in an area that interests you – such as space, nature, or the arts – and get started. You could be part of a new discovery!

For more ideas, see 25 Volunteer Jobs to Do From Home .

Find colleges that you’re a good match for, and let colleges know that you’re eager to attend. Many, but not all, colleges consider this “demonstrated interest” factor in admissions.

* Attend virtual college fairs, tours and information sessions. Make sure to
register if possible.
* Strive Scan Virtual College Exploration Week is one example of a virtual college fair, with over 300 colleges participating.
* Find out who the admissions counselor or representative is for your region. Call or email the rep to learn more about the college and admissions process. Have questions written down in advance.
* Research the colleges on your list through their websites or social media.
This will prepare you for a possible interview and for supplemental essays that ask “Why are you applying to our college?” The more you know about a college, the better you will be at convincing them that you’re the right candidate for admission.
* If there are optional interviews available, find out the process for scheduling and try to line one up early before the slots fill up.

For more ideas, watch the video, 10 Tips for Communicating With Colleges.

Create something.

* Write something about the pandemic – poetry, fiction or nonfiction – and send it to one of the publications seeking new work via Submittable. Some of these organizations welcome visual art submissions as well.
* Write an essay on something important to you and submit it as an “op-ed” to a newspaper. The OpEd Project has tips on how to write these pieces and an extensive list of places to submit them. Or see 10 Journals Where You Can Get Published in High School.
* Make crafts for your own enjoyment, or learn to sew masks and save lives.

Develop STEM expertise.

* Conduct science experiments at home. Get started with ideas from Science

* Learn a computer programming language. These days, coding skills can be
just as valuable as foreign language proficiency. There are many free courses via platforms such as Khan Academy, Coursera, and EdX.
* Find many more ideas at STEM Fun for High School Kids.

Line up summer plans.

* Learn data science skills and create a research project in the all-virtual
Summer STEM Institute.
* Learn artificial intelligence (AI) concepts and build a project in small groups taught by graduate students through AI Scholars Live Online.
* Find many more ideas at TeenLife.


* Learn a new language using apps such as DuoLingo, Babbel or Pimsleur.
* Learn a new subject by taking a free class at Open Culture, Future Learn orCoursera.

We recommend that students choose a small number of activities that align with their skills and interests. Many of these options will not only help them get through a trying time and enhance their college prospects, but also provide benefits to society.

Scott S. Garbini, M.Ed., founder of Garbini Education and Career Consulting LLC, can be reached at You can also like Garbini Education on Facebook and connect with Scott on LinkedIn.

Eric Endlich, Ph.D., founder of Top College Consultants ®, can be reached at . You can also like Top College Consultants on Facebook and connect with Eric on LinkedIn.

Share now: