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10 Virtual Extracurriculars to Impress Colleges

With thousands of students stuck at home because of the pandemic, it’s a perfect opportunity to learn new skills, relax, and build your resume! For me, school has taken up significantly less time than it used to, so I’ve taken the time to pursue activities that I never would have had the time to do before. While the pandemic has drastically changed my education and social life, it’s a good time to take advantage of the opportunity and explore things I’ve always wanted to do, like starting this blog! As Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, said about missed opportunities, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” However, don’t feel pressured to be productive during quarantine! Our individual experience with the pandemic has been different, so here are just some things to do to take advantage of the opportunity if you feel bored out of your mind during quarantine!

1. Take online classes outside of school and learn new skills

When my mom showed me a list of free online college classes I could take on Coursera, I was extremely excited and jumped at the opportunity right away. The online resources I’ve used have done more than just help me learn, I’ve also discovered my interests by taking online college classes. At first, I had signed up for three courses on Coursera, including a marketing course, a course on American law, and a medical course. While all of them were definitely amazing courses, I quickly realized that I enjoyed the medical course the most, so I started exploring many other medical courses, which has really helped me learn more about medicine and biotechnology! Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to a biotechnologist, and I realized that I could understand the processes in biotechnology that we discussed, which I never would’ve been able to understand if it weren’t for those online classes.

2. Start an initiative

With over 30 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide as of the writing of this post, there’s no doubt that the pandemic has tragically impacted many individuals, including the elderly, low-income families, students, and those vulnerable to catching the virus. In fact, around 44% of Americans say that the pandemic has had a major impact on their lives, so there are many people who are in need during these difficult times. Starting or participating in an initiative that helps combat the issues faced by many people worldwide or in your community, whether that’s by tutoring low-income children or raising money for local food banks, can help make a difference for those who may be struggling during this time. However, don’t just start an initiative or a nonprofit for the sake of improving your resume. This can take away from actual organizations that rely on donations from the community or federal grants, so make sure to look for existing organizations that have the same core values or student initiatives that may have similar ideas!

3. Start a blog or a YouTube channel

When I was younger, I wanted to start a hamster blog or a hamster YouTube channel since I was obsessed with hamsters, which I did end up doing, but I forgot about it after a few months. However, I still wanted to blog or have a YouTube channel, but I never had the time to do so. One day, when quarantine first started, I stumbled upon a medical blog started by a high school student. I never thought that it was possible for a high school student to start a blog about medicine and science, so finding that blog really inspired me to start my blog, and since then, I’ve really enjoyed blogging, from writing posts to marketing. If you’re reading this right now, thank you for supporting my blog! I encourage you to pursue something you’ve always wanted to do, whether that’s blogging, filming, or writing a book, especially if you’re stuck at home like me with more time on your hands!

4. Pursue an online internship or online volunteering

Since many companies can’t operate as usual anymore, some internship opportunities will be open to students, no matter where they live. LinkedIn and Indeed are good resources for finding internships, but if you can’t find any available, try reaching out to family friends, teachers, or local businesses to see if there are any internship positions available. Social media, marketing, and programming internships may be particularly available, as those positions are easier to make virtual. In addition, online volunteering positions are now available, and websites such as UN Volunteers provide online volunteer opportunities in topics such as administration, art and design, translations, COVID-19 response, and more. Local governments may also offer online volunteer opportunities, so check your city’s website for volunteer programs that they may have!

5. Start a business

If you enjoy making items or designing items, selling on online platforms such as Etsy or eBay can help you share your items and possibly make a bit of money! It’s also a good opportunity to learn important marketing, strategic-thinking, and communication skills by managing an online business. However, if you’re not a crafty person, you can still start a business by providing online services such as tutoring lessons or essay editing! These lessons can be anything, from painting lessons to online music classes, and it’s a great experience especially if you’re a student who’s interested in marketing, business, or advertising.

6. Do research or science experiments

During an age of online shopping, even lab equipment and research essentials can be purchased online. Amazon and eBay are great places to buy new or second-hand lab equipment, and some online equipment retailers, such as Carolina Biological or Bio-World, also sell lab equipment and supplies. However, some online retailers won’t sell directly to the public, so shop around to find lab equipment that you can buy. Setting up a home lab can be pricey though, so make sure to keep that in mind before deciding on a science experiment. There are other low-cost experiments that don’t require a laboratory, especially in programming or research, so if you’re interested in science but don’t have the funds to set up a laboratory, Foldit is a protein-folding game designed by the University of Washington to help everyone contribute to science through the convenience of the internet! If you’re interested in seeing specific molecules in 3D, PyMOL is a free and open-source tool used to help visualize molecular structures, such as proteins, nucleic acids, and other molecules.

7. Use creativity to help others

If you enjoy sewing, now is a good time to use your talent to help others. With a shortage of face masks and N95 Respirators, frontline workers and people that are highly susceptible to COVID-19 are in need of face masks. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends wearing cloth face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19, so while the cloth face masks may not be used for healthcare workers that are in direct contact with patients, making cloth face masks leaves surgical masks and N95 Respirators for healthcare workers, who are in close proximity to patients with the virus. Some organizations, such as Masks Now, Operation Masks, local hospitals, universities, governments, and more are accepting cloth face masks made by the public, but make sure to follow the guidelines set by each organization. If you don’t know how to sew, you can still paint, draw, or make music to brighten someone’s day, and there are many different ways to help others. For example, food donations are also in demand, so you could use your creative talents to raise money to provide food for healthcare workers and low-income communities!

Khan Academy provides free full-length SAT practice tests for students!

8. Practice for standardized testing

For many students in high school, it’s time for standardized testing, such as the SATs, ACTs, or AP exams. While many of these exams have been cancelled due to the pandemic, it’s still useful to practice, especially if you’re currently a sophomore or a junior and the decision to cancel standardized tests is uncertain. There are many free online SAT practice resources, such as Khan Academy Official SAT Practice, which features full length practice tests made in partnership with College Board, and The Princeton Review, which provides free SAT practice tests and a performance report. While some libraries may be closed due to the pandemic, borrowing practice books are a great way of studying for standardized tests for a low cost if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars buying books for the SAT.

9. Prepare for the future or college

Choosing which colleges or careers you want can be a difficult decision, so to make that process easier, you can start preparing for the future by researching schools, majors, and careers. Since colleges in the United States can often be pricey, it’s important to find the perfect school for you so you won’t regret your decision. Make sure to consider factors such as academics, social events, and financial costs. While it might seem like freshman or sophomore year is too early to start thinking about the future, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and gain a better understanding of college and career choices, so you won’t be frantically applying to as many colleges as possible when senior year rolls around. Tools such as Naviance, CollegeVine, and the Bureau for Labor Statistics Career Exploration can help students explore different careers, schools, and create a list of colleges to apply to.

10. Relax and exercise

In the end, quarantine isn’t a productivity contest, so the best thing you can do for your future is to keep yourself healthy. This is more important than college, testing, or anything else, so make sure to relax and exercise! If you don’t know how to exercise indoors, YouTube has lots of indoor exercise tutorials to help guide your workout. Eating healthy and sleeping are also important, so remember to keep healthy and take care of your mental health!

Even though the pandemic has closed the doors on many opportunities, there are so many other opportunities for you to explore while you’re stuck indoors. It’s also a great time for you to prepare for the future and build your resume, so spending time in quarantine can be much more than extreme boredom!

Posted in College Life

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