Many of you are wondering what this summer will look like. And the answer is that we don’t really know. Each day I hear about yet another summer program that has been canceled.
So, what can you do if your original plans have fallen through?
First, remember, this is a historic time. It is incredibly stressful for everyone involved. Your parents may be unemployed or trying to work from home. You may be trying to prepare for an online AP exam without knowing what it will look like. You may be helping your younger siblings with their homework. And sadly, someone close to you may be sick.
We are all in this together, but we are all experiencing it differently.
The most important thing to think about from a college application perspective is what colleges are really looking for when they review your activities. They are looking for students who demonstrate character traits like leadership, intellectual curiosity, empathy, grit, resilience, creativity, and kindness. I can’t count the number of times in the past year that I have heard a college admission representative say that they are looking for kind students. As an example, Bucknell University in Central Pennsylvania came up with this handy chart:
Which brings me back to what can you do this summer, if all your plans have fallen through?
1. Start at home. During this stressful time, it is more important than ever for you to be a good roommate in your own home. We are all getting on each other’s nerves. But you can take some stress off your parents by:
- Doing your own laundry (this is an excellent thing to learn before you go off to college anyway!).
- Cooking dinner twice a week (this can include planning the menu, buying the groceries, preparing the food and cleaning up afterward.
- Cleaning the bathroom, walking the dog, taking out the trash – you get the idea. All those little things that need to be done. You won’t believe how much stress it can take off your parents if you pitch in on your own.
- If you have younger siblings, help them with their homework. Or volunteer to help homeschool the kids next door (from a safe distance, of course!).
- Consider being a nanny this summer. As we slowly come out of quarantine there will be families who need help with childcare. But many summer camps have been canceled and parents are scrambling to find ways to entertain their kids while they work.
- Offer to pick up groceries or do a drug store run for your elderly neighbor or a grandparent.
- Teach them how to communicate via FaceTime, What’s App, Zoom, etc. It is nice to talk on the phone but it is even better if you can see the other person.
- If you are cooking dinner for your family, make extra and take it to your neighbor down the block. Set up a schedule to do this on a regular basis.
- The Seattle Times had an article about Little Food Pantries (similar to the Little Free Libraries that dot our neighborhoods): https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/small-but-meaningful-little-free-pantries-spread-in-seattle-to-fight-food-insecurity-due-to-coronavirus/
- You could build a Little Food Pantry and then solicit donations, keeping an eye on it to make sure it stays stocked.
Students often wonder what they can include in the activities section of their college applications. The activities do not need to be flashy. Sometimes the quiet, thoughtful activities are the ones that can stand out the most. And yes, you can absolutely include these types of things in your applications. This is a time when we each need to look around and figure out what we can do to help our families and our communities. Colleges understand that the fancy internship that you were planning to do has been called off. They will be looking to see what you did instead. And small, quiet things can count for a lot!
Next up: Suggestions on online classes and volunteer activities that you can do this summer...