With travel restrictions of varying severities in place for almost a year now, many students are viewing this summer with trepidation and uncertainty. A question we hear often these days is – “How can I make the most of this summer, even if I’m spending the entire summer at home?”
While it’s perfectly natural to feel anxious in these uncertain times, the surprising answer is that travel restrictions have not reduced the number of options you have; they’ve just shifted them to an online medium.
Let’s explore some of the online options you have to make this your most productive summer yet!
1. Massive open online courses (MOOC)
Massive open online courses (also called MOOCs) are one of the best ways to up-skill yourself, and gain deeper insights into an intended major or area of interest. MOOC platforms such as Coursera, edX, Udemy, and Udacity have attracted several students across the globe amidst the pandemic. The pandemic also witnessed a dramatic increase in MOOC and Ed-tech platforms. While the internet may present you with a plethora of online courses that you might find fascinating, it will be to your advantage to pick the ones that are related to your prospective area of study, because it will enable you to demonstrate how you’ve explored your interests in a tangible way. You should seek guidance from your mentors, teachers, or peers to ensure that you choose the courses which are the right fit for you.
The biggest advantage of MOOCs is that you have the power to complete them at your own pace with flexible times. However, “with greater power comes greater responsibilities”; you should organize yourself, be more disciplined and avoid procrastination while doing these courses. Consider asking a buddy to complete the course with you, to help hold you accountable.
2. Online Pre-college Summer programs
Pre-college summer programs are a great opportunity to explore academic interests, get a taste of college level classes, and add value to your college application. With the virtual mode of teaching becoming the new normal, several universities are offering online summer programs, including some which earn college credits.
This list includes highly selective universities such as Brown, Yale, Stanford, UC Berkeley, U-Chicago, etc. With careful research and advice from your mentors, you can find the right-fit summer programs for you. While choosing a program, you should always ask yourself how this adds value to your college application. These programs usually last from 2 weeks to 6 weeks, which may allow some time to focus on other summer activities as well. You can complete more than one online summer program if it fits within your schedule.
3. College Information Sessions & Virtual Tours
If you have compiled a list of universities you intend to apply to, you can subscribe to the universities’ email lists or newsletters to get updates on any information sessions taking place. Because of the pandemic, it has become the norm for universities to conduct information sessions in the form of interactive webinars. In many ways this is a blessing for international students. You now get access to admissions officers and can learn from them about your dream school, without ever having to leave your home! The information sessions can provide a wide range of valuable information on topics such as financial aid, academics, extra-curricular opportunities, and details about the admission process.
Apart from online information sessions, virtual campus tours have become an alternative to in-person campus visits. Virtual tours provide a very detailed picture of various aspects of a campus, and can help tremendously in understanding the physical space without visiting it physically. You can register for virtual tours by visiting the university admissions website.
4. Discover new hobbies & interests and share them
The lockdown has led to a boom in people diving into their creative sides – whether it’s baking, photography, knitting, guitar, comedy… the list goes on. You can use the summer to discover or refine a hobby and then share it with others by starting a blog, IG handle, YouTube channel, Etsy page, etc.
Discovering and enhancing a hobby also adds significant value to your extracurricular profile, and increases your chances of being selected in a holistic admission process. Sharing these hobbies through different mediums will also allow you to display these skills to the admissions office.
Though this may be a highly unusual summer, there’s no reason that you can’t turn it into an opportunity to learn more about your interests, your dream colleges and yourself!