For many high school seniors today, the idea of “college life” will look different from what it was pre-COVID-19. Although many universities and colleges are still admitting students for 2021 terms, expectations and preparations need to be adjusted in light of the pandemic.
With colleges dropping or drastically changing standardized test requirements and school districts debating how to grade students, it can leave graduating seniors wondering how they can prepare for college in the middle of a pandemic. Should you start studying for SATs? Do you spend more time in extracurricular activities or mock tests? Is it OK to pursue other hobbies, like taking private voice or singing lessons ?
Regardless of where you are in the college admission process, planning for the future need not take a backseat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s how you can prepare for college and take care of your physical and mental health while you’re at home.
Start Working on Your Applications
The common Early Decision deadline when it comes to college applications is often November 1. There will be shifts on these dates, but don’t depend on colleges pushing back deadlines due to the pandemic. Always plan for deadlines that exist as soon as possible.
Of course, you’re not going to write your application in the next few days. You’ll want to include experiences over the summer and next fall. Still, this is a great time to put your resume together or start thinking about your essays. By making time for some applications now, you give yourself more breathing time in the application process later.
Figure Out Your Area of Academic Interest
If you’re an underclassman, applying to colleges may seem like a long way off. In a year or two, however, you’ll be starting your applications. And when you do, you need to know the major you want to focus on. While your college life will not be bound by this decision, admission officers need to know your choice to determine your readiness and suitability for their campus.
So, what does this mean for your COVID-19 schedule? During your free time, think about your major. What has been your favorite subject so far? What are your parents’ and teachers’ opinions? Set aside an hour each day to learn more about the field you want to study.
COVID-19 may have kept you at home, but through the Internet, you’ll never run out of ways to learn more. If you’ve finally decided on a major, you’ll be in an excellent position to dive into a field of study in a post-COVID-19 world.
Research Summer Programs for Next Year
All of your summer plans may have fallen victim to COVID-19. Disappointing as it may be, you can spend your free time today re-thinking about what you want to do once the pandemic has ended. Start with your summer: how can you make it fruitful?
Consider enrolling in a summer program. Some of the most competitive programs have applications as early as December or January of the next year. So if you want to give yourself a leg up during the application process, apply for a summer program.
If you’re also reading on an area of interest while you’re at home, learn more about internships for the next summer.
Keep Up With Your Classes
Due to COVID-19, high schools across the globe have been forced to make the move to online distance learning. Although not all high school courses are required online, many students must continue their college-level classes as online classes.
Using your time wisely makes a difference in your success. It’s a common misconception that online classes are easier to take compared to their in-class counterparts, but that’s not always the case — especially with your AP classes.
Even if you’re at home, strive for the best grades and pour all of your efforts into your assignments, including discussion boards and daily work. Even if you’ve already been accepted into your dream college, your classes are still important. Remember: universities and colleges have the option to revoke your admittance.
Stay Connected with your School Clubs
Although being separated from your peers and teachers is one of the toughest parts of the COVID-19 lockdown, the distance offers an opportunity, especially for freshmen students. If you’re like many first-year students, you may have joined different activities and clubs without committing to anything in particular.
Since the pandemic is keeping you at home, you can evaluate the activities and decide which one you miss the most. After all, college applications require a commitment to a few significant activities. So, take the lead, join the group and become a valuable member of your favorite school clubs.
College applications are stressful, so prioritize staying physically and mentally healthy. Every student is in the same boat as you, and colleges are sympathetic to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Whatever you do with your college prep routine, don’t neglect physical or mental health.