As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads through the U.S. and shakes the global economy, schools and companies are cancelling events, programs, and encouraging work from home. Schools in the tri-state area including Horace Mann, and public schools in Scarsdale and Bergen County have closed as a precautionary measure. Harvard, NYU and Princeton have announced online classes, some for the remainder of the semester. College Board has cancelled a number of March 14 SAT exams. Though we don’t know how much longer the coronavirus will continue to spread, there’s a chance your summer plans may be cancelled. Here are some ways to prepare for this possibility and still make the most of your summer:
Ask your mentor or boss if you can work remotely
The first thing you should do if your summer plans are canceled is explore the option of working remotely. While this isn’t feasible for many jobs, it is for some. If your boss or mentor lets you know that they may be canceling their company’s internship program or stopping group lab work, ask if there is any way you can work from home and still add value to the project or company. Many companies are starting work from home (WFH) in light of the coronavirus and it could be possible for you to do the same. Research laboratories may still have opportunity for remote data input, survey creation, data analysis, or literature reviews. With permission from your boss or mentor, you may figure out how to still engage with the meaningful summer job, internship, or research project you had planned.
Start your own project
This can look like starting your own website, nonprofit, or hosting community-based events. Think about what you are passionate about, and how you can explore it while doing some good in the world. For example, if you’re interested in student wellness, think about creating a website and writing blog posts with healthy recipes and ways to get active. If you’re passionate about green initiatives, think about how to raise awareness and incorporate improvements into your own life and into your community. Perhaps you, your friends, and your school can pledge Meatless Mondays, or you can initiate a recycling and composting program in your town. The possibilities are endless. It helps to start by thinking about what you care about and what changes or improvements you’d like to see in your life and the lives of those around you.
Conduct your own research
Though you may not be able to go into the lab or out in the field, the internet is a wealth of information. Email your school librarian or browse your school website, and find out how to log into JStor, Proquest, Sage Journals, and other databases that might be useful. Figuring out what research you may want to conduct is the first step and it’s important to learn more about what research has been already conducted and published in that field or topic. Once you determine what you may want to research, seek the guidance of a mentor. Ask your intended research mentor if they would be willing to mentor you remotely, and work together over email, phone call and video chat. If your original research topic can’t be completed remotely, identify a type of research that can, and contact professors in that field and ask if they would be willing to mentor you. The advantage of remote research is that you are no longer limited to your nearby university, or constrained by the need to be physically present. This means your scope of possible mentors just grew to universities all around the world!
Hunker down and study for your standardized tests
If your summer plans got cancelled and you can’t participate in them remotely, you likely have a lot more time on your hands. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have the distraction of school work or a job or internship, and devote some of your time to studying. You’ll need to finish your SAT or ACT and two to three SAT Subject Tests by senior year for your college application, so this is the perfect time to get one, or all of these out of the way. Some of these exams might undergo schedule changes due to the coronavirus, so use this time to prepare for any new, or originally planned test dates this spring, summer, and fall. Consider taking online classes or finding a tutor to supplement the material you have learned in the classroom.
Get involved in your local community
While you’ll want to be careful and cautious of health related safety concerns, there’s always opportunity to do good in your community. Find out if the elderly couple down the street need help grocery shopping, or if you can volunteer at your local food kitchen or pantry. If you’re looking to take part in more solo activities, consider raising money for a local charity or cleaning up your local beach or park.
Starting journaling, thinking about and writing your Common App Essay
If you’re a rising senior, the summer before senior year is a great opportunity to work on your personal essay for the Common Application. Your essay can be written on anything, so finding the perfect topic may seem a bit daunting. One way to find a good topic is to start journaling daily. Try to write down two things every day that you thought were beautiful, joyful, irritating, or challenging, and then write about why. This journal can serve as inspiration for your essay topic. As senior year begins, your schedule will fill up and you’ll have a lot on your plate. Completing your essay ahead of time will allow you to focus on other components of your college applications (i.e supplements) and your school work and extracurriculars. If you’re an underclassman, still consider journaling and starting to collect anecdotes of experiences that will play a role in your growth as a student, person, and citizen of the world—you may end up writing your Common App Essay on one of them!
Finally, read. Read a lot.
The benefits of reading are endless—not only will you learn a great deal, but you’ll become a better writer. Find out if your school has a recommended reading list, but unless it’s required, feel free to explore your own interests. You get to choose your own subject. This is a great opportunity to learn about your interests that aren’t taught in your classes. Find a comfortable spot to hang out, and relax with a good book in hand!
Original content from Forbes and Christopher Rim