Standing Out in an Era of Vanishing Extracurriculars
Guest post from Dan Stern of Metro Academic Prep.
My students’ summers are no longer packed with returns to cherished camps in the mountains or thrilling experiences at exotic international locations. Instead, most are getting comfy at home and trying to find innovative ways to occupy their time between Netflix binges.
Many students and parents are anxious that the dramatic decrease in extracurricular activities caused by the coronavirus pandemic will negatively impact their applications, whether to competitive high schools or to colleges. Thankfully, students have always thrived from independent projects that are still possible during COVID-19 conditions.
Independent projects can be absolute game-changers with high school or college admissions committees, but they’re also fantastic ways to engage meaningfully with the world. Independent projects allow students to explore their interests and passions with few constraints, and reward creativity, hard work, and discipline.
There are infinite opportunities for students to engage with an independent project. They could learn a new skill, like a coding language, or the musical instrument that’s been collecting dust in their bedroom. They could leverage an existing skill like design or web development to build a new website. They could reach out to a favorite non-profit organization and volunteer time performing remote work in areas like operations or marketing. The possibilities are truly endless.
Here are two independent projects that I helped a student build from scratch:
- Holocaust Witnesses, a documentary sharing previously untold stories of Holocaust survivors.
- Oceans’ Queens, a website promoting shark conservation in oceans worldwide.
I would never tell a student to take on a project just to increase his or her chances of getting into a high school or college. However, if the student has genuine passion and motivation for a topic or skill, this summer of vanished extracurriculars is the time to bring that vision to life.
Dan Stern is the owner of Metro Academic Prep, a test prep and college admissions company known for generating unparalleled results.