How COVID-19 Disrupts the College Search – Part 3

Published by Wendy Nelson on

How COVID-19 disrupts the college search for the high school class of 2021 is only partially understood at this point. There is a lot of speculation, based on what is happening with college admissions for high school Seniors in the class of 2020.

This is the third post in a multi-part series on how COVID-19 disrupts the college search. The series is focused on “things that keep you up at night” with respect to the college search for your high school class of 2021 student.

Last week, I talked about limited opportunities for ACT and SAT tests and what that means for the college search. You can read that post here: How COVID-19 Disrupts the College Search – Part 2.

The prior week, I talked about class of 2020 Seniors deferring their college admissions to the final year and possibly taking spots from class of 2021 students. You can read that post here: How COVID-19 Disrupts the College Search.

This week, I am focused on your student having limited opportunities for “college application boosters”.

What Are College Application Boosters?

These are the things that will make your student stand out in the college search process. They are other parts of your student’s college application besides grades and test scores. College application boosters usually fall into the extracurricular activities category. The best ones are unique opportunities or activities that your student has pursued. These will be listed in the extracurricular activity section of the application. They may also be a great topic for an essay.

High schools closing during Spring of 2020 made it more difficult for high school Juniors to get application boosters from school activities.

School Spring sports and club sports were cancelled, so no new sports-related application boosters.

Sheltering at home meant limited opportunities for special projects outside of home.

The Summer before college applications has typically been used by students to get that last boost for their applications. Many of the opportunities for travel, work, sports and other activities are not available this year. Summer camps were mostly cancelled so there went the opportunities to work at one, to attend an academic camp at a college, or to attend a sports or skill-specific camp.

Students were left wondering what they could do to give their college applications that extra boost.

Tips for Getting College Application Boosters Now

It’s time for your student to think outside the box. There are plenty of opportunities – they just need to get more creative.

Here are some ideas for creative college application boosters:

  • Special projects – there are still many types of projects your student can take on, even with social distancing.
  • Volunteer opportunities – social distancing doesn’t mean an end to volunteer opportunities. There are some organizations where it will be relatively easy to volunteer in person while distancing, especially outdoors. There are also many ways for your student to volunteer remotely, using their skills to help an organization in need.
  • Start a business or non-profit
  • Learn a new skill – This could be anything¬† – a craft, a musical instrument, a language, a computer program – the possibilities are endless
  • Online classes through a community college or online learning platform – although community college classes tend to be very affordable, many of the opportunities through online learning platforms are free or very minimal cost
  • Read some great books
  • Research opportunities – there are many areas where a student could do research from home

In this crazy year, colleges will be mostly looking to see what your class of 2021 student did with their free time. How did they adapt to online learning? What did they do to take the place of clubs, sports and socializing that they would have done in a normal year? Did they sit around or did they try to make the most of the opportunity for extra time?

Next week, instead of focusing on your student, we will turn it around and focus on the colleges and whether they are still set for long-term financial survival.