Extracurriculars in a COVID-19 World

Most extracurricular activities were cut short in spring of 2020. Some have yet to start up again in the new school year, and others remain at risk of shutting down again based on community pandemic responses. Yet extracurricular activities remain important both for your mental and emotional health AND for your college applications. How should you handle interruptions to your extracurricular activities? What COVID-19 extracurriculars are available to you?

If your extracurriculars are still on hold…

Lead the charge to adapt them.

If your extracurricular activities are still on hold, contact other members and your faculty advisor to brainstorm ways to transition them online. A lot of activities can continue with social distancing modifications. On the debate team? Stage online debates. On the track team? Videotape individual races and make a split screen video.

By leading the charge to adapt in-person extracurriculars to the virtual world, you not only make it possible for you and your classmates to continue your activities but also display great leadership qualities—always a plus on college applications.

Develop your interest in your major.

A lot of colleges have supplementary essay prompts asking how you have developed your interest in your major over time. Instead of looking at the pandemic as a barrier to pursuing your interests, look at it as a unique opportunity to stand out. Here are some examples of pandemic-safe ways to continue exploring your intended major:

  • Medicine: You can’t participate in the usual hospital volunteer opportunities, but you can still explore the medical field. Consider volunteering for contact tracing or at a public health nonprofit. Make masks to donate. Take an online class through EdX or Coursera.
  • Computer Science: Learn a new coding language. Build a computer, a robot, or some other gadget. Build a website. Design a video game.
  • Liberal Arts: Take an online class through EdX or Coursera. Start a blog where you write about interesting information in the field that interests you. Look for publishing opportunities through teen magazines or websites.

Start a new hobby.

If nothing else, pandemic life has eliminated that “if only I had time” excuse. What’s something you always wanted to learn to do? Turn your quarantine free time into some COVID-19 extracurriculars by learning some new skills.

Maybe you always wanted to learn an instrument—take some virtual music lessons.

Have you ever wanted to learn to knit? Or to paint? Draw? Sew? Build furniture? Fix a car? Now is as good a time as ever.

Want to learn to cook or bake? You could probably master gourmet chef skills with enough video tutorials.

Look for virtual volunteer opportunities.

The pandemic hasn’t put an end to volunteer opportunities—it just moved them online. Check out these websites and filter for online opportunities:

Make your time productive.

It’s really easy to binge Netflix and scroll through Instagram instead of being productive. But that’s no way to live! Your mental, physical, and emotional health will benefit from keeping busy—and so will your college applications. Here are some other ideas for COVID-19 extracurriculars:

  • If you’re an athlete whose sport is on hold, work on fundamentals to stay in tip top shape.
  • Challenge yourself to read 100 books in a year and start a blog to write reviews for each book.
  • Choose a cookbook and cook your way through it; use Instagram, YouTube, or a blog to record your progress.
  • Build a home electronics project with a tool like a Raspberry Pi.

Watch our recent webinars — How to Have a Productive Summer and How to Enjoy Learning and Living while Stuck at Home — for more ideas on great activities.

If your extracurriculars are back in-person…

Talk to your fellow students and your coaches or faculty advisors about how to plan ahead for a transition to virtual if that became necessary. By having backup plans, you can ensure that you don’t face the same interruptions that happened in spring of 2020.

COLLEGE ROADMAP

FRESHMAN

  • You’ve got time before applications are due, but it’s time to think about what interests you have outside academics and pick some extracurriculars.
  • Try anything that sounds interesting. Don’t try to think about what “will look good” on an application or what you think colleges will be looking for. Be yourself and explore your passions.

SOPHOMORE

  • Continue trying new things and delving deeper into extracurriculars you started last year.
  • As you move through high school, try to take on larger roles within clubs or groups and demonstrated increased leadership and responsibility.

JUNIOR

  • It’s not too late to try something new, but also continue to expand responsibilities in activities you’re already participating in.
  • COVID-19 has thrown many activities into disarray, so you may have to be creative in figuring out ways to continue.
  • You can also use this time to explore new interests, start a new online or socially distanced club, or teach yourself something new. We’re limited in many ways by COVID-19, but there are lots of opportunities out there!

SENIOR

  • It’s not too late to try something new, but also continue to expand responsibilities in activities you’re already participating in.
  • COVID-19 has thrown many activities into disarray, so you may have to be creative in figuring out ways to continue.
  • You can also use this time to explore new interests, start a new online or socially distanced club, or teach yourself something new. We’re limited in many ways by COVID-19, but there are lots of opportunities out there!