College Planning and Social Distance
Living with the COVID-19 outbreak can feel like uncertainty overload: as we continue to track the changing college admissions landscape, we are dealing with a wide range of shifting circumstances—from testing changes to upended summer plans.
Now more than ever, it’s important to focus on what you can control. And, in this context, that means thinking creatively about what you can access remotely from home. This will be an ongoing process for all of us, and everyone’s journey will be unique. As always, we are here to help you brainstorm and answer any questions you might have in this difficult time.
Most of you will have more, and less, than you had imagined: more time, and less mobility. With this in mind, we wanted to share some ideas and resources you might find helpful as you consider your plans for the coming weeks and months, whether you are looking for ways to pursue your academic interests, plug in to community service opportunities, or simply connect with others.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
We can’t emphasize this enough: your number-one priority right now is you. When your usual routines are suddenly disrupted, it can be easy to lose sight of the activities that help you stay centered. Many find that taking the time for a brief, daily meditation can be a great practice. As the Marks Education tutoring team has often advised, there are many excellent, free meditation apps—such as Insight Timer; Stop, Breathe, and Think; and Calm—that can help you find a routine that works for you. Are you missing your favorite sport, or the gym? A whole range of fitness studios have begun offering free online classes in response to the Coronavirus. You might tune in to a free cooking class from a (temporarily sidelined) top chef. You might connect with a local firm like Georgetown Psychology, which is among those offering online therapy groups for teens. Or, if you’re like me, nothing beats a walk around the neighborhood. Whatever works for you, make sure you make it a daily priority!
FIND A WAY TO PITCH IN
Each day we hear news stories about truly heroic doctors, nurses, and first responders. But you don’t have to be a healthcare professional to lend a hand. Idealist.org is an excellent first-stop for anyone nationwide looking to connect with local groups organizing remote service opportunities. From collecting and donating supplies to groups sewing protective masks from scratch, there are many different ways you can get involved without needing to leave your home.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR STUDIES
Experiences of remote learning will vary widely, but it is likely that many of you will end up with more time and bandwidth to devote to academics or artwork in self-directed ways. The bad news is that libraries are closed. The good news is that there is a wealth of online resources for students interested in just about any subject. Love history? The Library of Congress continues to be an unparalleled source of free digital archives, and the Internet Archive recently announced its National Emergency Library, which makes their incredible collections of books, music, and film available to all without waiting lists. Interested in learning Arabic, Portuguese, or Hindi? Apps like Duolingo continue to offer free access to language learning tools. Sites like Physlink.com and Particleadventure.org offer ways to deepen your knowledge of physics and join discussions with working scientists. A two-week free trial on Skillshare will get you access to hundreds of master classes on photography, animation, graphic design, and all things artistic (and of course there is always YouTube for free). Whatever your interest, using this time for a deep and self-directed dive into something that piques your curiosity will be an enriching experience—and it could also help you stand out when it comes time to apply to college.
RISING SENIORS: DRIVE YOUR COLLEGE SEARCH FROM HOME
With spring college visits cancelled, and summer plans uncertain for now, chances are that you’ll do most of your college research remotely. And many colleges have now ramped up not just their virtual tour and information session programming, but also the opportunities they offer for prospective students to connect with admissions officers and current students directly. Be sure to keep a close eye on the admissions office homepage, Twitter, and Instagram at colleges of interest for any updates. Take a look at our COVID-19 college search resource page for more guidance on the opportunities you might be able to access from home.