By now, almost every summer program has been cancelled or has shifted to a digital platform. Some universities report that their pre-college programs account for nearly 10% of their yearly revenue, and these cancellations will only add to the potentially jeopardizing financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students are slowly beginning to face the possibility of spending summer months at home as COVID-19 continues to spread. For many, schools have been closed since March, and remote learning will keep them busy through the remainder of the school year. It is clear that this summer will be more important than ever for students to explore their non-academic interests and passions. Colleges will take notice of ambitious students who took initiative during this time to develop their passions and find innovative ways to give back to their communities.
Traditionally, students have attended pre-college programs, worked summer jobs, continued athletic training, participated in internships or research opportunities, and studied topics they may not be taught in school or develop skills such as coding.
Deceptively marketed as prestigious, most pre-college programs have high tuition rates and high admission rates, and are highly profitable for their host universities. Unless students have been accepted into entirely merit-based summer programs, such as the Bank of America’s Student Leaders program, MIT Research Science Institute, or the Telluride Association Summer Program, and these programs shift to online platforms, attending pricey pre-college programs may now be less worthwhile than ever before, especially as they shift online and lose their benefit of offering students the college experience.
Despite the COVID-19 cancellations, students should try to explore the skills they may have learned in their summer plans. For example, students who were planning on conducting research or internships should continue to seek projects they can complete remotely. Students can take advantage of the plethora of online opportunities to explore their passions. Between academics, sports, and extracurriculars, here are some online summer opportunities for students to consider:
- Outlier.org for students who wish to take Calculus 1 or Intro to Psychology for transferable credit from University of Pittsburgh. These classes are a great way to fulfill general education requirements.
- DIYguru online courses for Mechanical, Electrical & Electronics Engineers in Industry 4.0 are worthy enough to offer college and skills-based courses in engineering and science, and degrees or certificate programs for a small fee. With virtual learning replacing in-school classes, students may not be receiving as intensive of an educational experience. Certificate programs and classes will demonstrate intellectual curiosity to potential colleges, allowing for an exploration of interests.
- For basketball players interested in being recruited to play at the Division I level, DJ Sackmann’s Hoop At Home program allows students the opportunity to train with one of the top basketball minds in the world from anywhere in the world. Sackmann is a world-renowned basketball clinician and the mastermind behind HoopStudy, an online basketball training program for players and coaches.
- Heidi Jones from Performix House helps athletes to improve their athletic performance and skill through guided programs and daily live workouts. With quarantine leaving most Americans home-bound, it’s important that students continue to challenge themselves physically as well as mentally.
- Teensgive and Upchieve for students who are interested in online tutoring should check out. This is a safe, remote way to help students in need, especially those struggling with online learning, keep up with their course work.
- UN Online Volunteering Service for students interested in worldwide volunteerism. They provide a large variety of remote opportunities to give back to the global community, and allows students interested in global relations to explore international service work.
- Smithsonian Digital Volunteers for students interested in transcribing historic documents or contributing to the Smithsonian’s WikiProject. This is a great opportunity to explore archival and academic based work in a museum sphere.
- Translators Without Borders for students who speak, read and write more than one language fluently. Students can volunteer as translators through the organization to practice different languages through an extracurricular channel. Language skills have a great deal of value in an increasingly globalized world, and most colleges have a language requirement for incoming students.
- Masterclass provides students the opportunity to learn from professionals at the top of their field, like Anna Wintour, Annie Leibovitz, Serena Williams, and Joyce Carol Oates. Learning from individuals who have made a name for themselves in their field can give an insider’s perspective into what it takes to succeed in fields such as fashion, photography, sports, and writing.
While COVID-19 closures and cancellations are less than ideal, students can take advantage of the additional free time summer brings to develop both old and new skills. This is an excellent time to discover and explore interests that have the potential to be lifelong passions, and even potential career paths.