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Education: Novel Ways of Adding Value to College Application Resumes

by Rita Chakravorty Email by Rita Chakravorty
June 2020
Education: Novel Ways of Adding Value to College Application Resumes

High school students who have been polishing their resumes for applying to universities, are suddenly at a loss due to the fog that is the pandemic. Here are some ideas on what you can do to best utilize this time to get into the college of your dreams.

The Covid-19 pandemic has rudely disrupted the academic world. So many plans have been upended, and the light at the end of the tunnel is hazy at best! College admissions officers also understand the unique challenges that students are confronted with. So how will they evaluate student activities? If we could peer into their heads, we’d realize that they are looking for attributes such as diligence, creativity, commit- ment, and skill level. So, take heart, and instead of focusing on what you cannot do, look at all the things that you can do instead.


If you’ve always wanted to learn something new and never had the time, now’s the perfect time:

Coursera, Udemy, edX, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), and The Great Courses—all offer online classes on various subjects.

• Universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford also offer many short online options.

• Access the free resources of Open Culture for eBooks and audiobooks

• Listen to TED Talks.

• The Facebook group, “Amazing Educational Resources,” has assembled a comprehensive list of resources that companies are offering for free during this crisis.

• Take your foreign language learning to the next level with Duolingo, Babbel, Pimsleur, or Rosetta Stone, and practice with real people in Language Bird Chirp Rooms. Learn coding at,, and many more.

• Reach out to professionals in your social circle and interview them. Ask them about their core tasks and what their typical day looks like. What are the pros and cons of their job as they see it? These can be excellent virtual job shadowing experiences.


They say the best way to learn is to teach. Teach anything you’re good at.

• Post your tutorial on Instagram live or start your YouTube channel, and maybe become a bit of a star!

• Sign up to tutor online or start your own tutoring service for other students who need help. School on Wheels (for tutoring homeless kids), Quarantutors, TeensGive, and VIPKid (for teaching English) provide opportunities that can help you get started.

• Teach the elderly how to use FaceTime, Zoom, or other apps that enable people to connect. If you’ve always worked with this demographic, then you could continue these services via organizations such as

• Help people with reading disabilities through BookShare.

Are you tech savvy?

If technology is your thing, you can:

• Try to help solve Covid-19 related problems by 3-D printing medical masks or other personal protective equipment. Volunteer to make medical masks and face coverings with MasksNow.

• Develop an app that tracks the spread of the virus in your city or county, or identifies people who have recovered.

• If you have advanced, or even basic, coding skills, do some home-based coding for nonprofits through organizations such as Code for Social Good, Benetech, or donate:code.

• You may want to research and blog about how certain companies have adapted or struggled during the pandemic by leveraging technology.

• Offer your tech services to friends, teachers, and other professionals.

• Some small businesses who can’t hire currently would love to have you help them out. This would also give you an added advantage of seeing things from a business perspective and learn from them.


• Launch a business on Etsy, eBay, or Amazon and sell something made by you. Or try selling unused clothing, toys, or other things you want to get rid of on Mercari, Poshmark, or Depop.

• Alternatively, you may want to consider an offline business service that involves helping your neighbors with things like planting veget-able gardens, walking dogs, or small maintenance projects, while practicing appropriate physical distancing.

• You could be the go-to person in your neighbor-hood for quick tasks such as mail drop off, yard work, or delivery service if you drive.

Get Political

• How about politics and influencing public discourse? Write an opinion piece on how different levels of government, from neighborhood councils to federal policymakers, are responding to the Covid-19 crisis, and what you think they should have done differently. The OpEd Project offers tips on writing such pieces, and a long list of places to submit them.

• With elections around the corner, volunteer with local political organizations to increase voter turnout through Rock the Vote and Postcards to Voters, which you can participate in by writing at home. Contact your local Democratic or Republican campaign offices about how to help. You could start out by stuffing mailers, calling voters, or helping with social media campaigns.

Create and Contemplate

• Get in touch with your creative side and look for opportunities to showcase it. For example, if you love custom shoe designs and want to help win $50,000 for your school’s art program, recruit your design team to compete in next year’s Vans Custom Culture.

• Write that novel, poetry collection, screenplay, or cookbook that’s been buzzing around inside your head.

• Keep a journal and self-publish a memoir of your experiences during this time. Perhaps interview neighbors or family members, and write short stories about how people are coping, and submit them for publication in local news outlets or to writing contests. Submittable has a list of publications seeking new work, including some visual art.

• Take a moment to reflect every day and you’ll be surprised at your own creative energy. Take photos, document change, and chronicle the pandemic. At the least, you’ll have a lot to write in your essays. At best, you’d have something to hold on to for posterity.

You get the idea. Rather than peering through the fog, so to speak, use this time to break away from established norms, try new things, and own your actions. If you’re worried about validation, know that anything you do earnestly and with passion will bear the mark of excellence. And it will not be overlooked by colleges.

Rita Chakravorty is the founder and lead consultant for CollegeSmartboard, a one-on-one college admissions counseling service. As a member of IECA (Associate), SACAC and Int ACAC, she is vetted for education, background, training and ethics.

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