Pre-College Advising • Pre-College Planning Guide

COVID-19 Effects: How to Use Your Time Productively… Online! (Updating)

POSTED ON 04/04/2020 BY The Red Pen

COVID-19 Effects: How to Use Your Time Productively… Online! | The Red Pen

Summer is just around the corner and every year, students take advantage of this time to build their profile. Students do this by enrolling in summer programmes, travelling, engaging in passion projects, assisting in community projects and more. However, this year, we are faced with a pandemic, which requires us to rethink our plans. While disappointing, keep your spirits up!

There is an extensive list of productive activities that you can continue to pursue… online! 

1) Summer schools: 

Some of you may have applied to summer schools. Due to the uncertainty of the situation, some of these programmes might still run on the university campus, some might be cancelled and others might offer the programmes virtually. Keep checking the summer programme’s website and stay in touch with the programme representative to ensure you have the most recent information available. Also, given the current situation in India, be realistic about travelling even if the campus reopens. If you do not have a visa, it is unlikely that you will get one in time as the consulates in India are shut.

Programmes, such as Inspirit AI which focuses on artificial intelligence by Stanford Alum and  The School of The New York Times which provides interesting opportunities in Journalism and writing, are moving online.

At the end of the article is a list of universities that are currently offering their summer schools online, as well as enrichment program opportunities available. 

2) Skill set development: 

Now is the best time to focus on developing useful skills. Whether you want to improve your reflective writing skills, delve into coding or test your hand in cooking, there are a wide variety of options from which you can choose. There are ample resources and courses online that you can enrol in to help. Artiste 360, which helps students to bring out their creative side by learning different painting styles, along with the art of etiquette and other interdisciplinary practises, is taking a virtual approach. Talerang, which focuses on developing 21st-century skills such as design thinking, consumer listening, digital marketing skills and perfect communication is also conducting online classes this summer.

3) Community service: 

While most of us are under the presumption that community service can only be done in person, 2020 changes that for most. Site visits and in-person interactions will be a challenge given the current scenario, but you can promote social change and work towards various social causes online. Organisations such as TribesforGOOD help students brainstorm ideas and take on a leadership role to alleviate different problems that our society faces, such as women’s menstrual health issues, mental health crises, lack of animal welfare and sustainability. Initial and long-lasting change can be achieved by video storytelling, creating a website, a blog or an app, or even via creating content on financial literacy.  

4) Passion projects: 

Students can work on projects in areas about which they are passionate. STEM students can use their knowledge of artificial intelligence to come up with entrepreneurial ideas or actually extend coding skills to create video game applications. Makerspaces such as CuriosityGym and Makers Asylum offer students mentors that help them execute their ideas. Students keen on theatre can work with institutions such as Jeff Goldberg’s Studio to extend their passion for drama, whereas students interested in photography can use their time to create unique albums of photographs on different themes.  

5) Test preparation:

Getting your testing done early is the best thing you can do for yourself. For those of you in grade 9 or 10, give a diagnostic test of both the SAT and the ACT. This will help you identify which testing style suits you better and prepare for it early. If you’ve completed grade  10, you should spend considerable time over the next few months preparing for your chosen test, so you can give it at the earliest test date. While some universities such as Tufts University, may have waived of their testing requirements for two admissions cycles, the test is not going away. A good score will only make your application more competitive. Nonetheless, not all universities will be waiving this requirement. SAT n paper has prepared students for this test online and continues to do so.

6) Academic enhancement: 

For those of you that are studying in the Indian board, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The good news is that these AP exams will take place twice this year, and the May ones aren’t cancelled as they allow students to test from home. All those math geniuses that intend to apply for pure math/STEM fields and plan to take the AMC examinations, spend your time preparing for those so that when the next academic year begins, you are already set to give this. Organisations such as CourseLeap assist with this preparation.  

7) Supplementary courses: 

If you are moving from an Indian board to an international board to study the IBDP or the A Level, you can use this time to enrol for IB Bridge Courses. CourseLeap provides extensive programmes to introduce you to IB-specific programmes such as Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay. Moreover, you can use this time to get ahead with Math A&A if you are apprehensive. Many universities are providing niche as well as in-depth courses on different topics and subjects areas. If you are keen to know more about philosophy but haven’t had the chance to study it yet, this is the best way to get a glimpse of it. Here, you can access these courses.

8) College research: 

In case the college visits you planned for this summer get cancelled, you can learn more about your dream schools by taking a deep dive into their websites, connecting with their alumni and current student body, taking virtual tours online as well as attending webinars and information sessions that admissions officers will be conducting. This will help you get a better understanding of the location, courses offered, area, costs, and other critical factors about the university. For example, Pomona College is offering virtual tours that you can sign up for beforehand.

While the next few months can be daunting and the uncertainty can leave you perplexed, focus on the positive and use the excess time that you have most constructively. Good luck and get in touch with us if you require further assistance planning your time.

Some summer schools that have online programmes:

US programmes:

Brandeis University:
Brown University:
Cornell University:
Georgetown University:
Johns Hopkins University:
New York University:
Northwestern University:
Purdue University:      
Stanford University:
The Ross Mathematics Program, in collaboration with Ohio State University:
The Stanford EWSS Scholars Program –
University of California, Berkeley:
University of Massachusetts Amherst:
University of California, Los Angeles:
University of Chicago:
University of Pennsylvania:
University of Vermont:
Youth Creativity, Innovation & Sustainable Leadership Program –

UK programmes:

Kings University:
Oxford University (Oxford Royale Academy):
SOAS University of London:

Other European programmes: 

Sciences Po:

Indian programmes:

Ashoka University:  
Plaksha University:
Flame University:

Online enrichment opportunities:

Angel Xpress Foundation –
Clever Harvey:
Clone Futura:
Horizon Inspires:
Lumiere Research Scholar Program:
Research Discovery:
Speech and Debate India –
Unicorn Futuring Olympiad: 
Zell Education: