A key and rather obvious requirement to getting admitted into university or college is your academic record, particularly your high school transcripts. The academic numbers help the admission committees to assess your academic strengths and facilitate their selection of candidates for their classes and in some cases award scholarships. However, universities in the USA require more from their applicants: they want to admit students who have shown leadership, innovation, creativity, passion, diversity and community impact. These they cannot get from your academic scores.
These qualities are acquired either in school or outside of school when you are not studying your physics or Mathematics textbooks or lessons. You acquire them in social, family, community, and identity groups. These groups or activities are those that you spend your extra hours doing after school or during summer breaks or long vacations. You might even spend your evenings and weekends working at them to attain goals other than academic. These are what we call EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES.
For seniors who already have a many extracurricular activities must find ways while in lock down to continue these activities while at home. However, if you have not done much in your extracurricular activities, I have suggested below some activities you can do in a lock down situation especially for students in Africa.
1. Creative Writing: For those who are writers of fiction, or even non-fiction, this is the time to use solitude and quiet to start writing the story you have always wanted to tell. More importantly, you need to share these stories, so you can enter online writing contests or publish in local or national magazines or even online free publishing sites like Wattpad.
2. Blogging: There are a lot of high school students who write blogs, so it might not be the most interesting activity you can have on your profile. The reason is that most of these blogs do not have readers. Therefore, it lacks the “wow” factor in getting the attention of admission officers. Some ways to improve your blog following is to pick niche topics about a phenomenon that affects your local community, school, or country and bring some awareness to it through your writing. Do some basic journalistic work: photos and interviews (Do it virtually if possible). In Africa, we have many deep-seated problems that you can focus on.
3. Vlogging: For those who love to use the camera to tell stories, help tell others’ stories or even your own. Again, pick a specific topic or area and focus on your videos. I will recommend topics that may concern some activities you have been engaged in for some time now. Consider tutorials on how to cook local dishes with few resources, managing spaces in a small house, sewing of clothes or mending clothes, teaching certain subjects online, etc. It could even be starting a campaign that assists children and women to deal with domestic violence during the lockdown
4. Composing Music: Those who feel the musing of “Oshun” (Nigerian goddess of music and dance) should probably heed her call and start creating their own songs whether with an instrument or just your voice. Music is one of the strongest activities you could have on your application profile. It shows a lot of creativity and innovation. One of the things admission committees are looking for in their class.
5. Art: I have seen some amazing artwork from high school students ranging from drawings, paintings, sculpturing, and even graffiti. Get your brushes and pencils and start creating some arts as you stay safe.
Digital art could be another way of expressing your artistic abilities. Graphic designing could be a good skill to use to help local SME’s who are going digital to market their services and goods in style. You can even provide them with free services as your contribution to keeping their business open. Imagine the local kibanda or a Waakye seller whose food is loved by all in the community can start making deliveries because of your graphic design work on Facebook or WhatsApp.
6. Scientific Experiments: If your interest is in STEM, then become resourceful by using every item around you to make that model of a car of our dreams. Design that experiments on the purity of tap water in your community, start building that robot with your Robotics club members, start that research by using free data online. Get your lab coats on and start discovering, but do not burn the house down.
7. Remote Volunteering Work: Volunteering work might not be the most unique or glamorous activity on any college application profile, but during this lockdown you can make it special. You can start tutoring your siblings and even neighbors’ children remotely while their parents go about working from home. What about the NGO you use to volunteer at, why don’t you start a crowdfunding campaign to help them raise funds? You can even manage the social media page of that local hospice by sharing daily pictures of the elderly residents to their families who are unable to see them.
8. Coding: Creating software or even Apps will be a unique achievement on your resume, especially one that could help people or solve a problem. With all the ‘free’ time you have, start coding. You can use the skills and knowledge you have acquired in your coding lessons for good. You can do data crunching using easily accessible data for a project or research. Create a simple App that assists students to get free access to textbooks or online resources for different subjects. You can even create a website that allows students to do peer-to-peer learning.
9. Online Learning: Nothing shows curiosity and intellectual vitality than a student who uses free time to learn a new skill or improve his/her knowledge in a subject or skill. Learn how to cook online so you can support your mom in the kitchen or bake and sell to support the home financially, take advantage of some of the free or cheap online courses universities like Harvard and Stanford are offering.
10.Sports: Now this sounds impossible but for sportsmen & women you start online video game competitions to raise funds for your team or any minority group. You can start an online physical training session for your school team to keep them in shape; create an online physical exercise for kids in your community to keep them active at home.
In a nutshell, you can make or create something, inspire others, support those in need, help those who need assistance, and learn while you have the chance wherever you are in the safety of your mask or home. Be resourceful, creative, and lead.
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