Learn something you’ve wanted to learn but didn’t have time — learn a new language, learn to code, learn to make a YouTube video, learn how to use Microsoft Excel, learn to bake and decorate a cake, learn to cook from your mom or dad, learn to change the oil for your family car, learn to solve the Rubik’s Cube, learn about the stock market and investing, learn to (fill in the blank).
Read a novel or a series of novels, a collection of short stories, a book that’s been sitting on your shelf that you didn’t have a chance to get to yet, a biography of someone you admire, the news.
College Admission Tip: Some college applications ask students to list the books they’ve read in the past year.
Listen to your favorite song or album; the symphonies of Beethoven (nine), Brahms (four), and Tchaikovsky (six); a podcast; TED talks; the news.
4. Write or create
Write a short story, a poem, a song, a computer program, a diary or journal, a blog, your college essays. Create a painting, music, a game in Java, a garden, your resume.
5. Share your talents
Play music for your family members at home or online. Organize an online talent show with a group of friends.
6. Sharpen your problem solving skills
Solve a crossword puzzle, a Sudoku puzzle, or difficult math problems (the type you would find on math competitions like the American Mathematics Competitions). Conduct a simple science experiment in your garden, kitchen or garage.
7. Study and do well in your classes when schools resume
Participate in class discussions. Ask questions. Volunteer answers.
College Admission Tip: Actively participating and contributing to class discussion will help your teachers get to know you better and also help them write a strong letter of recommendation for you when you need one.
8. Take an online class
Delve deeper into something you’re interested in. There are free online classes, and Elite offers credit-bearing classes as well.
College Admission Tip: Colleges like to see students go beyond their regular school work and take advantage of other learning opportunities.
9. Start your college search
Create your college list, visit colleges virtually, make a list of what you like and don’t like.
College Admission Tip: Put yourself on the email list on the college website, and click on the links in the emails you receive to learn more about the college (this might also help with colleges that track demonstrated interest.)
10. Research your dream job
See what the job is like on a daily basis (what will you do, what skills are important, where would you work (e.g., an office, a lab, outdoors), whom would you work with), find out what major is good for what you want to do and what colleges are good for what you want to study. Start with this College Board webpage. If you don’t know what you want to do in the future, take a personality test to find out.
11. Talk to your parents and grandparents
Ask them about their life growing up, ask them what they wanted to do when they were your age, ask them about their work (what they like and don’t like, what they get excited about), ask them about their proudest accomplishment, ask them to tell you about an object that they value (and ask them to tell you a story about that object). Write their biography.
12. Exercise daily
Jog, lift weights, do pushups and sit ups, jump rope, do yoga and meditate, play ping pong, badminton, or frisbee with a family member, shoot baskets.