“Use this time wisely.” This is a very common refrain right now, one which I’ve repeated to my own students--and to myself. But what exactly does using time wisely look like?
Being wise with your current time at home can be fun and can benefit the future you.
Use this time at home…
To Engage In Sanity Maintenance
Cultivate new hobbies.
I’ve been asking my students during our online sessions if they’ve picked up any new hobbies. I love hearing the creative ways they are filling their time--learning a new instrument, knitting, taking free photography courses, painting records, sewing hospital masks, baking, and many more. While obviously some hobbies (windsurfing, spelunking, rugby, etc.) are off-limits due to restrictions, there are still ways to be active, engaged, and creative and so many free resources (YouTube tutorials, free online courses, DIY blogs, etc.) available for you.
Explore the world from your couch.
Museums, zoos, aquariums, operas, Broadway theater, NASA, and even Mount Everest are places you can still go--virtually, of course. Museums, like the Louvre, Guggenheim, and National Gallery in DC, are offering not just virtual tours but activities that allow you to dive into specific exhibits or artworks. You can virtually visit some zoos and aquariums, like the San Diego Zoo or Monterey Bay Aquarium, and keep up with your favorite animals. Through virtual tours, activities, and performances, step into worlds you’d usually have to travel to see.
Books can provide the same escape that movies and TV shows provide, with the added benefits of getting away from a screen and developing so many skills (reading comprehension, writing skills, grammar instincts, etc.). Need access to books? Try free library apps, like Libby. Not sure what to read? Check out GoodReads. Click on a genre that interests you and see what is recommended.
Keep a journal.
Writing can be a good way to reduce anxiety. Side benefits include practicing writing skills, learning to articulate your thoughts, developing interesting stories (fiction or nonfiction), and chronicling a historic moment. Who knows? What if decades from now, your poems, stories, or nonfiction are what high schoolers have to read to understand this historic time? Anything is possible. Need prompts? There are so many lists of writing prompts out there, like this one by The New York Times.
To Grow Your Academic Side
Prepare for AP Exams.
Even though the May 2020 AP Exams are streamlined 1-2 question free-response tests, you should still study for them. Focus on the specific Units and FRQs that College Board has specified for your respective AP course. For instance, for AP Lang, practice the Rhetorical Analysis essay (FRQ 2). Not sure how to prepare? Pivot Tutors can help you.
Take an online course.
So much educational material is currently free, through sites like UC Scout or Coursera. Even the Ivy Leagues are offering over 450 free online courses. You can also study a new language or deepen your knowledge of one you are currently learning through apps like Duolingo.
Study for the ACT/SAT.
While the future of ACT/SAT college admissions requirements remains uncertain, scoring high on the ACT/SAT will only benefit your application to schools. Remember Testing-Optional policies don’t mean you shouldn’t take the test. ACT/SAT scores are necessary to help you stand out from similar applicants--see previous posts for more info. If you are a sophomore, why not use this time to start prepping now? If you are unsure where to start, we can help with that.
To Help Plan For College (especially Class of 2021)
Research colleges and universities.
If you are a junior, be nice to your Fall 2020 self and start researching colleges now. What requirements will you need to apply? What are common essay prompts for that school? What potential majors look interesting to you? Dig into your options.
Start brainstorming for college application and scholarship essays.
When applying to college, you have to write a lot. There isn’t really any way around it. Whether applying for scholarships or colleges, most require some sort of essay, if not several. Juniors, even sophomores, could use this time to brainstorm. Use the Common App essay prompts as a starting point.
Word of Warning: While I’m all for using this time “wisely,” please don’t try to do everything. Choose a few things to focus on, so you can give those your best effort and not get overwhelmed. Remember to rest--whatever that looks like for you (having virtual trivia nights with friends, taking naps, doing yoga, listening to music, having dance parties in your kitchen, etc.).
However you choose to use this time stuck at home, make sure you are continuing to learn, grow, and challenge yourself, benefitting both the present and future you.