Generation Z possesses a lot of fantastic qualities, but the one thing we repeatedly hear from admission officers is that they want to see more grit, more resilience. Many high school students aren’t used to failure and find it difficult to pick up the pieces and move on, missing the chance to learn from their past mistakes.
Don’t wallow in things you can’t control. As an independent educational consultant, I’m waking up daily to an inbox flooded with emails. Students are asking questions such as, “How is this virus going to affect my future college application? Are these abridged AP exams still valid? I worked so hard this year, took a rigorous curriculum, but now how can this pass/fail grading highlight my improved grades? My prestigious summer program was just canceled—what can I do for the next several months? With all the seniors currently asking for gap years, will this mean there will be fewer spaces in future years?”
Yes, these are all valid concerns. But no, speculation or worry won’t change the outcomes.Most of these questions don’t have black/white answers, and the situation is fluid; only time will tell how this plays out. Take comfort in the fact that everyone is in the same situation-this is happening to all high school students, not just you.
Take this challenge: prove admission officers wrong. You can pivot, and make lemonade from lemons. Here is your chance to demonstrate it!
Our students have been discovering opportunities that they are enthused about; things they wouldn't have had a chance to engage with during their normal routine. We are speaking to admission officers every day, and they’re excited that, amidst the unfortunate consequences of this pandemic, this static period might turn into a wonderful time of exploration and realization for teenagers.
So what kind of innovative choices have our students pursued?
We have had several students making masks, with all sorts of creative designs and materials. They are shipping them to hospitals, shelters, community centers, and other places with need.
Some of our students have chosen to teach classes online, to children, teens, and/or adults. They have created a curriculum in their field of interest (Spanish, Chinese, Computer Programming, Creative Writing, Dance, Art), and they’re advertising their classes on social media and running them weekly! We also have students using their social media and computer skills to help small businesses that are struggling right now.
Still, others are selecting topics they’ve always wanted to learn but never had the chance. They’re carving out time each day to teach themselves new material. We have students learning sign language, Korean, and discovering many “how-to” courses such as:
- Invest in the stock market
- Be “happy”
- Be a ventriloquist
- Write and publish a short story or poem
- Become a stand-up comic
- Do origami
- Take beautiful photos
- Master the art of public speaking
TeenLife has several online opportunities listed here.
There are also numerous activities that you can volunteer for. There are an infinite number of choices, and you can also invent your own. Some of the ones we love are:
- Project LiveNotes – deliver a “musical telegram” to someone in need.
- Cards for hospitalized kids—make cards for hospitalized children.
- Be My Eyes – use a free app to support blind and low-vision individuals.
- Learning Ally: Narrate audiobooks
- Make a Free Website –create a free website/blog. Several of our students have done this to promote their business.
- Smithsonian Digital Volunteer: Learn how to transcribe
Take some time out of each day to do something that makes you happy. The country is really asking for “physical distancing,” not “social distancing.” Schedule video calls with your friends, so you can connect with them and bring some normalcy back into your life.
This will end at some point, and you will return to living your life outside of your home. But in the meantime, focus on what is in your control, and work to enjoy this new, temporary normal. Try some new things-explore, experiment, create, and initiate. You will find yourself going to sleep each night with a wonderful feeling of satisfaction!
Of course, most importantly, STAY SAFE!
Disclaimer: We understand that everyone is facing different challenges. If you are not in a position right now to do anything but work on your school work and help your family, DO NOT feel compelled to take on anything else right now. You need to make the best choices for yourself in your current circumstances. It’s fine to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.