How to Boost Your Extracurriculars During COVID-19

How can high schoolers participate in extracurricular activities and prepare for college in the middle of a pandemic? Read advice from a real student here!

The uncertainty and confusion of the ongoing pandemic have led to many questions regarding what college preparation and readiness will look like this year and beyond. Apart from maneuvering existential crises, AP course loads, and virtual learning, students and their families are concerned about the future of college applications—especially the elements that in a typical year require in-person interaction, like extracurriculars. Colleges are most interested in extracurriculars that give back to society, hone transferable skills, and let students explore their interests. Now, it’s more crucial than ever for prospective college students, parents, and educators to be armed with relevant information to better facilitate and help those students find the best approach to make their extracurriculars truly stand out. Here are the best ways for students to prep for college and safely engage in extracurricular activities during the pandemic.

Extracurriculars that give back

Since social distancing is still the best practice, students should make the most out of virtual volunteering opportunities. Volunteer Match remains one of the largest volunteering networks for nonprofits and volunteers to connect and collaborate with each other. Students can also explore the social issues they’re passionate about and do their part. Organizations such as the Borgen Project are encouraging students to reach out to Congress members by email or letter about key legislation concerning global poverty. Students can also use this time to impart their own talents and skills; for instance, organizations like TeensGive are recruiting volunteers across the country to help reach and engage with communities on a needs-based basis.

Related: Give the Gift of Volunteering: 7 Opportunities for Winter Break

Extracurriculars that build transferable skills

Developing transferrable skills is crucial for college success as well as for future internships and jobs that may utilize skills and applications like Python, coding, web design, and more. Dominic Harvey, Director of the UK IT jobs site CWJobs, calls online education platforms “modern masterpieces of world literature” given what they’ve done in revolutionizing education. Online learning platforms such as Edx and Coursera offer strong foundational courses on some of these topics and skills as well as certificates of completion, which are always good to have to boost your résumés or a college essay. On the foreign language front, Duolingo and Italki are great ways to begin learning a language from scratch; Italki even offers students the opportunity to take one-on-one classes based on your language level.

Related: Transferable College-to-Job Skills for Students

Extracurriculars that foster passion and pursuit

If you’re unsure of what you want to take up, start by curating a list of clubs that are still offered safely at your high school that also match your interests and pursuits. Now is also a great time to have your parents share their own professional wisdom and introduce you to platforms such as LinkedIn so you can begin building your own professional profile and connections. In an article from Inside Higher Ed, college counselor and consultant Susan Chan Shifflett suggests using this time to “stand out” and “think out of the box.” Admission officers are now looking for new and dynamic qualities that can help ascertain a student’s resourcefulness.

One of the best ways for students to continue to diversify their skills and knowledge base is by engaging in their areas of interest. During this time, there are a variety of colleges offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You can also try looking into other academic and skill-developing platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, and Academic Earth. E-learning platform Myntor is miles ahead in preparing students for the unpredictability of high school, online learning, and extracurricular activities. Myntor students pass AP Calculus five times faster than those at a traditional school and work on projects like modeling for COVID-19, robotic exoskeletons, and heart failure.

Related: How to Discover and Pursue Your Passions as a Student

Overall, traditional college planning advice may not be applicable for a lot of things right now, or for helping students prepare for the coming years. But you can still pursue immersive and enriching extracurriculars during this time for self-growth and a stronger college application by adapting your approach accordingly to the changing times.

For more important information you need about the ongoing pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 student resources page.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Shivani Ekkanath

Shivani Ekkanath

As a person applying to college this year, I want to chronicle this crazy and unpredictable yet rewarding and fascinating journey so the experience feels less daunting for other students. I'm currently preparing to study Political Science for my undergraduate degree while trying my best to win a battle with the pressures of the IB diploma. I'm a lover of music, debating, reading about current affairs, dancing, baking (not too well), and writing. I'm also an an aspiring journalist and hope to attend Columbia University one day and work for the New York Times or Wall Street Journal.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Mataya Mann

Mataya Mann

High School Class of 2022

To say that CollegeXpress is a helpful tool would be an understatement as it is much more than that. Before finding CollegeXpress, all I knew was that I wanted to go to college, it was going to be insanely expensive, and I felt lost. CollegeXpress has given me access to resources such as helpful tips for applications and scholarship [opportunities], and helped guide me in a direction where I feel confident moving forward and pursuing a career. CollegeXpress has helped instill a spark in me that makes me want to continue and supports me in doing so.

Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.



High School Class of 2019

My favorite feature of CollegeXpress is the scholarship search. As someone going out of state for college, I needed all the financial help I could get, and CollegeXpress helped me easily find scholarships I could apply for to help fund my education.

Hannah Nelsen

Hannah Nelsen

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me look at colleges that fit my interests by taking my profile and matching it to colleges that have the programs I'm looking for. It has the ability to connect me to colleges so I can be contacted by them and look at them more in-depth to find what's right for me. Additionally, the scholarship database is super beneficial for getting scholarships for college. Not only does it help lift the financial burden of college but it shows all the opportunities available. Overall, CollegeXpress has been very helpful to me.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find Allegheny College with the super-user-friendly search tool for both schools and scholarships. Using CollegeXpress, I was able to search for programs I was interested in studying and find colleges that offered those programs. Also, once you search for the college, CollegeXpress can get you connected!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Trine University

Angola, IN

Thiel College

Greenville, PA

Merrimack College

North Andover, MA