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How Will Coronavirus Impact Summer Programs?

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Summer programs are a great way to pursue your passion, connect with like minded people, and do something productive with your vacation, all while impressing college admissions committees with your extracurricular pursuits. This year, however, many students and families are concerned about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact summer programs — and whether they’ll go on as scheduled. Here’s what you need to know.


How Will Coronavirus Impact Summer Programs?


As of now, many organizations plan to run their summer programs according to schedule. For example, Mathcamp, Summer Discovery, and the National Student Leadership Conference have all stated that they have no plans to cancel the program, though they are monitoring the situation and may cancel their programs depending on the circumstances closer to the programs’ start dates. Depending on the timeline and escalation of the spread of COVID-19, some programs may have delayed start dates, or be canceled altogether. 


What Should You Do If Your Summer Program is Canceled?


If the program you planned to attend is selective, it’s still worth mentioning on your college applications, even if it gets canceled. For example, you might say, “One of X students selected to participate out of Z applicants; selection was based on submission of a research project. Program was canceled due to COVID-19.”


If the program isn’t selective, there’s no need to list it on the Common Application. Instead, find other ways to spend your time productively. Given how many organized activities are likely to be rescheduled, altered, or canceled altogether, consider self-driven projects you can do from home. These projects are ones you can complete independently on your own time. They can be very valuable from an admissions standpoint because they demonstrate that you’re able to take initiative, and they allow you to emphasize your passions or talents.


If you do go this route, be sure to quantify your achievements as much as possible on your college applications. For instance, let’s say you start a fundraiser for people in your community who lost their jobs because of the impact of coronavirus. On your application, you should list how much money you raised and how many individuals benefited from it. 


If you decide to create content in an area of interest, whether by starting a blog or YouTube channel, you should know that content with an intellectual lens is most valuable in college admissions. This doesn’t mean you have to pursue something purely intellectual, like make YouTube videos about math concepts. It just means you should try to take any more casual content to the next level; for example, instead of trying to be an Instagram influencer, you might research and analyze how Instagram influencers impact consumer behavior. Instead of starting a blog reviewing animes, you might apply film and literary theory to a popular anime.

What Should You Do Now?


If you’ve already committed to attending a summer program, check its website frequently to stay informed of any updates. The program will likely alert you of any cancelations, or major scheduling changes, but it’s still a good idea to check anyway in case an email goes into your spam folder, or you miss an update. Also, check the program website for details about the refund policy should the program be canceled, or you don’t feel comfortable attending. You may need to call the admissions office about their refund policy if you’re unable or unwilling to attend due to coronavirus.


If you don’t have summer plans yet, many programs are still accepting applications. Again, be sure to check the refund policy prior to applying, since nobody knows the timeline of this pandemic and how it will affect our lives in the months to come.


In the event your program is canceled, it’s a good idea to devise a backup plan for productive ways to spend your summer. Plan out a self-driven project that you’d be equally excited to pursue, so you’ll still be able to have an engaging summer.


These are difficult times for everyone. At CollegeVine, we’re here to support you. How COVID-19 is impacting college admissions is a constantly-changing situation, and we want to ensure you have access to the most up-to-date info in one place. Visit our Coronavirus Info Center to check for any new developments in college admissions during these unusual circumstances.

Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.