By Path Mentor M.Q., alumnus of Columbia University, majored in Neuroscience (Originally Posted on May 11, 2020)
Due to quarantine and reduced school and work hours, students may be finding themselves with more spare time than usual. Staying healthy should be your top priority, especially since the US has higher rates of young adults contracting COVID-19 than other countries. Staying healthy includes taking care of your mental health. In this tumultuous time, it is totally okay to focus on yourself. Colleges and schools will be understanding if you focus on taking care of yourself during this time instead of on your resume.
- Volunteer in a safe way: Many organizations are in need of volunteers, such as food banks and senior services. Due to unemployment, more people are in need of food which means food banks need help packaging food. In addition, seniors are leaving their house less to protect themselves, meaning senior organizations need help delivery and checking on the elderly via phone calls. Look for local volunteer opportunities in your area via Google or by looking on different organization’s websites. Ask about non-contact volunteer opportunities to make sure you are staying safe!
- Make cloth masks to donate: The CDC released a recommendation that everyone should wear a face mask when in public. They released 3 tutorials of making cloth masks that people can create from items they have at home. If you have spare t-shirts or cloth at home, you could sew masks to donate to people who do not have time to make their own. Ask around your neighborhood or local organizations if they are in need of facemasks.
- Spread the word about COVID and stay up to date: There is so much information coming out about COVID every day that people have trouble staying up to date. There is the additional barrier for the general public of not being able to understand some of the more sciencey news that is coming out. The medical students at Wake Forest have created a website where they summarize recently published science papers to keep clinicians up to date. Consider doing something similar with a different target audience based on your interests. If you’re interested in policy, keep up to date with the CDC and President’s different actions. If you’re interested in healthcare, keep up to date with the latest scientific innovations. Then, write a newsletter or blog posts targeted to fellow students or community members.
- Work on something you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t yet: Now is the perfect time to experiment with that thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten around to. There are many free services available now that you can take advantage of. Are you curious about learning a language? Duolingo is free on the Apple store and has multiple languages available to learn. Have you always wanted to read more? Apple books and Amazon kindle have made many books free. Did you used to play guitar and then lost those skills? Fender is giving away a few months of free online music lessons. Do you want to become a better writer? Set a goal to write for 30 mins every day. Research your interests and set a goal. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish during quarantine!
- Cultivate healthy habits: The uncertainty of the world right now is likely causing some stress or anxiety. Use this opportunity to cultivate habits that will help you become more resilient. Sleep enough, drink lots of water, eat healthily and exercise. Try meditation or yoga. Creating these habits now will make it easier in college to take care of yourself during stressful times like finals week. Use this time to learn what works for you.
Here at Path Mentors, we as mentors would be happy to help evaluate your current landscape and see where we can both make your life easier and your applications more impressive.