School is now virtual, you are stuck in your house and your summer plans are likely canceled. However, there are still ways to explore your interests, learn something new, and grow. Being productive can help your mental health and it will show colleges that you were able to refocus, adapt, and overcome an obstacle when faced with adversity. An added bonus… by being thoughtful and doing something meaningful, you will develop your own interests. Having trouble figuring out your interests or motivating to do something? Check out our virtual summer Student Synergy Project. College Calm can help!! 

Read Something

Read Something! Reading outside of class can help you explore new perspectives, expand your mind, and even help you on the SAT/ACT. Colleges often ask questions about what you have read outside of class or a book that has influenced your perspective. Now is a great time to read something. *PRO TIP: Google the author before you start reading to gain a deeper perspective on the book. Did you know that Max Brooks, who wrote World War Z, is dyslexic or that Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Unbroken, has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? If you need a place to start see below or check out the Great American Read on PBS. If you can, support local bookstores like the Reading Bug, Kepler's Books or Books inc.

History WWI and WW2
Farewell to Arms or The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (graphic novel)
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The Blind Side or Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Archives of Sport’s Illustrated. Anything before 1990 is incredibly well written. Check out Red Smith- he even won a Pulitzer Prize.
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Pro Tip* Watch the movie after you read the book and think/write about the similarities/differences (especially if you are into film critique).

The Classics
Great Expectations or David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pro Tip*If you want to know the general plot of a book before you start, check out Thugnotes for a good laugh. It is like CliffsNotes with an attitude! 

Good practice for the SAT or ACT
Read a few articles from The Atlantic which are about as long as the reading section passages for the SAT and ACT. Find the main idea and a few challenging words.
Read The Wallstreet Journal Weekend Review for shorter columns and stories with great vocabulary.
Pro Tip**Note five challenging vocabulary words in anything you are reading and look up the meanings.

Watch Something

Watch Something! Inspiring and educational things you can watch on Netflix. History: Ken Burns Documentaries: WWII, Vietnam War and more Environment: Chasing Coral Sports: Undefeated Human Rights: He Named Me Malala Politics: Knock Down the House Food: Salt Fat Acid Heat Film Making: Raider’s: The Story of the Greatest Film ever Made Architecture and Design: The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes Technology: The Great Hack Consumerism: Minimalism Shine On with Reese: Reese Witherspoon visits with groundbreaking women to discuss their inspiring journeys. Poets, filmmakers, activities, actors, and singers My Next Guest Needs no Introduction with David Letterman: He revolutionized late-night. Now he's diving deeper in a series packed with heart, laughs and extraordinary people.

Listen to Something

Podcasts: A Great Way to Learn Here are a few ideas to get you started. Stuff you Should Know: The Iowa Caucus, How Grass Works, Sugar: It Powers the Earth, How the Placebo Effect Works. Revisionist History: Malcolm Gladwell journeys into things often overlooked and misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time.
# Who Would Win: An entertaining and well-researched discussion of superheroes and sci-fi comic book characters. Against the Rules: Michael Lewis takes a deep look at what’s happened to fairness—in financial markets, newsrooms, basketball games, courts of law, and much more. Start with “Ref, You Suck!” Orpah’s Master Class: Hear life lessons from some of the most respected and renowned actors, musicians, public speakers, and athletes. Check out Grant Hill, Jay-Z, Laird Hamilton, Barbara Walters, and Dr. Maya Angelou.