Thousands of schools are closing across the U.S., with students out for two weeks or more. The amount of e-learning provided by schools varies, with many students left to their own devices. Families are struggling to find things to do while social distancing.
High school students preparing for college applications might be wondering how they can spend this time wisely. Extracurricular activities, science fairs and other competitions have been canceled, leaving many high schoolers wondering how they can fill gaps on their resumes.
It might be tempting to lie around, post videos to TikTok or watch Netflix all day. Instead high schoolers should use this time to learn a new skill, take an interesting course or prepare for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Here are 10 free resources for high school students to get ahead while school is out.
1. Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers daily schedules for students ages 4-18. The free website also has courses in math, physics, U.S. history, grammar, economics and biology. High school sophomores and juniors can also find free SAT practice questions and tests. Even though the upcoming SAT administrations have been canceled or postponed, students still might want to prepare for this important exam.
Even though your classes and extracurricular activities have been canceled, it doesn’t mean you should stop learning. EdX is an online platform that offers more than 2,500 courses online for free. Taking an online course is a great way to boost your resume and prove to colleges you can handle challenging material. Take this time to learn a new skill or explore a possible major from institutions like MIT, Harvard, University of California-Berkeley and more.
Coursera is another e-learning platform that allows you to be taught by professors from Ivy League schools and other elite schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford and Duke. All the courses are available for free, and topics available include C++, marketing, engineering and psychology. By taking these advanced courses, you can explore a possible major choice when you go to college.
Quill is offering its services for free to anyone affected by school closures. The interactive writing site is perfect for anyone who wants to brush up on their craft before writing their college admissions essays. On Quill, you can gain editing skills by proofreading passages, practicing grammar skills through short activities and advancing your writing.
The cognitive benefits of learning another language are undeniable. Studies have shown that being bilingual can benefit memory, problem-solving abilities and even intelligence. Duolingo is a free app that high school students should take advantage of now. Some schools offer limited foreign language options, but through Duolingo, students can learn Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, Russian and many more. If you want, you can even learn fictional languages like Klingon and High Valyrian.
While you might not be thinking about the job market just yet, coding is one of the most valuable skills that you can pick up. Codecademy is offering Pro scholarships to students affected by school closures. On the free site, you can choose what to learn, including building websites to analyze data. You’ll learn by doing and can start writing code within a few minutes of joining the site.
Learning how to photoshop is not something that many high school students learn how to do. Through Phlearn, you can learn for free with video streaming on demand. It will teach you more about Photoshop, Lightroom and mobile editing, as well as the fundamentals of taking great pictures.
8. The College Board
One of the biggest uncertainties stemming from school closures and canceled standardized tests is what will be done about Advanced Placement tests. Students can receive college credit if they get a score of three or more on the exams. The College Board has announced that it will be providing live and on-demand AP courses for free to help prepare for the upcoming exams.
The AP tests will mostly focus on the material that was completed by early March, and students will be able to take the tests on any device, including computer, tablet or smartphone, with the option of writing responses in by hand and submitting a photo. These classes will be mobile friendly and can be used in conjunction with any material your teacher might have given you.
9. YouTube EDU
If you are a visual learner, check out YouTube’s channel on education. You can pick up some tips for studying at home, including how to study more effectively, stay focused and create a study space. The channel also has crash courses on subjects like chemistry, SQL and illustration. You can find fitness videos, cooking videos and fun DIY activities.
Skillshare has a plethora of courses available for free. For example, if you have an idea for starting your own Etsy store, you can take the “Building an Etsy Shop that Sells” course. Or, you can take a Productivity Masterclass to learn how to study more efficiently when in high school and college.
11. Free College Preparation Courses
College might seem like it is still far away, but freshmen and sophomores should be using this time wisely to start building their candidate profiles. The free online course, College Planning: High School Students, prepares students for their journey to college by scheduling classes with college in mind and learning essential life skills.
High school juniors can start preparing their college applications while schools are closed. The Common App personal statements for the 2021-22 cycle have already been released, and students can write the required 650-word essay now. Join the free course How To Write A Winning Personal Statement, which covers brainstorming techniques, writing the opening paragraph, real-world essay examples, and common mistakes to avoid.
To make the most of these uncertain times, high school students should focus on learning a new skill and exploring topics that they are interested in. By spending their time wisely, they can get ahead even when school is out.