So many aspects of life have been changed due to the impacts of COVID-19 — and creating a standout résumé for your college application is certainly one of them.

Many extracurricular activities, including sports, theater, clubs and volunteering opportunities — all of which can be key features on college applications résumés — were canceled in the spring of 2020 and may be on hold until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine. So, where does that leave you with your résumé? Well, in the same spot as every other applicant. This is a global pandemic and you’re not alone. College admissions officers understand that. Kate Sonnenberg, founder of KS College Success, says, “They will not hold canceled activities against a student. Admissions officers at many colleges recently released a statement telling students not to worry about missed activities and to focus on self-care.”

That said, if and when you’re ready to get back to extracurricular activities, here are some expert tips on making the most of what’s available during these uncommon times. 

The more creative you can show yourself to be, the better the impression for the university.

Bring Former Activities Home

Consider how you can make your former extracurriculars, or at least elements of them, work in the safety of your home. Brady Norvall, founder and chief education officer of FindaBetterU, offers this example: “Choir might not be an option, but continuing to sing or study music on one’s own is still possible. The more creative you can show yourself to be, the better the impression for the university.” 

Sofia Zapiola, a college application coach, also suggests demonstrating your passion for an activity, even if you can’t fully participate. If you were planning to highlight a sport on your résumé, for instance, create an individual fitness plan with measurable goals. It may not be the same as winning the state championship, but it does show dedication and initiative. 

Count Caretaking

“Colleges are in part looking for a student [who] will take an active role in their community and is working toward becoming a global citizen,” Zapiola says. Responsibilities like a part-time job or pitching in with family needs can demonstrate your global citizen aptitude just as well as participating in Model UN. Have you helped care for a grandparent or younger sibling during the shutdown? Have you stepped up to help your parents with household maintenance? Don’t leave those major contributions off your résumé. 

Master New Skills

Depending on your situation, you may have additional free time on your hands. Using that time for something constructive, like honing a new skill, can be a great indication to admissions officers that you’re proactive and excited to learn. 

“I’ve had students use the time to meet more personal goals, such as reading for enjoyment again, practicing yoga and mastering ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin on the guitar,” says Lindsey Wander, founder and CEO of WorldWise Tutoring

If you know what you want to study in college, Zapiola notes that this is a good opportunity to learn relevant skills. “Research what software is most commonly used in your field,” she says. “Being familiar with these programs will give you a leg up and show admissions officers that you are serious about your future.” 

There is a lot that students can accomplish with their phones, ingenuity and passion.

Go Digital

Even though things IRL have slowed, the digital world is thriving. “There is a lot that students can accomplish with their phones, ingenuity and passion,” Norvall says. Need some ideas? Norvall suggests starting a blog if you like to write, launching a film club if you’re a film buff or creating instructional videos if you’re an artist. 

If you were hoping to put an after-school or summer job on your résumé but that’s no longer possible, think about paid remote positions instead. For an out-of-the-box idea, Zapiola suggests “transcribing and indexing historical documents for genealogy websites.” You could also offer remote tutoring sessions for younger students who need extra help with their at-home learning. 

Help Your Community

Addressing COVID-19 pain points within your community is a meaningful way to spend your time. “Many people need help in a variety of ways, and most students can probably check the pulse of their neighborhood or community, see what people need and try to figure out a way to provide that,” Norvall says. If you’re comfortable getting out in your community, many people need groceries delivered, meals dropped off and childcare. “Focus on the community closest to you and start there,” Norvall says. 

Remember, you’re living through extraordinary times, and there’s no right or wrong way to apply to college. That said, Norvall emphasizes the value of being resourceful and taking whatever steps you can. “We could be in for a much longer haul, so sitting around and wishing COVID-19 away is not going to benefit anybody,” he says. “Just keep being creative and challenging yourself every day.”