Updated: May 23
How to answer the COVID-19 Question on the 2020-21 Common App?
Newsflash. Common App has added a new 250-word question for the 2020-21 application cycle. And it could be a game-changer. This optional question will appear in the Additional Information section of the application. Here is a sneak-peek on how it’s going to look:
Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.
Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N.
Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.
While you can choose whether to answer this question or not, at Writers Qi, we feel that it can add weight to your application when done right. Here are some useful tips for writing a good response.
There’s a Right Place for Everything: Writers Qi suggests that it’s advisable to stick to your personal story in the standard Common App essay of 650 words. Save your COVID related experiences in the new question in the additional information section. Why else would they give you space to write about your lockdown/quarantine experience?
Share your Struggles: You could share your emotional, financial, or any other kind of struggle that affected your personal as well as academic life.
Rahul, from Mumbai, may want to write about how his father’s business was disrupted during the lockdown, which affected the family’s finances.
Another student, Shaina, had to shoulder several household responsibilities during the lockdown.
Upon returning from the US, Shreya and her family were under home quarantine for 21 days, causing the family emotional distress. She could share the social stigma the family had to face, with people invading their privacy and posting pictures of their home on social media.
It’s not a pity party: This is an opportunity to show you grew as a person in the face of monumental difficulties arising due to this crisis. Maybe you failed at something due to the changed circumstances. Then, talk about your failures with pride. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall. But what matters is how many times you get up and ready to go again.
Give it a Positive Spin: Is there a story there that shows how you evolved into a mature and responsible human being? While it is natural to feel anxious and sad during this time, every cloud has a silver lining. You may choose to see the situation as a blessing in disguise, a way for families to come closer and a way for you to explore old or new hobbies and passions.
Arsh chose to write about his separation from his mother due to the travel bans imposed. He shared his story highlighting how both he and his father had renewed their special bond as they dealt with being away from the ones they loved.
Perhaps, you can sign up for Yale’s popular course on The Science of Well-Being. Show how you spent your time constructively. This is an opportunity for you to share how the global lockdown forced you to step out of your comfort zone.
When Life throws Lemons, make Lemonade: Write about how you did things differently and the changes you made in your lifestyle. Were you were able to come up with creative solutions for the problems that arose. Elaborate and stress on how you were able to innovatively and effectively deal with stress and anxiety.
Time to Create Your Story
Many people are coming up with ingenious ideas to offer support to the larger community during the pandemic. A Delhi homemaker and her son set up a mask dispensary where they stitched 1200 masks at home to be distributed free. Amateur musicians are uplifting the mood in their neighbourhood by playing live music from their balconies or holding virtual concerts. Community kitchens set up by RWAs are distributing food to migrants. TFAC (Theatre for a Cause) started a campaign which pledges ration to feed a family of four for a month for every musical video posted. 7Stories out of Singapore urges people to walk 7000 steps in a day and raise funds for migrant workers.
Still at a loss as to what you can do? Counsellors at Writers Qi are there to help you find ways to create value for yourself, your family, and your community in this time of global crisis. And when you have done your bit, Writers Qi is there for guidance on how to share your experiences effectively with Universities through the Common App!
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