Study Abroad - Differentiation in the era of COVID19
- Written by UnivAdmitHelp
- Category: Mentoring
- Published on 20 Apr 2020
Study Abroad - How can I differentiate myself in the post-COVID 19 era
Differentiation is a difficult beast to tame, even in the easiest of times! It is like running on a treadmill - you have to constantly figure out anchors that are unique to yourself and in a way constantly innovate on things that you can showcase. The moment something becomes commonplace, it loses its value. Once it was MUNs, and then it was maker-spaces, and then came virtual internships - once unique and differentiated, these activities have become fairly commonplace. Like the proverbial treadmill, you need to run to stay in the same place!
The COVID 19 induced pandemic has complicated matters. You might have thought of doing a particular activity in a particular setting, maybe you were slated to participate in a coveted summer camp or finally had the opportunity to play your game at the national level… and now, all of this has come to nought as many such opportunities are not available. You are confined to your homes, taking your lessons online and feeling like a caged bird!
The way to resolve this is to stick to first principles and creatively deploy your time to showcase your best form and personality. What does that mean?
- First principle analysis: You are who you uniquely are. The preparation, therefore, is to make your uniqueness shine or get validated. It is important to understand that most successful students know who they are and have amassed a number of reference points to validate their unique characteristics. These people plan well in advance, experiment with numerous possible pathways, and formulate a long-term strategy to achieve their goal.
- Creatively deploying your time: Lots of things can be done from the comfort of the home. May it be panting, blogging or research, reading and online courses, or even gaming and programming. After one has identified his uniqueness, that can be sharpened by activities at home. Don't get disheartened that you cannot do the activities that you had planned for earlier. Instead, view this as an opportunity that has given you the gift of time, and an opportunity to view your activity palette in a different, hopefully, more powerful fashion. We suggest a 3-step-process to identify the activities that you can do to differentiate yourself in these times -
Step 1: Make a laundry list of all activities that are possible in each of your interest areas from the confines of your home. A key thing to note in this listing is to not hold yourself back in any way when you are building this list. No point is wrong; just keep adding whatever comes to your mind. You may also build upon what you have already written. Don’t be surprised if you come up with a list of more than 50 possibilities for each of your interest areas.
Step 2: Decide which ones to commit to. The trick here is to pick up objectives which can be validated and showcased with ease. Also, you may want to pick up objectives which are difficult to achieve yet are within grasp. These are called SMART objectives. (S is for Specific, M is for Measurable, A is for Achievable, R is for Realistic and T is for Time-bound).
Step 3: You may take help from a parent, teacher or a counselor to pick up the right objectives. Once you have them identified, start working on those and build up your differentiation elements. Remember though, that it is critical to keep your teachers in the loop so that they can later talk about these in their recommendations.
Here are a few examples of how some people are responding to the changed situation and still continue to build their differentiated profile.
Virtual Painting exhibition: Denied the opportunity to conduct a brick-and-mortar painting exhibition, this girl has moved her works of art online. Using patented software she has converted her paintings into certified true virtual copies and is now raring to do an e-exhibition of her works. She also plans to give away a part of the proceeds to help the nearby hospital purchase the PPEs (Personal Protective Equipments) for the doctors who are in line of duty against COVID 19.
Virtual simulation for a seed-throwing machine: Inspired by the virtual idea repository platform, ACadru (https://acadru.com), a student got inspired to mimic nature to create solutions for the future. A budding engineer, he is not sure how to design the prototype and he turned to Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu) to design it and then test using a virtual simulation software.
Staying connected through a newsletter: Head of the school magazine, a young writer realized that all physical production has stopped in lieu of the COVID 19 crisis. Not to be daunted, she started an e-newsletter and invited material from her fellow students. Soon, she was up and running. Also, the reach of the digital newsletter was higher - she could socialize it not just in the school but also in the local community!
Football blogging: This student is a passionate football player. Deprived of opportunities to play or watch new football games, he has built a blog on the most watched football games in the past. He has built a massive following based on his sharp analysis and strategic insights from the games that he wrote about.
Clearly, COVID 19 induced lockdown is an opportunity for you to showcase yourself and build those latent talents which could not find expression earlier. Now is the time to build those and differentiate your profile. And remember to stay safe while you do that!