Are you passionate about any clubs, sports, or school subjects? Or are you more into video games and Netflix? If you’re applying for college, it might be time to pick up some new extracurricular activities that will look good on your college application.
It is essential to include extracurricular activities on your college application. You do not want to leave this space blank, so spend your time in high school wisely by participating in extracurriculars.
According to US News & World Report, experts say that demonstrating talent in at least one extracurricular activity can help in the college admissions process, especially at top-tier undergraduate institutions.
Students involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to demonstrate specific key characteristics that admissions officers are looking for. According to College Board, admissions officers will look at extracurricular activities to see what unique attributes the candidate will bring to their student body.
There are, of course, more than a few different types of extracurricular activities that appeal to colleges. Below is a list of extracurricular activities that includes a little something for everyone. Hopefully, you will find an activity you can consider adding to your application. Let’s review what constitutes a strong extracurricular activity.
Extracurricular Activities to Impress Colleges
Students on the debate team are more likely to be engaged in current issues. They are challenged to stay up to date with current events, government policies, and social issues. The debate team pushes students to develop skills in critical thinking, public speaking, and how to formulate intelligent opinions. All of these traits are appealing to colleges.
Extracurricular activities like theatre, music, dance, or art club will demonstrate your creativity. These extracurriculars are especially helpful for students looking to go into the arts.
If you are not looking to get involved in the arts but still enjoy participating in these activities, it will show colleges that you are well-rounded and understand the value of arts. Not only will this look good on your application, but it can also be a rewarding, stress-reducing hobby.
Being a talented athlete can be a huge bonus to getting noticed by colleges. However, you do not have to play sports in college for your experience to matter on your application.
Athletic activity will show admissions officers that you have the determination to succeed in college. Participating in a team sport will show that you work well with others. Participation in sports is also a great way to showcase your leadership skills, for example, if you have been voted captain of your team.
Some colleges require applicants to complete volunteer work. Find something you enjoy doing, then volunteer to help people in your community so you can fulfill the mandatory community service hours. For example, if you enjoy sports, you could help coach a little league team. If you love animals, volunteer at a local animal shelter. There are many ways to get in your community service hours in a way that you will enjoy.
Colleges understand that some high school students must work part-time jobs while attending school. Therefore, if you do not have time to participate in extracurricular activities or sports because of your part-time job, that is okay. The skills you are learning at your job are also valuable and should be included in your application. Keep track of the lessons and skills you are learning at your job. Working at a part-time job can show that you are skilled in time-management and that you are dedicated and responsible.
Colleges also want to admit students who promote diversity and culture. Clubs that can demonstrate your willingness to learn about and be accepting of others can be appealing. Participating in these clubs will show your compassion for others and your willingness to speak up for what you believe in.
If you are a leader and want to showcase this on your college application, you should consider joining your student government. Participating in the student government will show that you are capable and responsible, and that other students look up to you.
No matter which way you look at it, having an internship while in high school is impressive. This will show the colleges that you apply to that you are mature enough to enter the workforce even in high school. Additionally, this will show schools that you can handle your course load and juggle the many responsibilities that come with college.
Being a published author is an impressive accomplishment on a college application. Most colleges consider writing to be a necessary skill, so being published, even if it is just in the school newspaper, can show your talent. Having writing experiences before college will help you to become successful in higher education, and admission officers understand that.
There are also many clubs related to specific interests or subjects, including chess clubs and math. Participating in these clubs shows you are interested in academics both in and out of the classroom. Adding these clubs to your application will show admissions that you are not afraid of hard work.
The good news is that there is no specific definition that colleges use to determine what constitutes an extracurricular activity. You can take something you are passionate about and convince others that it has helped you grow outside of school.
For example, if you start a dog walking business in your neighborhood, you can include this on your application. According to SF applications, “if you can describe why the experience was meaningful, pertinent to your academic interests, or important to your growth as a human being,” then you can include it on your application.
Benefits of Participating in an Extracurricular Activity
There are many advantages to being involved in extracurricular activities. Some obvious pluses are the personal and professional growth that you will see in yourself as you participate in your chosen activities.
Additionally, you will develop skills that you otherwise might not be able to in a classroom setting. Participating in a variety of extracurriculars will also expose you to new interests that you might not have initially been open to. Other valuable skills that extracurriculars will teach you include time management, responsibility, and leadership.
Additionally, after engaging in an extracurricular activity, you will have many potential references to use later when you need to ask for letters of recommendation. You may want to ask your club sponsor or other leaders in your organization.
Choosing the Right Extracurricular Activity
College applications can be stressful and intimidating, but it’s important to know what you should include. Of course, grades and test scores are essential, but colleges will also be impressed if you have a list of extracurricular activities that you are actively involved in.
Below are some tips to choose one of the aforementioned extracurricular activities to help boost your college prospects.
Make Sure Grades Come First
Never forsake your grades for an extracurricular activity. Though extracurricular activities have many benefits, these benefits don’t outweigh the power of maintaining your grades.
Furthermore, don’t focus on an activity just because you think it will look good on your college application. Colleges want to see what you enjoy doing in your spare time, so you should be participating in the extracurricular for yourself.
Choose an Activity You Love
When choosing an extracurricular activity, make sure it is something you love. You want to benefit from the experience in more ways than just recording it on your application. Colleges will be looking for an applicant who is involved and passionate in their club. The admission officer will want to see why a particular activity means so much to you.
Remember: Quality Over Quantity
Admissions officers are looking for students who are involved in a few different activities. But you don’t need to join eight clubs just to show a college your skills.
According to College Transitions, schools are looking for applicants who are deeply engaged in just a few activities. They are also seeking out applicants who are leaders in their club or organization, and for skills that they can see directly transferring to their college campus.