Extracurricular activities can play a big role in college admissions. While grades and test scores are important, your extracurricular activities can be one way to set yourself apart from the other students. Unfortunately, many students do not realize how important extracurricular activities are until they are filling out their college applications. Here are five tips for extracurricular activities for college bound students.
- Start early. Don’t wait until senior year to join clubs and organizations. For new high school freshmen, it is the perfect time to start looking at activities. Younger high school students will have the time to test out the many opportunities that are available and find the right activities for the student. In addition, starting early will allow you to gain experience and move into leadership roles later on.
- Find your passion. Don’t choose activities because you think admissions officers will value it over other activities. Instead, find something you love. Extracurricular activities are not just about building your resume; they are also something you should enjoy doing. When asked to describe your activities in writing or in person, admissions officers can usually spot passion and boredom. Passion about an activity is endearing and could help your case when making admissions decisions.
- Quality versus quantity. A misconception about extracurricular activities is that students need to be involved in a lot of things. However, quality time in an activity will always look better than a bunch of activities with no quality. For example, showing up to a bunch of club meetings or being on many club rosters is not impressive. However, spending a lot of time on one activity shows dedication and passion.
- Step up. After you have found your passion and activities you enjoy, do more. This may mean running for a leadership role or leading an activity for the club. Attending meetings is great, but stepping up and leading others can make an applicant more desirable to admissions officers. In addition to being impressive, a leadership role can tell the admissions committee that you may want to continue your involvement on the college campus.
- Academic focused activities. Students may want to consider participating in something that is related to the major they are considering. This could mean participating in an academic club, participating in a service project, or taking a job or internship with a company or organization that focuses on the discipline. In addition to helping students explore the discipline, it could help students in college admissions if they are applying to impacted majors. By doing more than just taking courses in the academic discipline, it could show the admissions committee you are serious about the major.
- Think outside of school too. Finding activities sponsored by your high school is easy. However, getting involved off campus is another way to practice your passion. There are many great organizations in your town or area that welcome volunteers. In addition, if there is a need somewhere that maybe others are not addressing, it is possible you could find a solution. Think outside the box and make a difference.
- Jobs count too. For some reason many students do not see a part-time job as an extracurricular activity and do not list it on their college applications. However, any job, including jobs in fast food and retail, can be impressive to admissions committees. Holding a job can show dedication, responsibility, and maturity.
While a lot goes into college admissions decisions, extracurricular activities can push an applicant over the top. Start early and find your passion! Extracurricular activities should not be a chore, but something you enjoy. Choosing the right activities can help in college admissions and enrich your life.