Every high school graduate, who wants to be admitted to college or university, should dedicate plenty of time to their studies. However, it’s essential not to forget to take breaks and participate in hobbies and sports activities. Getting involved in extracurriculars is a perfect way to make your leisure time both fun and beneficial.
In this article, our experts have prepared a list of activities that can enhance your college application. Indeed, participation in various projects can increase your chances of being admitted to the program or university of your choice. There are also many benefits associated with them, as you’ll see below.
🌟 Why Extracurricular Activities Are Important
In this section, let’s answer the key question. What role do extracurricular activities play in a student’s personal and academic life?
There are three roles that make them necessary for you:
- Meeting new people. New acquaintances allow you to work on your social skills and make new friends. Being exposed to different people will, in a way, prepare you for your future life. Even in college, you’ll dive into an entirely new environment. Prior experience and communication skills can be vital in social situations.
- Getting a break from your studies. You must allow yourself to rest. This is particularly vital when you’re preparing for your finals and exams. Doing something delightful will enable you to get some much-needed headspace.
- Improving your college application. Do you want your application to stand out among hundreds of others? Then think about activities to do after classes while you’re a high schooler.
Hopefully, the following answers will help you understand the role extracurriculars play in your college application.
Do colleges care about high school extracurriculars at all?
There’s good evidence that extracurricular activities matter in the college admissions process. While they are not considered the most critical aspect, admissions officers still look at them.
Why are extracurriculars important for admission officers?
Extracurricular activities help admission officers put a face to your application. Your grades show how dedicated you were to your studies. Your after-school activities demonstrate your true passions and values. These activities make your application diverse and prove that you can multitask.
Here is the list of application features, in order of priority:
- GPA & Grades demonstrate your dedication and hard work. A good GPA score proves that you will do well in university. Thus, you should check how to calculate your GPA.
- The difficulty of high school courses will show the admissions team that you are ready to challenge yourself. The more complex your classes are, the more valuable your GPA score will be for admission officers.
- SAT/ACT scores are important too, but there is a recent trend to overlook them, especially at top colleges. Instead, SAT/ACT helps admission officers to interpret overall academic performance.
- Extracurriculars are taken into account after all the scores we’ve listed. What counts for the admission decision is the student’s involvement in a particular activity. Long-term interest in a hobby or project is more valuable than a huge variety of extracurriculars.
- College essays are essential for applicants. Such academic papers show your writing style and thoughts. They allow admission officers to find out more about your values and aspirations.
- Recommendation letters show additional information about an applicant. Look at it as a way to round out your application and further promote yourself.
- An interview can boost your overall odds. It can give you a competitive advantage over students who decide not to participate in it.
📍 Top 10 Perks of Extracurricular Activities
Not only do extracurriculars can help you with your college application process, but they also have other benefits. We’ve merely mentioned them in the previous section. Here, you’ll see all the reasons why you might find these activities useful. And if those aren’t enough, you can look through essay examples to see what students are saying themselves.
👍 Best Extracurriculars for College Applications
We have to be honest: not all extracurriculars are created equal. It means that you should be strategic and methodical to enhance your college application. Pottery may be a relaxing and creative hobby. Yet, your admission officer, for, let’s say, a law school application, will not be too impressed.
That’s why in the following sections of this article, we’ve explained what extracurricular activities you should choose to improve your application.
How to Select an Extracurricular Activity
Without a doubt, you need to look for an extracurricular activity that will improve your application. However, it is also crucial to choose one that speaks to your passions. After all, you will spend your precious leisure time on it.
When selecting extracurriculars, choose ones that serve the following purposes:
|Quality to Look for||Why It’s Crucial|
|Reflect on your sphere of academic interests.||Ideally, your extracurriculars should somehow reflect your academic interests. For instance, if you pursue a law degree, you can try to choose a debate club or volunteer at a shelter. This way, your extracurriculars and your academic interests match.|
|Demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm.||There is a difference between activities you do to impress others and the ones you do because you genuinely love them. Passion is needed if you want to succeed at anything. What can show your genuine interest? For example, doing the same hobby for several years. Or if you simultaneously attend several similar extracurriculars.|
|Reveal your desire to help your community.||People like listening to stories. So, try to turn your passions and hobbies into a tale of helping others. Ask yourself: how can I assist my community? What useful qualities can I work on while volunteering?|
|Show your leadership skills and/or creative thinking.||Your extracurricular activity should contribute to your self-improvement. For instance, a team sport can turn you into a leader. At the same time, a chess club can help you improve your creative thinking.|
Another question you may ask regarding the choice is:
How many extracurriculars is too many?
Some of the strongest applicants list around 8-10 activities. However, it is not about the number but about the commitment and dedication that you can demonstrate. You should show what a multidimensional person you are. Yet, the last thing you want is to appear that you don’t know what you truly want. Thus, 3-4 extracurricular activities are enough.
Your college application should reflect consistency and commitment. Some students will try to fit 20 extracurriculars into their resumes. However, it is better to demonstrate character with only a few extracurriculars. Reveal that you’re occupied with something for an extended period rather than squeeze in a variety of short-term hobbies.
List of Essential Extracurricular Activities
Finally, we can move to the list of extracurricular activities that can benefit you the most. In this section, we will explain what makes them great for your admission application.
The best extracurricular activities to include in your application are as follows:
- Debate teams.
Students on the debate teams are not going to be afraid to speak in public. They will also have a good grasp of multiple historical and political topics. These individuals usually take the lead in the class and shine with their critical thinking skills.
Some people believe that internships are only for college students. However, if you land and complete training during high school, it can enhance your application. Internships show that you are active and motivated. Additionally, you can get a recommendation letter from the place you completed your training at.
It is another way to enhance your application, even though some people might consider it’s cliché. Volunteer work is a great way to turn something you like into an extracurricular activity. If you love animals, work for a shelter. If you enjoy art, consider volunteering at a gallery. There are many ways in which you can use your passions and talents while helping your community.
Being a sport’s team member proves that you know how to be a team player. It also shows that you are committed to working hard to achieve your goal. School athletes have to follow directions to succeed. Thus, it is another positive aspect of playing sports for admission officers.
- Student council.
Another great way that can strengthen your application is joining the student council. It is an organization associated with your high school. There, you can focus on something relevant for students. Working in such an organization can be beneficial for your leadership and communication skills.
- School newspaper.
Writing is an essential skill that every university requires. Being published offline and online is a significant achievement for anyone. Having developed critical thinking and good writing skills can benefit your application. Besides, it prepares you for your university days.
- Part-Time Job.
Employment can keep you busy from other activities and even rest. However, it can create many opportunities to learn valuable life skills. Your experiences shape who you are. Thus, having a part-time job can demonstrate how mature you are. Believe it or not, most admission officers will appreciate your effort to balance full-time school with an occupation.
- Culture clubs.
Colleges value diversity and students that care about it. Culture clubs expose you to ideas, people, discussions that promote different views and values. It demonstrates your love for others, ability to foster dialogue, and acceptance of differences. For admission officers, it also tells a story about you. It is evidence of how strong you are because you are not afraid to stand for your beliefs.
These extracurricular activities are suitable for everyone regardless of the academic career you want to pursue. However, sometimes you need to emphasize certain qualities and skills required for your major and college.
|Skills to Highlight||Extracurriculars to Pick|
|Leadership Skills||Such skills are needed for careers in business and politics and any other job you can imagine. Being a good leader means motivating others. Colleges look for these types of individuals. For these skills, try debate teams, team sports, or other activities where you have to be a leader.|
|Creativity Skills||Creativity is an asset when applying for schools. It proves that you can be active, open-minded, and think outside the box. Admission officers look for students who can add color and creativity to campus life. Students involved in arts and culture clubs have these types of skills and abilities.|
|Technological Skills||Having extracurriculars that develop such skills means that you chose something challenging and educational. This experience can be helpful if you are planning to pursue a career in computer science, programming, electrical engineering, and many more. Look for tech communities and internships to join.|
⚖️ How to Balance Your Extracurriculars and Studies
We are fully convinced that many students try to figure the same question when they see their schedule. Extracurricular activities can take a lot of energy and time that you could spend studying or resting. However, it is not that hopeless! If you apply our tips, you will have enough time for studying, your extracurriculars, and rest.
And one more pro tip:
Your academic studies should always come first. No matter how much you like a particular club, activity, or sport, your grades should not suffer. It is essential you attend all your classes, have enough time for your homework and preparation. You should make sure that you make the most out of your education.
That’s it! Thank you so much for reading till the very end. Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to get involved in extracurricular activities for your college application. Share this article with your friends and other students who can find it useful.