Colleges today are more selective than ever, and admissions officers are looking for students who stand out from the crowd. Students must prove that they’re more than just a high GPA or test scores. That means students must find creative ways to demonstrate their value as applicants.
Colleges want to see how you will challenge yourself in the future and whether your resume exhibits passion. To make your application stand out, think of activities as your resume and work on showing colleges what makes you unique. Extracurricular activities show colleges what type of person you are beyond your test scores and GPA—and also demonstrate to them that you care about something other than academics.
To get into college and succeed once you’re there, you must participate in as many activities as possible. It doesn’t matter what these activities are; what matters is the message they send when admissions officers read your application.
Do Colleges Look at Your Extracurricular Activities?
First and foremost, yes, colleges look at your extracurricular activities. For many colleges, your extracurricular activities are your application essay. They’re the first thing admissions officers see on your application and can make or break your chances of getting accepted to top-tier schools. Your extracurricular activities are the first thing colleges use to judge your potential and determine if you’re a good fit for their school.
Even if you don’t have enough activities to fill up an entire page of your application, you should still make sure to include them. If you have zero extracurricular activities listed on your application, you could run into a problem that keeps you from getting accepted to a community college.
How Much Do Extracurricular Activities Actually Matter?
This question often depends on the type of institution you are applying to. While extracurricular activities matter, it’s impossible to say precisely how much. Every college has a different level of importance for extracurricular activities on their applications, so it’s impossible to say which colleges care about them the most.
This makes it particularly hard to predict how much your extracurricular activities will affect your chances of getting accepted to a particular college. Your extracurricular activities might play a massive role in your application, or admissions officers might entirely ignore them.
Colleges primarily focused on building a strong community will place a lot of value on extracurricular activities. For example, suppose you plan to attend a public or community college. In that case, your extracurricular activities will likely matter more than they would if you were applying to an Ivy League university. At more elite institutions, extracurricular activities can count, but they aren’t as crucial as at less selective schools.
What Kind of Extracurricular Activities is Best for College?
Colleges look at various aspects of your application to decide whether you will be an excellent addition to their school. One of these is the variety and quality of activities you participated in during high school. These activities, including sports, clubs, and societies, are examples of extracurricular activities.
Colleges believe participating in extracurricular activities shows their applicants’ commitment, leadership potential, and passion. Below is a list of best extracurricular activities for college applications.
Leadership Work and Positions
Plenty of extracurricular activities help you develop skills that look fantastic on a college application. You might consider joining your school’s student government or the debate team. These are both excellent ways to build leadership skills. If you’re unsure how to get involved in one of these, ask a teacher or a mentor, or check out your school’s student government website.
Many schools host conferences and other events that are open to the public, so don’t be shy about attending. If you want to focus on leadership, make sure you’re running the show. You don’t want to join an organization and be a yes-man. Make sure you’re doing the actual work and taking on real responsibility.
Academic Clubs and Teams
Joining a math club, a robotics team or a debate club is a fantastic way to show colleges that you’re the kind of person who loves learning and isn’t afraid to challenge yourself. These clubs and teams are great ways to show that you’re not just good at partying or hanging out.
You’re a person who wants to challenge yourself and learn, and you’re willing to put in the extra effort to do so. Academics are always a great way to show colleges that you’re a hard worker who doesn’t mind spare time to learn.
Artistic and Creative Pursuits
Colleges like to see students who aren’t just academically driven. Colleges look for people who are creative and artistic. If you’re more artistically inclined, consider joining a theater club, a band, or a creative writing club. Joining an art club is a great way to show colleges that you appreciate creative pursuits. Even joining a photography club is a great way to show colleges that you appreciate the art form of capturing a moment in time.
You can also consider taking a few art classes. It’s a great way to show that you’re not just interested in the art but also the technique behind it. It’s a great way to show colleges that you’re not just artistically inclined but also appreciate the work behind it.
Volunteering and Community Service
If you’ve found a cause you’re passionate about, volunteering is a great way to show colleges that you aren’t just sitting around watching Netflix with your friends. Volunteering is a fantastic way to show colleges that you care about others and are not selfish. If you’ve got a passion for a particular cause, like learning about endangered animals or taking care of children, consider working at a local shelter or wildlife center.
It’s a great way to show colleges that you’re not just interested in helping out the community but also dedicated to a cause you’re passionate about. It’s an excellent way to show colleges you have a strong work ethic.
If you’ve got a few hours of free time and are interested in a particular career path, consider looking for an internship related to your major. You’re not just joining extracurricular activities to show colleges that you’re interested in a particular field. You’re also learning valuable skills you can use in the future.
Internships are a fantastic way to show colleges that you’re not just interested in a field but also in learning the skills necessary to succeed in that field. If you’re interested in political work, consider working on a campaign. If you’re interested in sports medicine, consider working at a local athletic facility.
While not all colleges will consider part-time jobs, some do. If you’re working part-time, ensure it is relevant to your courses or extracurricular activities. Working as a cashier at a grocery store might not apply to your passions and interests, but working as an assistant to a political candidate is.
If you’re working part-time, ensure the job is relevant and doesn’t take away from your extracurricular activities or school work.
How to Choose the Right Extracurriculars for You?
Extracurriculars are a great way to keep your mind active and meet exciting people. They can be a fantastic addition to your resume, too. It’s essential to remember that different extracurriculars will appeal to other people. Some may not be the best fit for you, despite how much you love them.
You should consider the activities you enjoy most, what you stand to gain from participating in each of them, and if they align with your long-term plans or goals. These tips will help you choose the right extracurriculars for you:
Identify Your Interests
Before you choose extracurriculars, you should start by identifying your interests. This will help you determine which activities make the most sense. What are your interests? What are your hobbies? What topics do you like to read about? It’s important to note that you might be interested in something but have no desire to pursue it or vice versa.
How do you discover your interests? Think back to your childhood or even early teens. What made you excited? What made you keep reading about it? What did you spend a lot of time doing? Keep in mind that interests can change over time; however, they can give you a general idea of what you might be interested in.
Assess Your Options
Next, you should assess your options. Make a list of extracurriculars that interest you. When looking at each activity, think about what you stand to gain from it. This will help you decide which activity is suitable for you. What do you want to get out of each extracurricular? What goals do you hope to achieve? Are there any extracurriculars that might help you with your future career plans?
Take a step back and think about what you want in the future. This will help you narrow down your list of potential activities.
Go Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Going outside of your comfort zone is a great way to discover what extracurriculars are a good fit for you. What activities do you think you might enjoy but have never tried? What are some extracurriculars that interest you but are outside of your usual realm of experience? What is something you have always wanted to try but never have?
Going outside of your comfort zone can help you discover new interests and skills that you never knew you had. You can then use that knowledge to decide which extracurriculars are a good fit for you. What do you want to gain from each extracurricular? What skills do you hope to acquire?
Look for Ways to Grow Your Involvement
Once you have narrowed down your list of potential extracurriculars, look for ways to grow your involvement. What can you do to make yourself a more attractive candidate for each one? How can you prepare yourself to be successful in each activity? What skills can you develop? How can you improve your experience? Can you take a class to learn a new skill?
Can you do an independent project to practice what you’ve learned? Can you volunteer for an organization that uses the skill you want to develop? These are all great ways to demonstrate your passion and dedication.
Assess How You Have Changed
Lastly, assess how you have changed since you started researching extracurriculars. What do you like and dislike about each activity? What do you hope to gain from each extracurricular? How have your goals and interests changed since the beginning of your search? How do your strengths and weaknesses affect your choices? These are all critical questions to consider.
Wrapping Things Up: Do Extracurricular Activities Matter for College?
Do extracurricular activities matter for college? Extracurricular activities matter for college. They matter for the same reason that high school sports matter; they’re a way for you to demonstrate your strengths, interests, and career goals. While extracurricular activities don’t directly affect your GPA, they can help you stand out as a candidate.
Colleges want to see how you will challenge yourself in the future and whether your resume exhibits passion. Taking part in as many activities as possible gives admissions officers a better picture of who you are as a person and what you’re capable of achieving.