When you apply for college, admissions officers look at your accomplishments as a student—your grades, GPA, standardized test scores, and class rank. But did you know they also look at what you do outside of academics? Extracurricular activities, or your pursuits in addition to your schoolwork, are also weighed during the admissions process. How you spend your time outside of the classroom can demonstrate your leadership abilities, teamwork skills, dedication, responsibility, and initiative, giving an admissions officer a sense of who you are, including your traits and interests.
When choosing an extracurricular activity, go for what you’re passionate about. Is there a particular cause that you feel strongly about and can volunteer your time to? Are you active and have a favorite sport? Or do you love the arts and enjoy performing in front of a captivated audience? There are many activities to choose from that will challenge you and help you to develop new skills. Some of the most popular activities include:
- Sports (including Esports)
- Clubs, including drama, art, science, math, and foreign language
- Music, including band and choir
- Student government
- Debate team
- Model UN
Whether you choose an activity that is fun, builds toward a career, or contributes to the community, there is something for everyone. If you’re unsure which activity to pursue, talk with your guidance counselor or a family member. They can help you explore your options and find a great fit for you. No matter what you choose, you are opening the door to new friendships, skills, and opportunities. Plus, you’re adding even more reasons for the college of your choice to choose you as a new student.
Including Extracurricular Activities on Your College Application
Once you start applying for college, there are a few ways to make your extracurricular activities stand out. Usually, there is a dedicated section to list your activities, but you can really showcase your experiences through your personal essay. Describe your involvement, as well as the influence they’ve had on you and what you learned. You can also submit letters of recommendation from teachers or coaches who witnessed your participation and can attest to your dedication and skills. Whichever way you choose to include your activities in your application, remember to be specific, honest, positive, and concise. Explain what you did and be careful not to exaggerate your involvement or accomplishments.
Most importantly, spend your time doing something you enjoy and adds fulfillment to your life. You don’t need to stretch yourself thin creating a robust list of activities you’re involved in. Dedicating your time consistently to one or two activities and being open to learning from them can be rewarding and will help set you apart when you apply for college.
For more resources and information on preparing for college, visit the K12 College Prep Center.