How Can Extracurriculars Help Your College Applications?
Find your passion
Student Government. Debate Team. Academic Decathlon. 4-H Club. FIRST Robotics Competition. Seinfeld Club. Extracurricular activities are the cornerstone of the high school experience, and there are many positives about being more involved in your school. It isn’t just a great way to enhance your time in high school by improving your academic and interpersonal skills, but it can also get you scholarships and can certainly pique the interest of college administrators! But if you want to think about what to participate in and how to increase your chances for getting into good colleges, there are some things worth considering.
For one, don’t choose groups willy nilly. A place like Stanford is probably more interested in big name organizations like the Decathlon or the Debate Team, and might not be as impressed if they see “Yu-Gi-Oh! Club” on your applications, which is frankly their loss but it’s an unfortunate reality.
Secondly, play to your strengths. You’re obviously a smart cookie. You know a thing or two about a thing or two, but don’t join a club that you’ve got no interest in and/or will probably not succeed in. Be honest with yourself and consider your options! I know from experience, I remember I thought it would be a good idea to join this group called the “Science Bowl” when I was a freshman cause it sounded smart and I wanted a challenge. You read that right. I had absolutely NO BUSINESS being in that group. During my weeklong incumbency I was delivered haymaker after haymaker of science-y knowledge way beyond my level of understanding, and when Friday came around and I said to myself “OH MY GOD I’VE GOTTA GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE!!” That Science Bowl chewed me up and spit me out like a piece of gum and there wasn’t a force in the world that could’ve knocked me back into coherence. Don’t make that mistake!
Even if you’re not shooting to get into an Ivy League school, don’t disregard extracurriculars. One of the most attractive aspects of good groups are scholarships! This is probably no surprise to anyone, but college can be obnoxiously expensive, especially during these dismal times the need to be economical has rarely been so necessary. You should earn as much money as you can, and with extracurriculars you could potentially earn up to $10,000!
Now, it’s usually the really competitive schools where extracurriculars really count. Of course, good grades are important too, but extracurriculars can showcase a side of you that cold hard test scores cannot. Through your extracurriculars, administrators can see what you’re passionate about, shed light on your career goals, where you’d fit into their undergraduate programs, and can see all kinds of qualities of leadership, teamwork, volunteering, and more. Those qualities are what prestigious schools are interested in, so the more activities you have under your belt, the better (but don’t overwhelm yourself).
Success in school and extracurriculars go almost hand in hand. They can build everlasting friendships, strong leadership, and collaborative skills, and improve your chances of getting into college. Hopefully, you won’t approach extracurriculars as a thorn in your side, as something you have to do to get into college. One of the best moments of my high school experience was playing soccer with my friends. You should take extracurriculars seriously, but when it comes down to it, extracurriculars are supposed to be a break from the monotony of your schoolwork. So enjoy them and have fun!
— Connor Broderick, Content Writing Intern
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