Getting involved in high school clubs, sports teams, and other pursuits outside the classroom comes with many benefits. For one, it helps you develop your talent and skills. It also allows you to make friends and learn more about yourself. And admit it, it’s a fun way to spend your time after school.
Your extracurricular activities even play a huge part in your life after high school. After all, it’s no secret that your essay and GPA in high school aren’t the only things that matter when applying for college. But what exactly are colleges look for on the extracurricular front? What will most impress college admissions officers? Here are some tips on how to ensure your extracurriculars make your application stand out:
Stick to one or two activities
Being involved in after-school activities is a good indication that you have dedication and passion. But the level of dedication matters. Colleges would rather see the depth of your involvement in one or two clubs rather than stare at a long list of extracurriculars you’ve done over the several years you’re in high school.
It can be more impressive if you’ve done theater for four years rather than joined the glee club for a year, debate team for another year, swimming team for the third year, and dance club in your last year. It would also be better if, over those four years, you transitioned from small roles to lead roles in theater. And you won’t get that progress if you didn’t spend several years learning all the skills the drama club could teach.
Align your activities with the college
If you are interested in many activities, how should you choose the one or two to focus on? Research about the colleges you want to apply to in the future. Find out the programs and scholarships they offer related to the extracurricular activities you’re interested in. Colleges aren’t merely looking for students with great extracurricular involvement—they are likely to accept applicants with meaningful after-school activities, talents, and skills that can be an asset to their institution.
If you have enrolled in many piano lessons and led the piano club in your high school, and your application essay discusses your desire to continue playing the piano in college, then make sure the school you’re applying to offers opportunities that match that activity. Or at least make sure the college puts a premium on music, being home to music organizations and holding events where you can perform.
Say yes to responsibilities
Taking more responsibilities in your sports club or music group in high school can impress admission officers. But keep in mind that leadership comes in various forms. It doesn’t only mean standing in front of members and barking orders every meeting. Leadership can also mean taking charge of the club fundraiser, designing the group’s website, being a section head in the band, or building theater sets. So, every time there’s a chance for you to take charge of a project or a simple but crucial task, take it.
Sometimes, the activity itself doesn’t matter much
If you wish to continue playing football or joining a marching band in college, then, again, you should align your extracurriculars with your target campus. Otherwise, the activity itself doesn’t matter much. Drama, music, dance, sports, arts—any of these can make your application outstanding. After all, most colleges want to accept a group of students with diverse passions and interests. What’s more important is, as mentioned, your level of dedication or involvement and your leadership skills that can be further honed.
As you prep for college, keep these tips in mind to ensure your extracurriculars pay off well. Remember, colleges look for students who aren’t only smart and excellent but are also dedicated and passionate.