The chances of getting into a great college are getting tougher and tougher, as the stress of receiving a “dream school” invitation is becoming a great concern to students from all over the country.
Many colleges and universities are no longer looking for only the basic grades and test scores, but of the students who show dedication, leadership, and passion in extracurricular activities. In other words, it is what you do outside of the classroom, such as a sport, club, or position in student government.
Though extracurricular activities may sound like a burden, choosing the right kind of activity can make the experience fun and enjoyable. Here are some tips:
Start with your simple interests and hobbies.
There are many ways to get involved by first zoning in on what you love to do. After all, the easiest way to stick with an activity is all about being happy with what you’re doing. Take the time to think about what you enjoy and if that enjoyment will stay with you in the future. Do you like reading, writing, or poetry? How about playing a sport, or doing anything outdoors? Making a list would be very helpful in keeping your ideas organized and ready for the next step.
Remember to keep an open mind! Don’t discard an idea because you think it isn’t good enough. There are no bad interests as long as they are important to you.
Now it’s time to build off of those interests and brainstorm ways to get involved.
This may be a bit more challenging at first, so take some time – perhaps a few days – to research and come up with activities that may suit you. The goal is to find something that can easily fit into your academic schedule, as well as be a fun experience for you to enjoy.
Here are some examples of hobbies that a few peers of mine turned into great extracurricular activities:
Working and Volunteering:
Although you’ve probably heard of this repeatedly throughout the years, working and volunteering can build great skills that show colleges the importance of getting a wage or helping others. In fact, even unconventional jobs such as babysitting and dog walking count as a work or volunteer opportunity that would be great on an application. With this in mind, a few friends were able to start their own “business” of dog walking through asking around the local neighborhood. They even got to choose the hours, which made it easier to balance school life with the various jobs.
This falls along my category, as I have always been fascinated by the writing process and saw a desire to learn more about good techniques in writing. Being in a rural area, there were little opportunities to go out and apply for a local newspaper, since any form of business was too far away (other than the grocery store). Doing some research, I found multiple sites looking for writers and decided to apply to a few that caught my eye (as this was literally my only option). A few accepted and I was able to work from home, which proves that you don’t need to travel in order to accomplish an activity.
Another very easy way to work on an activity in is through the art of photography. We all find the time to take a picture of an event we want to remember and can be a very efficient way in starting a new extracurricular, as my friend found out. She decided that creating an Instagram for her photography was a simple way to do something outside of school. To take it a step further, she made her work very professional and gained a strong following because of it.
These are just a few examples. You could also join a club, babysit, or even train for a marathon. It’s really up to you!
Once figuring out what you enjoy, try and stay with your activities.
If you have volunteered at the local animal shelter for a week, this doesn’t produce an activity that you have worked hard at. Colleges look for a student who shows drive in what they are doing outside of school. Turning this little hobby into something that can show passion for the college admissions team will be a big advantage in getting into a great school.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to stick with one thing throughout your high school career. People grow, and so you may want to change your old activity into something that suits you better now. This is perfectly normal, and colleges expect it! You can put multiple activities on the application because of this, as we all know that people mature and tend to grow into liking new things.
The final and one of the more fun tips is showing your well-deserved recognition on an application.
This is the stage where you get to explain what these activities meant and how they shaped you as a person. Simply stating “getting a job at my local grocery store” or “volunteering for a couple hours at Habitat for Humanity” shows the basics of your activity but describing “how volunteering for Habitat for Humanity taught me the importance of helping others” is what the admissions team is searching for. After all, colleges want a student that can enrich their campus with whatever they’re dedicated toward, so you must show your passion.
Enjoy the fun of taking part in extracurricular activities!
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