Now that it’s time to start thinking about the college admissions process, it’s important to consider what you’ll need to put on applications as well. The college application process can seem daunting, but high school students can prepare themselves in a fun way--by including the fun student activities you were involved in during high school.
Activities are so important they are one of the seven sections included on the Common App
When it comes to your participation experiences, you don’t want to leave blank space! Use your time wisely to ensure that you’ll have activities to put down. Keep in mind, however, that colleges are aware when you add a ton of extracurriculars your junior or senior year.
Try to keep your participation limited to activities you actually enjoy and will keep pursuing – don’t just participate to have something on your application.
It’s better to choose what you love, so you’ll benefit from the experience in more ways than just your application word count. Also letters of recommendation will be important your senior year; a lot of students ask their club-sponsor teacher and their coach to write about their involvement and growth. This is a great way to fill two needs with one deed!
Here are different types of extracurricular activities that colleges actually
want to see. With a little something for everyone, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy!
Impressive Extracurricular Activities:
What activities do you consider to be most important?
Colleges are impressed by students with leadership skills. What better way to demonstrate such skills than holding a position in student government? It’s a great way to participate in school matters, show you’re both capable and responsible and that other students look up to you.
- Student Government
Joining an academic club or team shows that you’re passionate about learning and gaining a competitive advantage. When it comes to rigorous academics, you don’t shy away but, rather, embrace a challenge.
Whether your subject preference is math, science or any other focus, demonstrating your love for learning is always in your favor.
- Academic Teams and Clubs
Students on the debate team are more likely to be engaged in the issues of today, able to think critically on their feet and are not afraid to speak out – all qualities that colleges look for in prospective students.
Also, students that participate on debate teams are often outspoken within class, leading classmates into thoughtful discussions.
- The Debate Team
Creativity is always an asset when it comes to college applications. Students active in creative arts, like music, drama and visual arts tend to be open-minded, eccentric and think outside of the box. These qualities add to campus life, which is a bonus in the eyes of a college admissions officer.
- The Arts
Obtaining an internship while in high school is impressive any way you slice it. An internship shows you’re capable, dedicated and mature enough to enter the work force. Demonstrating such qualities in turn allows college admissions officers to assume you’ll be more than capable of handling heavier course loads and actively participating in your curriculum, since you’ve already demonstrated initiative.
With all of the focus on anti-bullying campaigns and acceptance of others, colleges value students active in promoting diversity and culture now more than ever before. Such clubs demonstrate your willingness to learn about and accept others, while creating awareness for those who may be different from you.
It also reveals that you have compassion for others and the strength of character to speak up for what you believe in.
- Culture Clubs
Most colleges consider some form of volunteer work or community service a must-have for all applicants. The best way to gain volunteer experience is to consider the activities you enjoy and find a way to apply them into your service hours.
For example, if you enjoy art, volunteer at a local children’s center to help kids with their creative processes. If you love to play music, volunteer to play at a local senior center.
Are you a sports fanatic? Coach your local little league team. An animal lover? Shelters are always in need of great volunteers.
There are so many easy ways to apply whatever you love to helping out in your community – just think creatively!
- Volunteer Work and Community Service
Being published in any form – whether it’s the student newspaper or another form – is an impressive accomplishment. Most college courses require writing as a basic skill and being published demonstrates you’re not only capable of writing, but actually good at it. Mastering this critical college skill looks great on your application because it shows that you’re active outside of the classroom in an activity that will translate to the likelihood of academic success in college courses.
- The Student Newspaper
If you’re concerned about your lack of extracurricular activities because of your job, don’t be. Colleges know that many students don’t have the luxury of participating in extracurricular activities because they must work to help support their families.
- A Part-time Job
Participating in sports is a great way to showcase your teamwork, leadership skills and that you place an emphasis on athletics and physical fitness. While athletics are a platform to demonstrate these important traits, it is common for students to participate in them and may not hold as much significance as when balanced with other activities.
As with anything in life, balance is very important to keep in mind. It’s ideal to try to choose activities from different categories, both social and academic, so that colleges are able to see your wide range of talents and strong character traits.
All of your effort can be applied to student financial aid opportunities in the future. We're talking essay prompts within a scholarship or institutional merit scholarships based upon club or sport team involvement!