In the process of applying to colleges, high school students typically include their test scores, grades, and extracurriculars in their application.
Test scores and grades give college admissions officers the students’ stats, allowing them to decide whether or not the student is qualified to attend the school. But just being qualified to attend a certain school no longer guarantees admission.
One of the main determining factors for whether a student gets accepted or denied at a top school are the extracurriculars they pursued during their years in high school.
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A mistake that high school students often make is to do random things just to fill up the activities section of the common app. You don’t need to be in 7 after-school clubs, play 2 sports every season of the year, volunteer 30 hours every week, and have a part time job at a local grocery shop to impress top colleges. That’s not just unrealistic, it’s impossible.
In fact, doing all of those things probably won’t impress colleges at all because chances are you won’t be able to spend a lot of time or divert a lot of energy to each one of those activities. Without putting a lot of time and effort into an activity, it is going to be hard to see growth and to make a quantifiable impact.
Ultimately, colleges want to admit students that will one day change the world, and you are not going to show colleges that you will change the world by just showing up to after school meetings once in a while.
When it comes to extracurricular activities, your strategy should be to pursue a few activities that you are truly passionate about. You will find that you will actually grow as a person when you are participating in activities that you like. Try to positively impact your community and to really explore your passions and interests. Don’t just scratch the surface, dive real deep.
A good way to choose extracurriculars is to ask yourself two questions before you are committed to them. First ask: What impact will I be able to make in my community through this activity?
Then, ask yourself: What impact will this activity have on me?
Only commit to an activity when you like the answers to both of those questions.
That being said, there is no one activity that will guarantee admission to a particular college. Any activity can be a winning factor as long as you are showing colleges that you are passionate about what you do.
Alright, so choosing extracurriculars that you are really passionate about will increase your chances of admission into top schools, but what are the other benefits?
First, the obvious. If none of the courses that are offered at your school actually tune to your interests, extracurriculars are a great way to explore. If you have no idea what you want to do in your life, extracurriculars are one way to find out what interests you and what bores you. And maybe a high school extracurricular will lead to a successful career path.
Extracurriculars also allow you to peek into the professional world by teaching you skills that will actually apply in work situations. While school courses build your foundation in core subjects and teaches you time management skills, extracurriculars develop students’ networking skills by opening them up to new interactions.
Additionally, extracurricular activities present the unique chance to meet other students who have similar interests, widening the students’ social circle and opening them up to even more intriguing opportunities.
Remember, colleges aren’t looking for well-rounded students; they are looking to construct a well-rounded class. Depth always wins over breadth in the admissions office. Be sure to take advantage of extracurricular activities because the benefits of engaging in them go far beyond just impressing the admissions officer.