How to Use Extracurriculars to Boost Your College Applications

on November 21, 2016

Grades and test scores are not the only criteria college admissions counselors look at when considering your college application. Extracurricular activities may also get you noticed. Colleges want a well-rounded freshman class and these activities are the best way to show off your personality. Colleges are not looking for participation in specific activities, but rather how you utilized your time with each activity.

Colleges are impressed by the quality of your extracurricular activities, not the quantity. Depth matters more than breadth. It is better to be deeply involved in a few activities, rather than superficially involved in many.

When college admissions officers say they want a well-rounded class, they don’t want well-rounded students. Rather, each student should excel in a different area, so that the diversity of interests will contribute to a vibrant college community. After all, if everybody at a college was captain of the math team, lettered in a sport and played the oboe, wouldn’t that be a bit boring? College campuses, like an orchestra, are composed of many different instruments.

You should pick just two or three activities and maximize your time in those activities. Stay with your chosen activities long enough to hold a leadership position or make a difference within the activity. A student’s demonstrated initiative may help their college application stand out amongst others.  

Although you should not be involved in a laundry list of extracurriculars, there should be some variety among the ones you do choose. A good rule of thumb is to get involved an academic activity, a community-based activity and an activity that aligns with your personal hobbies or interests.

  • Academic activities should be related to what you’d like to study in college. For example, if you will want to study journalism, it’d be in your best interest to join your high school’s student newspaper. Colleges want to see that you are passionate about your chosen field. Students who are passionate about their major will be more likely to succeed in college and make a difference in their field one day.
  • Being involved in a community-based activity shows that you are a concerned and caring citizen. Some sort of volunteer work demonstrates initiative, dedication and perseverance. Colleges find these traits desirable, since they want to select students who bring value to the campus community and who will continue to make a difference in the world beyond graduation.
  • If your schedule allows it, join an activity that interests you on a personal level. There is more to you than what major you decide to pursue, so this is your opportunity to show colleges what makes you tick. Colleges love students who excel in academics, but they want to create a community full of students with well-rounded interests.

Overall, just be sure the activities you participate in show some sort of personal development. Colleges want to see that you learned something, contributed to something or reached some sort of goal. As long as you chose your extracurriculars strategically and use your time within them wisely, these activities will boost your odds of college admission!.

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