Extracurricular activities, also referred to as extracurriculars, include athletics, student government, volunteer work, employment, the arts, hobbies, and academic clubs, among many others. Each of these extracurricular pursuits enhances a formal education and allows students to explore their interests in new contexts.
Although some of these activities, like high school programs, can be designed for younger age groups, that isn’t always the case. For instance, your teen could work part-time or volunteer with a nearby nonprofit. Most universities, particularly selective ones, seek out students who are “well-rounded.” Gaining cross-community exposure certainly helps create a more balanced personal perspective.
“Well-rounded” also implies that in addition to meeting prerequisites for grades and test scores, students must also demonstrate personal skills and interests in their application. You can influence admissions officers positively by having a solid extracurricular resume. The variety of activities available might astound you!
What are Extracurricular Activities?
Almost any activity you engage in outside of school is technically “extracurricular.” These activities often include clubs, jobs/internships, athletics, music, and volunteer work. Colleges learn more about you as a person through extracurricular activities. For instance, what are your interests? How steadfast are you?
At this early stage, however, it’s crucial to remember that not all hobbies qualify as growth-oriented extracurricular activities. For instance, viewing movies or playing video games would not be included. Leisure activities you engage in for pure enjoyment do not qualify as collegiate extracurriculars since they don’t demand a concentrated effort on your part or contribute to your personal growth. You may, on the other hand, list activities like starting an after-school movie club where you and the other members watched and discussed films or deciding to create video games on your own time.
Why Are Extracurriculars Important?
While extracurricular activities are vital to most schools, the top 250 colleges and universities place a specific emphasis on them. Extracurricular activities help you stand out because too many academically talented students apply to these 250 or so schools.
No matter where you apply, having extracurricular activities listed on your resume helps you create a strong application that develops a complete view of the kind of person you are. Their choice of whether or not to accept you into their university may depend on these factors. As long as your passion and commitment to the subjects you care about are shown in your well-rounded profile, these qualities would make you a wonderful addition to their student body.
Extracurricular activities can assist in showcasing your commitment to and interest in your prospective major and your other interests. This may be especially relevant for pre-med students, since you must demonstrate an interest in the profession. Listing your involvement in a medical club or volunteer work at a hospital would demonstrate effort in that direction. What counts as extracurricular activities?
Many individual college applications and the common application combine extracurricular activities with volunteer work, community service, family commitments, and interests. Since honors are a form of achievement acknowledgment rather than an activity, they fall under a different category.
Examples of “extracurricular” activities are given in the list below (notice that many of the categories below overlap).
Arts include performing arts like theatre and music and visual and performing arts like painting and photography. Be aware that many college applications allow you to submit a sample of your creative work, whether it be a performance video, a sample of your creative writing, or a collection of your original artwork. Community service, assisting the elderly, event planning, community suppers, music and athletic activities sponsored by the church, and organizing or instructing at summer camps and retreats all count as community-based activities within your religion.
Clubs include chess, mathletes, debate, role-playing, language, film, skateboarding, diversity/minority, and many other organizations structured around team leadership and meetings.
Community involvement: Numerous activities are organized by the surrounding community, not the school—such as community theatre, city event planning, and local festival staffing.
Governance: Think of advisory boards, community youth boards, prom committees, student governments, and student councils. These activities are great for showcasing your potential as a leader.
Hobbies: Use your imagination. Even an unimportant interest in Rubik’s Cubes can be developed into a worthwhile extracurricular activity. Additionally, colleges are curious about your passion, whether rocketry, model railroads, collecting, blogging, or sewing. These pursuits all demonstrate your extracurricular interests; the key is to engage intellectually and earn recognition for your unique skills.
Local television, school radio or television, the yearbook staff, the school newspaper, literary journals, blogging and online journaling, the local newspaper, and any other endeavor that results in a television program, motion picture, or publishing all fall under the category of media (online or print).
Military: drill teams, junior ROTC, and associated events.
Chorus, the band (marching, jazz, symphonic, concert, pep), orchestra, ensembles, and solos are all included in music. These musical ensembles may be from your group or solo efforts and your school, church, or neighborhood.
Sports include basketball, volleyball, track, gymnastics, dance, lacrosse, swimming, soccer, skiing, cheerleading, and many others. During the early stages of the admissions process, if you are a highly accomplished athlete, be careful to research the recruiting policies of your top preference universities, such as building hiking trails, Adopt-a-Highway, and any other work that benefits the world without payment.
Work or employment. Don’t worry if, like many students, you work a job that prevents you from participating in many extracurricular activities. Instead, by focusing on the future and meeting professional consultants, you still have a chance to navigate through your ultimate journey. After all, colleges and universities are aware of this difficulty; therefore, it won’t necessarily be to your detriment. There are numerous explanations for why colleges favor applicants with prior work experience. For starters, you’ve probably developed teamwork skills and shown that you are reliable and accountable. Leadership qualities are also developed in many vocations.
What extracurricular activities do I need?
The truth is that each of these activities has the potential to impress universities. This is a question that many pupils ponder. Your accomplishments and the extent of your commitment are much more important than the activity itself. You’ve made a good choice if your extracurricular activities demonstrate that you are passionate about something outside the classroom. Better still if they demonstrate your accomplishments. Athletics, theatre, music, and volunteer work—there are numerous ways to enter a prominent university.
So which extracurricular activities are the best? The bottom line is that having depth and leadership in a few activities is preferable to having a superficial scattering of a dozen. Put yourself in the position of the admissions office; they are seeking applicants who will make significant contributions to the school community. From this perspective, the best submissions demonstrate the applicant’s meaningful commitment to an activity. Consider the impression that your extracurricular activities give of you. What else besides your academic achievements do you bring to the campus?
How Do Colleges Evaluate Extracurricular Activities?
Extracurricular activities account for 20–30% of the weight given to college applicants. Given that many institutions are adopting test-optional policies, extracurricular activities will play a bigger role in the all-encompassing admissions process.
Keep admissions officers from questioning the validity of your actions. Jot down a record of your major time commitments, and save a final copy. The accurate and confirmed digital credentials for your volunteer and shadowing work will boost your credibility.
Use Extracurricular Activities to Plan for Your College Application
With Empowerly, here are some actions to take now that you are aware of all your options:
- To obtain a complete list of sponsored activities offered at your student’s high school, speak with your school’s guidance counselor.
- Discuss your interests and career goals with your other students to discover an appropriate activity.
- Take part in multiple related extracurricular activities to demonstrate a depth of interest. Get them engaged in spring and winter sports, for instance, if you currently play a fall sport. Alternatively, if you play in the marching band, you might be able to join the jazz band as well.
- Limit your commitment! You might wish to participate in every thrilling and fun choice available. When juggling your academic and other commitments, be mindful of the time you have available.
Students have a platform to express themselves outside of the classroom through extracurricular activities. Students can participate in endeavors that provide them delight, difficulties, social stimulation, and more through sports, art, music, volunteering, and more. Ideally, students can take a vacation from the pressures of high school academics and recharge by engaging in activities they truly like, as well.
If you’re aiming for top schools, the bar is already high. Therefore your extracurricular activities must demonstrate achievement through nominations for leadership roles, awards, prizes, and other recognition. Beyond that, it can be in any area of interest, including organizations, sports, the arts, creative endeavors, entrepreneurship, and public service. Empowerly is the only place that will navigate your journey to top college with a 94% success rate.
Extracurricular activities are just the tip of the iceberg in how a private college counselor can help your student grow. They may meet new acquaintances and participate in activities they might not otherwise have, thanks to extracurricular activities. Participating in activities that make kids happy and fulfilled can improve their mental health and general well-being. The high school experience of pupils as a whole, as well as the college admissions process, heavily depends on extracurricular participation. For more, check our website and get empowered!