Updated: Dec 14, 2021
What do you think of when you think of extracurriculars – sports? Dance? Band or choir? Extracurriculars can be those things, but they also include the debate club, student government positions, pottery, the student newspaper… the list is endless!
Admissions counselors are searching for students with well-rounded college applications. This means impressive academics, community involvement, and extracurricular activities. If you’re a little light on extracurriculars, good news: you have time to boost this part of your high school experience so you’ll have a better story to tell when you write your college admissions essays this summer and fall.
Even better news? Unlike some aspects of getting ready for college – like taking standardized tests – extracurriculars are meant to be fun! Here’s how to get the most out of them while rounding out that future college application in the process:
Be True to You. When choosing which extracurriculars to get involved in, it can be tempting to select the ones your friends are choosing. Before signing up, do a little research about the club or sport. Ask yourself what you find interesting. How do you like to spend your time?
If you’re an extrovert who likes big crowds, doesn’t mind being the center of attention, and feeds off the energy of others, you may want to check out the debate team, academic teams, or “running for office” as president of your class. These qualities are extremely valuable and will be easily recognized by college admissions counselors.
If you’re an introvert, meaning you’re quieter and more contemplative, look into the creative arts like music and visual arts. Students who engage in creative clubs tend to be compassionate and empathetic. Maybe you want to start a club that teaches younger kids about the creative process? Perhaps you want to volunteer to play chess at a local senior club? These qualities are also highly desirable for admissions counselors, as introverts represent their campus’s future peacekeepers and deep thinkers.
Be a Leader. If you’re in sports, challenge yourself to step up into leadership roles and have a voice among your classmates and teammates. One way to show leadership is by example. Choose to include younger athletes in practice or conversation. Show up to practice or class on time, and do the hard work even when you don’t want to. By challenging yourself, you’ll inspire others to challenge themselves. Most students and teammates want someone to look up to as an example of what good sportsmanship and leadership looks like. As a junior, you have the perfect opportunity to display that to your peers.
Make it Count. Some extracurriculars can help you boost other categories that are important in the college application process. For example, your participation in a gardening club could include a community involvement component, where you plant a garden at a local senior citizens center. Another example: being in theatre club can help you get outside of your comfort zone and interact with others, which will absolutely help in the college admissions process, particularly during interviews.