For all age groups, extracurricular activities play a key role both in allowing students to develop their interests, hobbies, and talents outside of the classroom and provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate commitment and passion over time to decision-makers in college admissions offices. Universities review far more qualified applicants than they could ever hope to offer acceptance; one thing that helps differentiate a qualified student from an accepted student is the resume that he/she submits with the application. Extracurricular activities give a more complete picture of a student than test scores and GPA could ever achieve. For this reason, when choosing extracurricular activities, it is best to remember that what one chooses to do with his/her free time is one of the greatest indications of what that person values in life.
As a Freshman in high school, it is perfectly natural to want to participate in a variety of activities outside of the classroom. Our best advice is to choose several activities that you are passionate about rather than trying to pursue the correct extracurricular activities to strengthen your resume. Your overall goal should be to begin to develop yourself as a well-rounded student with distinct passions. A person who can one day contribute in a positive manner to both a college campus and to society as a whole is a person that colleges want to accept. For most students, it is very easy to identify a few activities, clubs, or sports for which they have an interest – freshman year is the time to explore those things that you think you might be fond of, so that you can figure out what it is that you are really passionate about. If there is something that you feel really strongly about for which there is not a club on campus, reach out to the administration at your school. Most schools have a policy in place for allowing students to create new clubs if they can meet minimum membership requirements and partner with a member of the faculty to act as the club’s sponsor. What better way to show your passion for something than to start your very own club!
By sophomore and junior year as academics become more rigorous and free time is more restricted, most students become more selective with their activities. Showing real commitment to a limited number of activities over time is actually considered stronger on a resume than being superficially involved in every club or sport on campus. Once you have identified some areas that you feel strongly about, go for it and commit! Colleges love to see that a student can show dedication to something over time. This is especially true for activities that allow you to help others, challenge yourself, or learn in a real-world environment. For example, if you are a soccer player who loves kids and is considering a job in teaching one day, being a member of your school’s soccer team, helping coach a youth soccer league at your church, and volunteering at a soccer camp for young players each summer shows your commitment to your sport, your commitment to your community, and your enthusiasm for working with children. These three things in combination with one another have a synergistic effect on the impression you leave not only with admission reps, but also with every member of your school community. Over time, this dedication will strengthen your resume while also allowing you to authentically follow your passions.
As students enter their senior year, more often than not, they have developed a strong passion and connection to one or more of their areas of interest. Hopefully, you have developed a relationship with one or more of your activities’ advisors or sponsors and will be able to ask for a letter of recommendation which speaks to your reliability and dedication. Remember, those activities that you choose to highlight in your application, essay, resume, and letters of recommendation should be those that you care deeply about and that indicate what is most important to you as both a student and as a person. Throughout the previous three years of high school, you have worked to develop a narrative about yourself that will be intriguing and appealing to those who make decisions about college applications. Senior year is the time to be yourself and let the well-rounded person that you have become shine for the world to see. When you complete your college applications, your goal is to combine the total skills you have learned throughout the years to leave the best impression possible on those who review your submission with a combination of strong academic performance, test scores, and a polished resume that shows your dedication to your passions. For more information on how to improve any of these areas, check out our blogs sections or give us a call to set up a meeting with an SAOTG coach!