Extracurricular activities are an important element of the college application process. Colleges and universities are communities that provide opportunities both inside as well as outside of the classroom. Therefore, schools are looking for students who will volunteer in their communities, run student clubs, be involved in student government, play on sports teams, participate as members of orchestras and choirs, and be active members of the school community. The best way to anticipate whether students will take advantage of the extra-curricular activities at the collegiate level is to accept students who have been broadening their horizons and taking advantage of opportunities during their high school careers.
Pursuing activities you enjoy can also help relieve stress and provide welcome relief from studying. Many students who are heavily involved in activities say they find the time commitment helps them with time management for schoolwork since it requires good planning to fit in the activities alongside academics.
Here are some tips for making the most of your extra-curricular experiences.
1. Pursue interests you enjoy – Look for activities that you are interested in, since extra-curricular involvement should be an enjoyable experience. It’s fine to try out a number of new clubs/ activities earlier in high school (Grades 9 and 10/ Years 10 and 11) in order to explore interests and decide what you enjoy the most, and then stick with those.
2. Breadth vs depth – Get more deeply involved in a few activities for your last year or two of high school. Colleges are looking for depth of involvement in a few activities rather than membership in a multitude of clubs. If you’ve done a good job earlier on finding interests you enjoy, it should be exciting to get more deeply involved in those you enjoy the most.
3. Pursue leadership opportunities – There are lots of opportunities to take on leadership opportunities, even if you are not the head or president of a club. Taking on a leadership role related to one event, or suggesting a new project or event for a club, can be a great way to get some leadership experience.
4. Think about starting your own club – If you have a passion for something not offered at your school, think about starting your own club.
5. Look beyond your school – Volunteering through your church or in your local community, playing on a sports team through an independent organization, or acting in a play can all be done separately from school. It doesn’t matter where the activity is done, the important part is that you enjoy the experience and make the most of the time you devote to it.