Extracurricular Activities — What You Need to Know for College Admissions

Aug 21, 2014 by

As the school year begins, it’s important to get involved in activities that are outside of your required academic curriculum. The benefits of taking part in extracurricular activities are enormous: Increased self-confidence, leadership opportunities, development of social skills, and higher academic performance, just to name a few. From a college admissions standpoint, you should know that it’s an important part of the admissions formula.

College admissions officers look favorably on students who take part in extracurricular activities. But how do admission officers evaluate a student’s involvement in the extracurricular activities he or she joins? In five key ways:

  1. Commitment—Does the student show dedication, follow-through, and the ability to complete the activities he or she joins? Also, is he or she passionately committed to a few activities or loosely committed to many? Being passionate about something is what’s important.
  2. Depth of involvement—How involved is the student in the activities he or she joins? Just being a passive member shows minimal involvement, but actively contributing and getting measurable results is what will matter when it comes to the college admissions process.
  3. Meaningful Contributions—Is the student making a meaningful impact and going beyond what’s required? It’s important that you take an active role and contribute passionately in the activities you join.
  4. Leadership—Is the student taking on some type of leadership role? Becoming a leader will allow you to develop important character-building qualities that are directly applicable to the “real world”. College admissions officers know this and seek out leaders among the pool of college applicants.
  5. Honors/Awards—Is the student showcasing his or her success in the activities he or she joins by earning honors and awards? Honors or awards can include Most Improved or Valuable Player, Student of the Month or Student of the Year, or AP Scholar. Earning honors and awards shows success in the areas you are involved in and highlights your commitment and dedication.

Getting involved in extracurricular activities is an important part of your college planning strategy. Choose activities that you are passionate about, become committed and try to really get involved. Additionally, make meaningful contributions, become a leader, and earn honors and awards, as this will all greatly impact your ability to earn an acceptance into the college of your choice.

– Jeff Haig of Irvine is the founder of Strategic College Consulting and is a college planning expert. He helps schools, families and organizations through the college admissions and financial planning process.

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