Admissions

3 Tips for Choosing Extracurriculars in High School

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When applying to college, your high school grades and the rigor of your course load are essential. And if you want to stand out from the crowd, extracurriculars can really give you a leg up. However, that doesn't just mean that you should join every club out there just because you think it's what an admissions officer wants to see. Here are three important things to consider before taking on any new activities.


Don't Sacrifice Quality for Quantity

Have you ever tried to commit to something you really don't enjoy? Give yourself every opportunity to succeed by dedicating your after-school hours to projects that excite you. Don't give up on your dreams of, say, playing on the school basketball team, because that would conflict with your ability to sign up for Model UN and Debate Club. Be especially sure that you're not making your decision based on what you think might be more appealing to admissions officers! Listen to your gut. You already have a full plate of schoolwork in the form of studying for classes and prepping for standardized tests; if you're going to add another item, let it be one that's like a dessert to you.

Don't Blend in by Trying to Stand Out

Treating yourself to an activity you love works in more ways than one. Not only will you get to spend more time doing something you actually enjoy, but following your own unique interests will usually result in an application that stands out more from the crowd. Think of it this way: If you were to choose only activities because they "look better," don't you think other students might do the same? Definitely!

An application that's filled with cookie-cutter extracurriculars risks looking identical to any number of other applications a school receives. Do yourself a favor and trust in your own interests to set you apart — you'll be much better off.

Avoid Burning Yourself Out

It's great to have a wide array of interests, but it can also be overwhelming when it comes to choosing organizations or clubs to join. With more opportunities that appeal to you, you might be tempted to take on as many as your schedule will allow. I urge you to be realistic in this regard. Take time to assess how many weekly hours each club or team you're considering will require. Then take a look at your high school calendar to determine what you truly have time to accomplish.

Depending on the club, you may not be able to take on as many as you'd like, which might make you worried you're not doing enough to impress your target schools. If that's the case, do not worry! Admission officers know that certain clubs, teams or even part-time jobs (yes, those count here too!) occupy more time than others. They'll factor the level of commitment that an activity requires into their considerations.

Overall, extracurriculars offer you the chance to explore your own interests further while also expressing those interests to colleges. If you make your decisions with those two things in mind, you'll be well on your way to a stellar high school experience. For more about college admissions, head over to our YouTube channel for videos covering all of the topics you're curious about.

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