Assessing Your Extracurricular Involvement

When it comes to admissions decisions, it’s easy to be overly concerned with your GPA and standardized test scores. After all, those two facets are likely the most important portion of your application. However, colleges don’t necessarily gravitate to students who are solely focused on academics. They want undergrads who are just as eager to embrace life outside the classroom. Therefore, you can expect that most schools will closely evaluate your extracurricular activities as well.

Of course, you might now be wondering how to gauge your extracurricular pursuits. For (obvious) starters, consider how you spend your time after school. Are you the first one on the school bus as soon as the bell rings? Do you head to a local pizza place to hang with friends? Or are you rushing to get to a sports practice or attend a meeting? If you find yourself continually kicking back at home, it’s time to think about adding an activity or three to your schedule.

Of course, simply signing up or swinging by the occasional club meeting isn’t enough. Colleges aren’t interested in individuals who only show up periodically. They want students who happily participate. Be sure to attend meetings regularly and be actively involved. Beyond simply impressing schools, you’ll likely find you enjoy yourself more and gain more from the experience.

If you’re already participating, kudos! However, you can still likely step up your extracurricular game. If you’ve been a member of a club for a few years, think about going a little further and taking on a leadership role. Colleges love students who demonstrate dedication. Becoming the president of the environmental club, for example, shows that you’re not afraid to take on challenges or to work hard at something you deem important.

Aside from leadership, a diverse group of activities is also beneficial. Certainly, playing soccer is great. However, adding theater and/or the computer science club is even better. Participating in a handful of clubs affords you the opportunity to be well-rounded. And it helps you hone those precious time management skills!

Conversely, if you realize there’s a lack of extracurriculars in your schedule, don’t panic! It’s never too late to join. And if you’re unsure of where to begin, think about what you might want to study in college. Are there any clubs related to that discipline? If so, consider checking them out. It will show schools that you’re serious about the subject and might even give you a leg up in your studies. If you’re hoping to do something outside of academics, think about your interests. Are you really into film? See if there’s a corresponding club. If you’ve always been curious about journalism, now’s the time to explore. Attend the next newspaper meeting and see if they could use another writer.

Finally, when choosing extracurriculars, it’s important to remember that one club isn’t necessarily better than another. There’s really no “right” or “wrong” activity. Indeed, joining the juggling club can hold as much weight as student government. After all, colleges don’t want a student body full of class presidents or football players or even jugglers (though that might be fun!). Your unique interest and pursuits are what will add color to your future campus. Truly, the only incorrect choice is doing nothing at all!


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