Your college application offers a chance to make a great first impression on higher education institutions. However, you can expect to face plenty of competition, so it’s important to make the most of your application. One of the sections you’ll need to complete on your application is extracurricular activities. These activities provide colleges with more insight into who you are as a person and what your interests and goals are.
What are the best extracurricular activities for a college application? Knowing the kinds of activities you should include on your college application is important. While you might have done several activities, not all of them need to be included. In fact, putting too many could have a negative impact on your application. A longer list makes it harder for the best activities to stand out. Keep the following in mind, so you’ll know which extracurricular activities to put on your college application.
Importance of Extracurricular Activities
Why are extracurricular activities important for getting into college? These activities might seem like hobbies when you do them, but they offer a lot more when it comes to being accepted to the college of your choice. Extracurricular activities show colleges a wide range of your aspects and characteristics that form a positive impression, such as being willing to learn new skills or work with others as a team.
These activities might also show colleges that you’re involved in your field or area of interest beyond taking classes, such as being part of a local or after-school science club or taking part in math competitions outside of school. Your extracurricular activities on your college application should also provide colleges with information on your interests outside of your field, which helps show that you’re a well-rounded student.
Best Extracurriculars for College
What looks good on college applications? You don’t need to list every single activity you’ve participated in, but you might have trouble deciding which ones to include. Any or all of the following are among the best extracurricular activities for college applications.
Leadership activities are some of the most important ones to put on your college application. Many colleges look for leadership skills or leadership potential in college applicants. Having activities on your application that show you’ve been in a leadership position can help you stand out among the competition. Whether you’ve been the president of a high school club or other organization or the captain of your sports team, these activities provide colleges with evidence that you have what it takes to be in a leadership position.
What kinds of activities would colleges consider leadership experience? In addition to team sports and club presidents, other examples include being on the student council at your high school, being in charge of a school campaign, having a senior position at your job if you work, or heading a community project or volunteer project. Colleges want to see that you have the initiative and confidence to lead groups or projects, which makes these kinds of activities ideal ones to include on your application.
Internships are a great way to show colleges that you have already gained some experience in your chosen field. For example, business students might do an internship with a local company in their marketing department or another department, which should be included on a college application. These activities illustrate your dedication to your field and provide evidence that you have had some hands-on experience on a professional level. This can ensure that your application goes to the top of the pile when the admissions office looks for college applicants.
If you haven’t had any internship experience, don’t worry about leaving this off of your college application. Not all high schools provide students with these kinds of opportunities. You’re more likely to have internship experience if you’re going back to college or if you’re working and applying for college in order to earn a degree for career advancement. Internships are just one of many important extracurricular activities that you can put on your application.
Participating in sports shows colleges that you have a strong sense of commitment and that you’re willing to work hard to achieve your goals. Playing team sports, such as football or basketball, also lets colleges know that you’ve been able to function as part of a team. Athletic participation generally takes up quite a bit of time and requires significant effort to develop skills. When you include your sports experience on your college application, admissions offices take note of this for these reasons.
Athletic participation also shows colleges that you know how to follow directions while working with your peers. This illustrates that you have discipline and team-building skills, which are important parts of succeeding in a college environment. If you have experience as a team captain, make sure you note this on your application, since this also highlights your leadership abilities. You should also mention any championships or other awards you and your team won when you fill out your college application.
Work experience might seem more like something you would put on a job resume rather than a college application. However, including this kind of experience when applying for college is a smart move. Having work experience, such as a part-time position, shows that you are responsible enough to hold down a job. Work experience also means you’ve had to develop time management skills and learn to work with supervisors and fellow employees.
When you have experience at a job, you might also have gained valuable experience interacting with others as part of customer service. You’ll have firsthand experience in a professional setting as well, which can give you an edge over other college applicants who have never had this kind of experience. Make sure you note how long you’ve had your job and which positions you’ve had if you’re including work experience on your application. If you don’t have a part-time job or if you haven’t had any work experience so far, keep in mind that colleges aren’t expecting to see much of it on applications, especially if you’re a high school student.
Academic Teams and Clubs
Your college application is about a lot more than your grades. The best extracurriculars for college grades include clubs or teams you have been part of in high school. These academic groups have provided you with a way to deepen your understanding of a certain subject or pursue an interest, such as chess clubs or science Olympiads. When you include these academic clubs and teams on your application, it shows that you have a strong interest in that particular subject or that you’re eager to improve certain skills.
If you have been in several academic teams and clubs, should you include all of them on your application? While it might be tempting to do so, it’s better to only choose the most relevant ones to put on your application. For example, mention academic teams and clubs that tie into the degree or career you’ll be pursuing. You should also include information on your role within these groups, especially if you were a captain or leader.
While it’s important to include extracurricular activities that are related to your chosen field or area of academic interest, colleges also want to see that you’re well-rounded and have a wide range of interests. Putting creative activities on your application is an effective way to show this. For example, if you’ve been part of a theater group or other performing arts group, you should mention this on your college application. These kinds of interests can show that you have a lot of curiosity and are open to new experiences that don’t necessarily have anything to do with your main area of interest in school.
Creative pursuits can also show colleges that you have the dedication needed to develop your skills and talents. Keep in mind that it takes effort and discipline to excel in these kinds of activities. Depending on the kind of activity you’ve done, this might illustrate how well you’ve been able to work as a team, such as if you were part of a dance group that had to put on a recital.
Technological skills are another important extracurricular activity to include on your college application. While colleges generally expect students to have certain basic skills, such as typing skills, online research skills, experience with commonly used software programs, and knowledge of online etiquette, other skills can help you stand out. For example, you should mention any experience you have with technological skills that aren’t common knowledge, such as computer programming.
Having technological skills means that you’ve put in the time and effort to learn something challenging. These skills can also be useful in college, especially if you’re planning to pursue a degree in computer science. Including technological skills on your application helps show colleges that you’re willing to learn new skills, which is a quality that admissions offices tend to look for when reviewing applications.
Being politically active can help you gain attention from college admissions departments when you include this information on your application. Student activism has been on the rise among high school students and in local communities. If you’ve been active in student government or participated in political activism in your community, you should include this on your college application. These kinds of extracurricular activities show colleges that you keep up with current events while also being willing to stand up for your beliefs and rights.
When you include political activism on your application, make sure you discuss why it’s important to you and what kinds of activities you participate in. For example, you might want to mention a rally you’ve organized at your school or any other events you’ve been active in within your community. You can also discuss the kinds of political issues you’re involved in the most and what motivates you to take action on these issues.
Including travel experiences on your college application can be a good option depending on the kinds of travel you’ve done. While a family vacation might not give you the right kind of experience to discuss on your application, going abroad to study or volunteer can be a great way to include travel when applying for college. If you’ve traveled to other countries or parts of the world, you can discuss your experiences in terms of learning about another culture or gaining new skills, such as learning a new language.
Travel essays for college applications should help colleges see you in a positive light. You should avoid coming across as bragging about all the travel experiences you’ve had, for example. Focusing on what you learned from traveling or how it has impacted your life are good ways to talk about these experiences on your college application.
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