If you plan to apply to some competitive colleges, you probably already know good grades and outstanding test scores are important. But these days, colleges want well-rounded applicants, not just students who test well. That’s why college admissions teams also look for interesting experiences on students’ applications—from typical extracurricular activities to study abroad programs.
In fact, one survey found that 41 percent of colleges said having extracurricular activities on the resume is important when determining who gets accepted. So, what activities should you try during high school?
Technically, the answer is anything that truly interests you, as it’s more important to become good at two or three activities than just okay at several. But if you have lots of extracurricular activities in mind and you’re trying to narrow down your list to the ones colleges want most, the following options tend to be the favorites among admissions teams.
Your college application needs to exemplify why you’d be an asset to any school and showing that you love to help people is a great start. So, choose a charitable cause that’s close to your heart and put in some work every school year. While any volunteer work is great, it’s even better if you can help a charity that relates to one of your skills or passions. For example, if you love to cook, working at a soup kitchen once a month would be perfect, while offering music lessons for free to local kids would be great if you’re a talented musician.
Another one of the best extracurricular activities examples is involvement with student government at school. This shows you’re not only interested in how your school functions, but you’re also willing to help—showing that you’re a responsible, engaged student. Plus, you typically have to get elected to office, which demonstrates that you’re well liked and know how to communicate your strengths to your peers.
If you want extracurricular activities on your resume that show off your critical thinking skills, start with the debate team. Joining this kind of club not only looks good to schools, but can also improve your confidence, communication, and research skills—all of which you’ll need in college!
You’re going to need to brush up on your writing skills if you want to succeed in college, so why not start now by writing for the school paper? This will signal to colleges that you know what you’re doing when it comes to communicating via the written word. Plus, getting published in high school gives you an advantage not many of your peers have, as you’ll get an early start to building your portfolio to show job recruiters after college.
If you want the extracurricular activities on your resume to demonstrate that you love learning, join an academic team. Most high schools have a few to choose from, including Science Olympiad, Envirothon, Mathletes, Robotics,etc. Choose an academic team based on the topic you’re most interested in so you can show colleges that your interest in scholarly subjects doesn’t stop the minute you leave the classroom. And if you can pick a team that relates to your intended major, even better!
From choir and marching band to studio art and theater, the arts are a great use of your time. Not only are they fulfilling and fun, but they also help with brain development, making these types of extracurricular activities look appealing to colleges!
Playing sports is a great way to get some much-needed exercise and expend your energy after a long day of sitting at a desk. But keep in mind that most colleges are only interested in athletes who would be an asset to their own sports teams. So, if you’re into athletics, it’s better to get good at one or two sports than to be a beginner at several.
No list of extracurricular activities examples would be complete without mentioning clubs that focus on other cultures. This could include clubs centered on different languages, religions, or geographic areas. The point is that you’re open to learning about cultures other than yours, and considering how important acceptance is among colleges, that’s big! So, look for a Spanish club, French club, Diversity club, or any other opportunity to learn about people around the world. This is especially important if you’re considering study abroad programs in college, as cultural clubs may give you some ideas on where to visit!
In fact, if you’re thinking about study abroad programs now, feel free to browse the options we offer at Oxbridge Academic Programs. Contact us today if you have any questions about studying abroad in college!