By Tim Parros
I wrote an article four years ago about the importance of extracurriculars in the college admission process (read it here)
Interestingly enough, it still rings true and is even more critical going into the 2023/2024 admission cycle. As a result, we see our students reaching for many colleges that take a deep look into the extracurriculars; after all, colleges want students to better their communities, and students with experience in this are very attractive to them.
The admissions landscape continues to evolve, and schools seek students with more than perfect test scores and top grades. There are so many students with perfect scores and outstanding academics, which is still essential, but most schools take a holistic approach to the admissions process. They want students with diverse interests and backgrounds who will be a good fit for the school outside of academics. Your extracurriculars help them determine if you will be equipped to make your mark at their college in a positive and influential way.
So why is this important again?
Because it tells admissions more about you as a person. By looking at your activities in your free time, they learn about your interests and the key qualities you possess.
Essentially, your extracurriculars are one of the application components (along with your college essays and letters of recommendation) that they feel determines the characteristics that you will add to their student body. Different schools may value different traits, but they all value leadership, social responsibility, commitment, drive, and determination. Many other traits will be apparent to them as they review your application. It is also true that extracurriculars make for some great essays when it comes time to apply to college.
Generally speaking, the quality and the duration of your commitment to your extracurricular activity seem more important than how many you have on your list. The commitment you show in your extracurriculars for college over a more extended period is more impactful than being a member of many clubs for a short period. Even more important in this category is showing them what you learned, how you’ve grown, and how you will interact with their student body.
When we have students considering some of the top colleges in the US, we start early in helping them identify extracurriculars that they are passionate about. This is critical. I will end with the same advice from 4 years ago.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your activities:
Does it benefit your community?
Could it lead to any awards?
Is it possible to write about it and have it published?
As we discuss extracurricular activities with our students, we try to get them to think outside the box and go beyond with their peers are doing. We’re not encouraging students to give up activities they enjoy, but we hope that asking these questions will spark something and stretch the student in what activities they spend their time on.
We want to discuss this and explore how we can help you in your college planning journey.