The Key to Choosing The Right Extracurricular Activity For You

22/02/202317 minute read
The Key to Choosing The Right Extracurricular Activity For You

Extracurricular activities play an essential role in the college application process; they’re a great way to differentiate yourself from other college applicants, and they offer you an opportunity to stand out and showcase your interests, skills, and talents beyond the classroom. Choosing the right activity for you is important, but with so many options out there, it may seem tough to decide which ones would help your college application shine.

With just a few tips to keep in mind, deciding on the perfect activity for you could be a breeze! By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to choose extracurriculars that are sure to impress college admissions officers.

1. Choose activities that showcase your skills and passions

When it comes to choosing extracurricular activities, it's important to think of what you're truly passionate about. If you're genuinely interested in the activity, you're more likely to stick with it and excel in it. Plus, colleges and universities are often looking for students who are enthusiastic and committed to their extracurricular pursuits.

Think about what you're good at, what you enjoy doing, and what you'd like to learn more about. For example, if you're passionate about music, you might want to consider joining a school band or choir, or even starting your own music group. If you have a talent for writing, you could look into joining the school newspaper or literary magazine. If you're interested in science, you might want to participate in a science fair or join a science club.

Here are some more examples of popular extracurricular activities that suit different interests:

Field of InterestRecommended Extracurricular Activity
PhotographyPhotography Club, Yearbook Club
Politics Model UN, Debate Team
Medicine/Healthcare Volunteering at a Hospital, Science Club
Technology Coding Club, Hackathons
MusicMusic Band, Music Production Club
Art/Design Art Club, Graphic Design Club
Culinary Arts Culinary Club, Baking Club

It's also worth considering activities that align with your long-term goals. For example, if you're interested in a career in the medical field, volunteering at a local hospital or clinic could be a great way to gain experience and demonstrate that you’ve acquired foundational skills in the field. Similarly, if you're interested in pursuing a career in politics or social justice, you might want to look into joining a debate team or participating in a youth advocacy group.

Remember, by choosing activities that align with your skills and passions, you’re more likely to excel in them, which makes for a great college application!

2. Keep your top-choice colleges in mind

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When it comes to choosing extracurricular activities for your university applications, it's important to keep your goal university in mind. The types of extracurricular activities that are valued by college admissions officers vary between US and UK universities.

In the United States, universities tend to place a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities that demonstrate leadership, community involvement, and a commitment to making a positive impact in the world. This is because American universities are often looking for well-rounded students who make valuable contributions to campus life and the wider community.

In the UK, on the other hand, universities tend to place a greater emphasis on “Supercurriculars” - activities related to your academic achievements and grades, such as reading, podcasts, debating, and research.

How US and UK universities evaluate your application piechartWhen choosing extracurricular activities, it's important to keep in mind the specific priorities and values of the university you're applying to. If you're applying to a US university, it’s best to focus on activities that demonstrate leadership, such as participating in student government or starting a community service project. If you're applying to a UK university, the best choice would be activities related to your academic interests, such as participating in a science or debate club.

Check out our ebook to learn more about developing your supercurriculars for UK admissions.

3. Focus on quality over quantity

It's important to remember that admissions officers aren't just looking for a long list of extracurricular activities on your resume. They're interested in seeing what you've learned, how you've grown, and what kind of impact you've had through your involvement in these activities.

By focusing on a few quality activities, you'll be able to dedicate more time and energy to each of your chosen activities, which can ultimately lead to more significant achievements and personal growth. If you're constantly juggling multiple activities, you might not have the time or energy to truly commit to any of them. This can result in a lack of meaningful experiences and a diluted impact, which won't be as impressive to college admissions officers as a few carefully selected activities that you've excelled in.

Check out our ebook on How to Build an Extracurricular Profile for US Universities.

It's also worth noting that spreading yourself too thin can lead to burnout and stress, so when considering which extracurricular activities to pursue, it's important to choose ones that you’re truly passionate about and committed to. By focusing on a few activities that align with your interests and goals, you'll not only have a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience, but you'll also be able to showcase your skills and strengths in a more profound way to college admissions officers.

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4. Seek leadership roles

Leadership is a crucial skill that is highly valued in college and beyond, and extracurricular activities that demonstrate leadership skills are particularly attractive to college admissions committees. By taking on a leadership role in an extracurricular activity, you can show admissions officers that you have the ability to motivate and guide a team, communicate effectively, and make important decisions. Whether you become a team captain, club officer, or event coordinator, you’ll have the opportunity to show your ability to lead and inspire.

To be successful in a leadership role, it's important to take initiative and build relationships with the other members. Don't be afraid to approach your mentors and express your interest in taking on a leadership position. Show that you’re enthusiastic, responsible, and committed to making a positive impact in the community. Take the time to get to know the members and show an interest in the community’s goals and aspirations, this will help you establish trust and respect, which are essential for effective leadership.

While participating in an extracurricular activity is instrumental for your college application, demonstrating leadership in those activities is an even better way to stand out from other applicants and show that you have what it takes to succeed in college and beyond.

5. Consider unique and impactful activities

When it comes to building a strong college application, having a variety of extracurricular activities can help demonstrate your unique character, interests, and skills. While being part of a popular sports team or school club can be impressive, top college admissions officers often look for students who go beyond the norm and demonstrate unique and impactful experiences.

Volunteering for a nonprofit organization, for example, is an excellent way to demonstrate a commitment to a cause and showcase your passion for helping others. This type of activity not only demonstrates your dedication to making a positive difference in your community, but it can also provide valuable experience in teamwork, communication, and leadership.

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Starting your own community service project can be another way to demonstrate your initiative, creativity, and leadership skills. It shows that you’re capable of identifying a need in your community and taking action to address it. This type of extracurricular activity also shows college admissions officers that you’ve developed important skills such as project management, fundraising, and marketing.

Participating in research or internships can also be an impressive extracurricular activity, especially if it’s related to your academic interests or career goals. It shows that you are actively seeking out opportunities to learn and gain hands-on experience in your field of interest. This type of activity can also help you build important professional connections, which is a great way to get references, and may even lead to future career opportunities.

When considering extracurricular activities, it's important to find ones that are impactful to you personally and to the community at large. Participating in unique and impactful extracurricular activities can help set you apart from other college applicants and demonstrate your commitment to making a difference.

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6. Get involved in the community

Outside of school-centered extracurricular activities, getting involved in your community can significantly enhance your college admissions profile. College admissions officers look for well-rounded applicants who demonstrate initiative and a sense of responsibility in their community. Involvement in community clubs, organizations, and events helps you showcase that you possess these qualities.

Start by researching community organizations and groups that offer extracurricular activities. This can include cultural groups or volunteering opportunities. You can start by searching online or reaching out to your local community center or library for recommendations.

Charity work is an excellent way to get involved in your community and develop new skills. Look for volunteer opportunities in your area, such as local food banks, animal shelters, or community centers. Volunteering can also provide you with valuable work experience and help you build your resume.

Attending community events is an excellent way to get a sense of the various extracurricular activities available in your area. Look for events such as fairs, festivals, or information sessions hosted by local organizations or groups. Attend these events, talk to the organizers, and ask questions. This will help you get a sense of the community, the organization, and the type of activities they offer.

Getting involved in your community through volunteer work or community service projects can show your commitment to making a positive impact. This demonstrates impressive skills to college admissions officers such as your passion for serving others, your ability to work collaboratively with a team, and your ability to manage your time efficiently.

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Final Thoughts

Choosing the right extracurricular activities for your college application is an important decision that requires careful consideration. By focusing on your skills and passions, seeking leadership roles, and choosing unique and impactful activities, you can set yourself apart from other applicants and demonstrate your commitment to personal growth and community involvement. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can choose activities that showcase your skills, passions, and dedication, and make a lasting impression on college admissions committees.

Crimson Education offers ECL mentoring services that will help you build an extracurricular and leadership profile that will help you stand out to university admissions officers.