MAY 01, 2017 • 11 min read
How do you start? Where do you look? Do I found a club? Run a campaign? Organize a competition?
The key is authenticity – a good extracurricular activity idea includes your genuine interests and passions.
You should think about what really excites you and build that into an activity that makes a positive difference to the community.
This blog will set up some guidelines for choosing your extracurricular activities. Then, we'll dive into some practical examples to help kick start your college application.
Your extracurriculars need the right blend. These guidelines aren't a definitive list, but a rule of thumb. They'll help you structure your passion, your ambition and your goodwill in a way that resonates with admissions officers.
You need to show you can take initiative and improve the community across a variety of fields. So, your extracurriculars can include:
Crimson’s holistic approach provides support across all areas of the US and UK university application process. We assist you to find your best-fit university, create a personalised roadmap, ace your standardised tests, craft the perfect essay, build candidacy through extracurriculars, and more.
This extracurricular is related to what you hope to study in college and shows the admissions team that you are extremely excited about a particular area of study.
Schools want to admit students who are hard-working and passionate about their field. You need to show that your field isn’t just for the money or prestige; you’re going for it because without that degree, you couldn’t be you.
This extracurricular shows that you give up your time to help the community or people in need. It shows admissions officers you proactively care and want to make changes in the world.
Showing that you can take charge when something concerns you and you’re willing to put in the time demonstrates initiative, dedication, and perseverance – all attractive attributes.
Ensure you choose something that is important to you and that you commit enough time to make an impact – at least 12 months or more. The longer you participate, the more you contribute and your progress will strengthen your application.
Working in community service reinforces what you’ve already learned and develops valuable college-level skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, while demonstrating your civic responsibility.
A simple search on Google regarding your interests is the easiest way to get started. A quick phone call also produces similar results.
This is the big one! The one that screams your personality and shows the admissions officers what makes you tick.
Often, this will be tied to your career or community activity, which means you’ll be covered. For example, you want to study medicine so you volunteer at a hospital and at a research lab.
Or, it can completely divert from the narrative in your other activities to give a better picture of you as a whole. For example, you create YouTube videos in your spare time (which you also use as a platform to promote your community activity).
The ‘You’ activity has an element of surprise, because it doesn’t necessarily align with your other pursuits; rather, it reflects your excitement for life – it should show that you live your life in a proper and ethical way. It will show that there’s more to you than just study and you’re motivated by more than just your future career or field.
The activity cannot be something self-involved, like being a diamond-ranked Starcraft player or building 10,000 followers on Instagram.
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So, in summary - this extracurricular should:
Let’s consider Student A
Here is an example of one student’s extracurricular activities that they put on an application.
This candidate has shown:
P – Passion for using their talent to improve the community’s mental health
I – Initiative in tutoring others in English
E – Empathy for those who suffer from mental illness.
They are proactively improving the community and showing that their day-to-day conduct is to better the world. Notice the clear, consistent, personal narrative and how the extracurriculars all work together. Also, notice the ‘less-is-more’ approach with extracurricular activity.
This candidate is likely to be considered by many top colleges.
Are you worried about whether your extracurriculars are telling your personal story?
Here are the key qualities to an extracurricular that make them effective. They can be any hobby or activity as long as they show these qualities.
Key QualityDemonstratesPracticing a hobby or activity for several yearsCommitment, passionTaking initiative, getting things doneLeadership, gets resultsIncreasing your responsibility, expanding your roleWork ethic, passion, initiative, willingness to be challenged, gets out of comfort zoneMentoring other peoplePositivity, you have peer respect, ability to foster relationships, making an impact, contributing to the futureMaking something from scratchEntrepreneurial spirit, self-starter, leadership, drive, passion, initiativ
The importance of extracurricular activity is clear: admissions officers use them to assess your passion, your responsibility and your ethics.
A good guideline to follow is choosing extracurricular activity around your career, your community and your passion - or combine them all into one super extracurricular. Then we listed a plenty of examples to inspire you.
Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company specialising in helping students gain entry to some of the world’s most competitive universities. Find out more about our Admissions Support program.